Each year PNAP offers 13-15 non-credit college-level courses in subjects ranging from printmaking and criminology to poetry and women’s studies. Faculty are independent artists and Chicago university professors. A committee identifies new faculty and courses based on student interest and a desire to offer classes in a wide range of subjects taught by faculty that are representative of our student population. Our commitment to non-credit classes has been supported and articulated by our students in prison, as access to general education and art has been a critical gateway to higher education. Along with classes, PNAP hosts guest lectures where speakers discuss their work as writers, artists, and activists together with a group of incarcerated men in the Stateville auditorium. 

Current Courses

Poetry for Our Times

Faculty: Meredith Nnoka

This course will examine the history and method of poetry that responds to historical moments and/or current events. Part-poetry survey course, part-writing workshop, this class will introduce students to a broad range of poems that bear witness to the political concerns, cultural shifts, and crisis points of our times at several pivotal moments, beginning in the 1910s up until our present era. Alongside reading and analyzing poetry, students will write one poem a week in response to our current moment, and participate in weekly writing workshops, leading to a class anthology and an in-class poetry reading.

Comics for Now

Faculty: Damon Locks

“The act of drawing is seeing, is trying to see something. And it puts you in a completely different mental state. It puts you in a state of being in that moment, for that specific moment, and understanding reality in a way adults are very, very good at not doing…Trying to live in that moment is a very difficult accomplishment. I think drawing encourages that more than anything. “ – comic book artist, Chris Ware

This class explores the graphic novel/comic. The goal is to create a collection/ anthology of comic pages. We will create stories and learn how to develop them into comics. We will look at many examples of different styles of comics and break down the important aspects that make comics work. We will work in steps starting with small assignments working up to each of you creating your own multi-page comic. We will not be focusing on only funny comic strips or traditional superhero comics but all manner of comics.

I believe that we are not limited by our drawing abilities. Working with intention pushes the message through better than any detailed drawing. Meaning, that intention or the feeling behind the work is what I am most concerned with. My goal is to make work that is important to you. As always, we are trying to build more talents for expression, more tools for expression, more options for expression!

Narrating Social Change

Faculty: Cathy Cohen and Alice Kim

This course is a mixed enrollment class which brings UChicago students and students incarcerated at Stateville together for a quarter of learning, dialogue and knowledge-building across the prison wall. We will examine how individuals, groups, and oppressed communities produce, reproduce and reimagine what equality, justice, agency and freedom mean as they engage in activism for social change. Throughout the quarter, we will explore contemporary and historical examples of people engaging in resistance to oppression. In some cases, people act alone or in small groups to provide themselves with limited agency. In other examples, people work collectively to build organizations and social movements that transform countries. To explore these topics, we will use materials from multiple mediums including film, poetry, memoir, and cultural works.

Sciences Through the Ages

Faculty: Shireen Hamza

Through weekly readings and interactive activities, students will explore how different sciences have been organized over time, from the life and earth sciences to the “human sciences” to studies of the night sky. How have people around the world understood and classified knowledge of the natural world, from ancient to modern times? How did Science become such a prestigious way of knowing? The words science and scientist themselves have a history entangled with European colonialism and non-Western modernities. Learning the history of science is an important step in developing more ethical values for modern science.

Black Lives in Historic Context

Faculty: Johari Jabir

This course explores the lived context of Black people in nineteenth century America and the Diaspora, specifically themes of Slavery, Abolition Democracy, and Citizenship. Recent misappropriations of Critical Race Theory are used to prevent the teaching of topics like slavery in basic American history. Truth be told, even though Black people emancipated themselves in what WEB Du Bois called the General Strike of the Civil War, slavery has not so much ended but evolved. Following the Civil War Black people remained far from the table of democracy in order that the nation could further its brand of American capitalism. Yet, these same people built their own democratic institutions, hence Du Bois’ Abolition Democracy. America’s history of excluding Black people from the right of full citizenship is also a history of alternate forms of social membership. In the tradition of Black Studies and Black Struggle, we take up the question of Black life in the 19th century as a way to engage the consequences of racial capitalism, the importance of intersectional analyses, and building ethical futures. 

English: Advanced Composition

Faculty: Tim Barnett

This course looks at the interdependence of rhetoric, grammar, logic, semantics, psychology, and criticism in the communication of ideas and provides practice in various types of writing with a focus on students’ interests. Our section of English 376 will consider multiple forms and theories of writing and ask students to consider issues of identity and power as they relate to literacy.

UWW Study Hall

Faculty: Jason LaFountain, Tim Barnett, Gabrielle Christiansen, and Alan Giuliani

UWW Study Hall provides a space for current degree students to get together once a week outside of class, for support from the PNAP Higher Education Coordinator. There will be time for filling out degree paperwork, discussion of courses, workshopping writing, tutoring (e.g. math), planning for future semesters, etc. The Study Hall is also a space for UWW graduates to mentor the current students.

Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank

Faculty: Melissa Lorraine, Alice Kim, and Timmy Châu

The Think Tank is composed of incarcerated scholars and cultural workers and is co-facilitated by Alice Kim and Timmy Châu. Through in-depth research, policy analysis, and advocacy, alongside creative cultural projects, we work to transform the material and ideological conditions created by carceral logics. We seek to make key interventions and offer critical insights to the broader movement to end mass-incarceration from within one of the most brutal geographies of the prison-industrial-complex. Abolition is our horizon. 

Past Courses

2021-22 Academic Year

Art Workshop  
Faculty: William Estrada

Abondans: Worldbuilding and Afrofuturism
Faculty: Indigo Wright and Timmy Châu

Reading and Writing Short Poems
Faculty: Meredith Nnoka

Alternative Justice Systems: A Comparative Exploration for Liberation
Faculty: Marina Bell and Clinton Nichols

Practicing Public Health: Healing Communities, Healing Selves
Faculty: Evan Lyon and Sam Chen

The Evolution of Hip-Hop
Faculty: LaTasha DeHaan

Portrait as Mosaic: A Reading and Writing Intensive Seminar
Faculty: Audrey Petty, Jill Petty, and Ben Austen

Printmaking: Portraits of Change
Faculty: William Estrada and Hanna Gibson

Youth and Social Movements
Faculty: David Stovall and Emily Pierce

Shaped by Spaces: Human Relationships with Built and Natural Environments
Faculty: Tess Landon

Modern Mathematics
Faculty: Alan Giuliani

Correspondence on Current Biology Topics
Faculty: Beth Reinke and Aaron Schirmer

Tracing the History of Japanese-American Incarceration During World War II
Faculty: Fred Sasaki and Cean Gamalinda

Contemporary Feminists Engagements
Faculty: Beth Richie, Erica Meiners, and Anna Martine-Whitehead

Two Centuries of Black Poetry: A Generative and Analytical Poetry Course
Faculty: Tara Betts

Drawing: Observation and Invention
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

UWW Study Hall
Faculty: Jason LaFountain

Math Tutorial
Faculty: Nick Moreno

Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank
Faculty: Alice Kim, Durrell Washington, Timmy Châu and Noelle Petrowski

2020-21 Academic Year

Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank
Faculty: Alice Kim, Durrell Washington, and Noelle Petrowski

Math Tutorial
Faculty: Desmond Taylor

Making Space: Emancipatory Design
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead, Andres Hernandez, and Amanda Williams

Art: Justice Murals
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead, Sarah Ross, Damon Locks, and Aaron Hughes

Towards a People’s Bill of Rights: Rethinking Criminal Justice
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

Introduction to Latinx Studies
Faculty: Christina Gómez

A Beloved Community: Healing, Justice, and the Urgency of Mindfulness
Faculty: Johari Jabir

James Baldwin and Black Political Thought
Faculty: Martha Biondi

Race, Class, and Gender Dimensions of Criminalization and Justice
Faculty: Julian Thompson

Research for Justice
Faculty: Lisa Yun Lee and Adam Bush

Poetry: The Lyric Essay
Faculty: Audrey Petty

Writing Our Lives: The Art of Memoir and Personal Essay
Faculty: William Ayers

Violence in Society
Faculty: Beth Richie

Introduction to Visual Criminology
Faculty: Luke Fidler and Jason LaFountain

Economy, Society, and Public Policy
Faculty: Damon Jones

2019-20 Academic Year

African Americans and the Civil War
Faculty: Johari Jabir

Envisioning Criminal Justice Reforms
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

Art: Anthems
Faculty: Sarah Ross, Anna Martine Whitehead, Aaron Hughes, and Damon Locks

Writing Poetry
Faculty: Tara Betts 

Writing the Brief Biography and Short Learning Statements
Faculty: Tara Betts

Critical Ethnic Studies and Contemporary Art Practice
Faculty: Patricia Nguyen and Casey Goonan

At Home in the World: Telling Our Stories of Public Housing
Faculty: Lisa Yun Lee and Ben Auste

Critical Writing and Research
Faculty: Tim Barnett, Martha Biondi, Erica Meiners, and Beth Richie

Draw What You See/Draw What You Dream
Faculty: Aaron Hughes

Our Dances, Our Freedom
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead

2018-19 Academic Year 

Introduction to Writing
Faculty: Simone Waller

Digging Deeper: Poetry Informed by Contingent Citizenship and Being Human
Faculty: Tara Betts

Emancipation and Abolition in Historical Perspective
Faculty: Kai Parker

Afrofuturism: Science Fiction as Social Commentary and Alternative Visions of Tomorrow
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

UWW Capstone Experience Course
Faculty: Timothy Barnett and Erica Meiners

Race and Politics
Faculty: Cathy Cohen

Make Your Mark & Fly Your Flag
Faculty: Aaron Hughes

From Civil Rights to #Black Lives Matter: Politics, Society and Protest Since the 1960s
Faculty: Martha Biondi

Movement / Movement: Dance and Liberation
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead

Poetry About My Rights: Writing Poems Informed by Contingent Citizenship
Faculty: Tara Betts 

Art and Empire in the Ancient World
Faculty: Luke Fidler

The Social Value of Latinas/os/xs
Faculty: Michael De Anda Muñiz

Manifesta for the Future
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

2017-18 Academic Year

Introduction to Environmental Justice
Faculty: Antonio Reyes López

Writing Workshop: Creating Character
Faculty: Tess Landon

Printmaking: Developing a Collaborative Portfolio
Faculty: William Estrada

Art and Animation
Faculty: Damon Locks and Sarah Ross

Mapping the Self in Community
Faculty: Jill Petty, Audrey Petty, and Miriam Petty

American Public Schools
Faculty: Eve Ewing and David Stovall

Justice and Politics in Shakespeare’s Plays
Faculty: Wendy Wall

Black Women in History, Politics, and The Law
Faculty: Beth Richie, Barbara Ransby, and Cathy Cohen

Critical Education: Power, Knowledge, and Change
Faculty: Tim Barnett and Erica Meiners

Introduction to Criminology
Faculty: Clinton Nichols

A Survey of Black Writers
Faculty: Tara Betts

Writing: Education from the Public to the Personal
Faculty: Tess Landon

Political Theory: The Meaning and Limits of Rights
Faculty: Lucy Cane

Philosophy: Freedom and Its Limits
Faculty: David Egan

Philosophy: Philosophy of Punishment
Faculty: Jessica Bird

2016-17 Academic Year

American Art: A People’s History
Faculty: Luke Fidler and Jason LaFountain

Introduction to Latina/o Studies
Faculty: Michael De Anda Muñiz

Staging Time: Real Stories, Real Theater
Faculty: David Feiner and Benjamin Serrano

African American Studies 101
Faculty: Kai Parker

Passing Time: (In)significant Moments
Faculty: Andres Hernandez

Literature: The Journey
Faculty: Audrey Petty

History: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter
Faculty: Martha Biondi

Art: From Drawing the Personal to Printing the Public
Faculty: Aaron Hughes

Writing: Writing Through a Wall
Faculty: Alice Kim

Performance: Dance and Movement-Building
Faculty: Anna Martine Whitehead

2015-16 Academic Year

Literature: Detective Fiction
Faculty: Tim Barnett

Abstracting Nature
Faculty: William Estrada

Political Science: The Meaning and Limits of Rights
Faculty: Anna Terweil and Lucy Cane

The Artistic Imagination
Faculty: Jason LaFountain

Art: Drawing on Community
Faculty: Marvin Tate

Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle
Faculty: Kai Parker

Black Women and the Justice System
Faculty: Beth Richie

Words Free: An Exploration of Poetry & Poetics
Faculty: Lasana Kazembe

African American History, 1619-1900
Faculty: Kai Parker

Freedom Dreams
Faculty: Alice Kim

Core Writing Skills
Faculty: Nancy Traver

Art and Science Fiction: Documenting the Future
Faculty: Damon Locks

2014-15 Academic Year

Reading and Writing Our Lives
Faculty: Tim Barnett

Political Theory: Theory and Event
Faculty: Lucy Cane

The Art and Craft of Memoir: Object Lessons
Faculty: Audrey Petty

Black Women and the Criminal Justice System
Faculty: Beth Richie

Introduction to Latino and Latin American Studies
Faculty: Christina Gómez

Portraiture and Installation
Faculty: Sarah Ross

Writing Workshop
Faculty: Amy Partridge and Erica Meiners

Poetry Series: Writing and a Healing
Faculty: Marvin Tate

Animals: Myth and Reality
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

The Artist in Representation
Faculty: Damon Locks

Introduction to Political Theory in the American Context
Faculty: Lucy Cane and Anna Terwiel

African American History, 1865-Present
Faculty: Darryl Heller

2013-14 Academic Year

Personal Narratives in History
Faculty: Amy Partridge

Art & Advocacy, History & Practice
Faculty: Tess Landon

Art: (Re)creation / Time
Faculty: Damon Locks, Sarah Ross, and Fereshteh Toosi

The Fiction and Prose of Richard Wright
Faculty: Natasha Barnes

Social Change Histories
Faculty: Erica Meiners and Jill Petty

Poetry: Dear Reader
Faculty: Fred Sasaki, Lindsay Garbutt, Ydalmi Noriega, Ashley Sheehan, James Sitar, Mairead Case, and Nuria Sheehan

Humanities: Social Change Histories
Faculty: Ben Almassi and Nick Smaligo

Drawing from Observation
Faculty: Ryan Griffis

Expository Writing Basics
Faculty: Jill Petty

Poor People’s Movements in the 2000s, 1960s & 1930s
Faculty: Amy Partridge

2012-13 Academic Year 

Gendered Perspectives
Faculty: Erica Meiners

Unexpected Art, Unexpected Artists
Faculty: Tess Landon

Mural and Painting Workshop
Faculty: Gabriel Villa

The Letter
Faculty: Claire Pentecost

Creative Writing: Political Poetry
Faculty: Daniela Olszewska

Creative Writing: Coming of Age
Faculty: Jill Petty

Faculty: Anthony Madrid, Nadya Pittendrigh, Fred Sasaki, and Tess Landon

Visual Stories
Faculty: Sarah Ross