Women in Walled Communities: Silence, Voice, Vision examines the constraints and agency of individual actors in social spaces, with aparticular focus on the institutional settings of colleges and prisons and the “critical spaces” that can open up within them. Women in Walled Communities includes three courses. Two of these, “The Rhetorics of Silence,” in the English Department, and “Learning in Institutional Spaces,” in the Education Program, will take place on Bryn Mawr’s campus. The third course, “Acting in Prison: Vision as Resource for Change,” offered as a General Studies course, will include on-campus meetings as well as a field-based component in a women’s correctional facility.
Taught by Jody Cohen (Education), this course considered how two “walled communities,” the institutions of schools and prisons, operate as sites of learning. Beginning with an examination of the origins of educational and penitential institutions, students examined how these institutions both constrain and propel learning, and how human beings challenge and change their surroundings.
This course, taught by Anne Dalke (English), considered silence as a rhetorical art and political act, an imaginative space and expressive power that can serve many functions, including that of opening new possibilities among us. Discussion focused on students’ own experiences of silence, re-thinking them through the lenses of how it is explained in philosophy, enacted in classrooms, and performed by various genders, cultures and religions.
This course was taught by Barb Toews (Ph.D. candidate, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research), and used the theme of vision to explore the context and consequences of mass incarceration, daily experiences inside correctional institutions and social movements inspired by incarcerated individuals. Students explored and applied course materials in campus-based classes and in classes with incarcerated women inside a correctional facility.