Meg Sweeney Lecture: The Underground Book Railroad: Reading and Censorship in Women's Prisons
Foregrounding prisoners’ highly restricted opportunities for reading and education, this lecture will explore the varied and creative ways in which some incarcerated women engage with the limited reading materials available to them. Extending the tradition of prisoners’ self-education, women use popular, female-gendered genres to situate their experiences within broader social and historical contexts, experiment with new ways of being, and maintain a sense of dignity, hope, and human community.
Megan Sweeney is an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of English and the Department of Afroamerican and African studies. She is also a faculty affiliate in Women’s Studies and American Culture. Prof. Sweeney is currently serving as director of undergraduate studies in DAAS and as director of the English Department Writing Program. In addition to several essays about African American literature, prisons, and reading, she has published an award-winning monograph, Reading is My Window: Books and the Art of Reading in Women's Prisons (2010), and an edited collection, The Story Within Us: Women Prisoners Reflect on Reading (2012).