Award to support new twist on Inside-Out course
Assistant Professor of History Reiko Hillyer has been awarded a planning grant from the Whiting Foundation. Under the auspices of the Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship program, this award will support her proposed project, “Theater from the Inside-Out: Illuminating Mass Incarceration.” Specifically, this grant will enable Dr. Hillyer’s students in “Crime and Punishment in US History,” an Inside-Out course taught at the Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) in Portland, to write and stage a theater piece at the prison. Dr. Hillyer has previously taught this Inside-Out course, which brings 15 Lewis & Clark undergraduates together with 15 incarcerated students to learn as peers, four times. In Dr. Hillyer’s words, “Inside-Out creates an encounter that challenges the boundaries of stigma, race, and class, and helps all students understand the history of the prison crisis, interrogate its seeming inevitability and naturalness, and develop compassion for those whom it affects most directly.” Each iteration of the course involves writing weekly papers and culminates with the students engaging in a coursework-related creative project; with Whiting Foundation support, the culmination of Dr. Hillyer’s Spring 2019 course will be a theater piece, which students will write and perform at the prison. In keeping with the mission of Inside-Out and of the humanities more broadly, the piece will provide historical context for the rise of mass incarceration, blended with personal monologues. Dr. Rebecca Lingafelter, Assistant Professor of Theater, will collaborate on the project by attending classes throughout the semester to get to know the students and the coursework and lead several sessions focusing on acting, movement, music, writing, and rehearsing the final theater piece. The aim of the project is to contextualize the carceral state and amplify the voices of incarcerated people; future plans include bringing the project and the experiences of the incarcerated students to the larger public through a staged performance at a local theater.