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

Drawing Family Portraits, Community History, and Freedom Dreams

Faculty: Aaron Hughes
TA: Darrell Fair

This course focuses on developing students’ technical drawing skills while exploring the formal and conceptual construction of portraiture, historical painting, community murals, political posters, and public monuments. Class exercises on line quality, mark making, positive and negative space, light and dark value, perspective, composition, visual mapping, and anatomy will develop students’ technical skills while class readings and discussions will deepen students’ theoretical framework and creative visions. Through individual critiques and group discussions students will develop an understanding of how drawing can shift from the personal to political and back again, offer a space for personal reflection, and help visualize alternative futures. The class will conclude with the development of a series of portraits and drawings that highlight personal histories, address social issues, and express “freedom dreams.”

Writing Our Lives: The Art of Memoir and Personal Essay

Faculty: William Ayers and Rachel DeWoskin
TA: Darnell Lane

We will be concerned in this class with writing personal essays; we will explore fundamental issues in essay writing–creating a credible narrator; describing a scene in sufficient detail; becoming a story-teller; fighting the impulse to do therapy on the page; knowing when to “show, don’t tell.” We will focus on doing autobiographical research, which is, in the first place, an act of intelligence and creativity. We will draw on judgment, experience, instinct, and deeper study. We will read some solid examples of other people’s efforts at “writing their lives;” and we will quickly turn this into a writer’s workshop. The work will then become a critical examination of class members’ writings. We will share parts of our original writing with class-mates which will allow us to dig more deeply into the writing process itself. 

Latinx Art, Latinx History

Faculty: Christina Gómez, Jason LaFountain, Helen Sanchez-Cortes
TA: Juan Luna

This class examines the rich and varied contributions of Latinx artists in the United States through the lens of Latinx history, from the early twentieth century to the present. The course explores various historical moments using Latinx artists and art-making as a matrix to further our understanding of belonging and the presence of Latinx identity in the United States. Focusing on the cultural production of Latinx people in the diaspora, we read essays from the social sciences and humanities, giving the course a strong interdisciplinary component. The weekly readings and art exercises follow a thematic structure driven by critical issues specific to Latinx art and history. We emphasize themes pertaining to the immigrant experience, including migration, identity formation, visibility, social movements, marginalization, and isolation. Race, gender, colorism, economic status, and sexuality are topics threaded throughout the course. The course addresses the diversity within the Latinx community, including Mexican-Americans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans, as well as newer arrivals. The course will culminate in the completion of a collective art project, later to be realized in Little Village, incorporating themes discussed throughout the term.

The Personal is Political: A Poetry Workshop

Faculty: Meredith Nnoka
TA: Reginald BoClair

The Second Wave of the feminist movement introduced us to the phrase “The personal is political” in the late 1960s. But in poetry, the link between the personal and the political has long been at the center of how many poets view their own work. In this course, we will explore poetry that connects poets’ personal experiences to broader political, national, or societal themes. Each week will present a different angle on poetry that bridges the personal and the political, and will require students to complete weekly readings of poetry and prose, to write one poem a week, and to participate in weekly writing workshops, leading to a class anthology and an in-class poetry reading.

Introduction to Observational Astronomy

Faculty: Amanda Farah
TA: Daniel Perkins

Through lecture-style instruction and group problem solving, mostly in the form of weekly homework, this course gives a broad understanding of concepts in astronomy. We will start the course by learning about the objects in the universe which we can see with our own eyes: stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, and nebulae. We will then explore how we observe these objects and what we learn from those observations. We will discuss the history of the universe, including its invisible components: the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, and the expansion of the universe today. We will end with a few lectures on gravity and black holes.

Legal Writing 101

Faculty: Megan Porter and Steve Weil
TA: Joseph Dole

Legal Writing 101 introduces students to the fundamentals of legal research, writing, and analysis. Students will learn how to write clear, concise, accurate, and structured work that communicates their ideas to different audiences. Each week, students will review real examples of legal writing, participate in writing exercises, and pair-and-share their work with their classmates. Students will learn how to state their claim, choose appropriate priorities to support their claims, and persuasively advocate for their point of view. Writing is improved through collaboration. Students should be prepared to work as a team to improve their writing skills by reading and critiquing one another’s writing. By the end of the semester, students will produce a piece of legal writing that showcases their growth.

UWW Study Hall

Faculty: Tim Barnett, Jason LaFountain, Gabrielle Christiansen, Brockelley Grenn, 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 and Alice Kim

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

2022-23 Academic Year

Poetry for Our Times
Faculty: Meredith Nnoka

Comics for Now
Faculty: Damon Locks

Narrating Social Change
Faculty: Cathy Cohen and Alice Kim

Sciences Through the Ages
Faculty: Shireen Hamza

Black Lives in Historic Context
Faculty: Johari Jabir

English: Advanced Composition
Faculty: Tim Barnett

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

Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank
Faculty: Melissa Lorraine, Alice Kim, and Timmy Châu

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