PCAP's undergraduate courses train students to facilitate creative arts workshops in state prisons, youth detention and treatment centers, and prison reentry programs. Graduate students may also enroll in some courses. Contact PCAP at for more information.
ENGLISH 221.001/RCHUMS 334.010 - Literature and Writing Outside the Classroom
This course will invite students to take part in the ongoing scholarly conversation surrounding revision, and to examine the revision processes of writers at various levels of skill. On the further assumption that you never know a thing half as well as when you are forced to teach it to someone else, this course will also invite students to guide others in the act of revision. To do so, the course will partner with the Prison Creative Arts Project's Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing, a yearly anthology of work by inmates in Michigan prisons. This journal, produced by students and community volunteers, offers concrete and individualized feedback to each of the hundreds of writers whose work is rejected each year; students will have the opportunity to exemplify and complete their learning in this course by taking on a few such rejected manuscripts themselves.
Students can expect to read 20-30 pages per week, to draft and revise two pieces of writing, to revise one older piece of writing (which you consider the best work you've ever done), to write several smaller revision memos addressed to would-be MRPCW contributors, and to confer regularly on each others' writing (which will develop their abilities as readers and self-revisers).
Instructor: Phil Christman
THTREMUS 334/RCHUMS 332.001 - The Atonement Project
The Atonement Project seeks to begin community dialogues around issues of reconciliation, atonement, and healing after suffering the harm caused by crime and incarceration. Students will conduct arts workshops in the genre of their choosing in prisons, juvenile facilities, and community settings.
Instructor: Cozine Welch and Faculty
Consent: With permission of instructor. Email Cozine Welch to schedule an appointment.
THTREMUS/RCHUMS 335 - Theatre and Incarceration
Artistic practice in prisons has occurred since the inception of prisons themselves, though popular thought tends not to connect the idea of the arts with that of criminal justice systems. This course surveys the history of performance in prisons through the examination of plays written by and about prisoners as well as narratives which chronicle the process of creating theatre in prisons. More importantly, the course also requires all enrolled students to enter an adult prison once a week throughout the semester to lead a theatre workshop with prisoners. Students will be placed in pairs to facilitate workshops, and each workshop will hold a performance at the end of the semester. Students and prisoners together create social change through their performances, both by bringing two disparate communities (ie. undergrads and prisoners) into meaningful interaction and also by using theatre to explore significant social issues.
Students who complete this course are eligible to participate in PCAP's summer theatre exchange program at UniRio in Brazil.
Instructor: Ashley Lucas
Consent: With permission of instructor. Email Ashley Lucas to set up an interview
HUMS 334.013 - Topics in the Humanities: Poetry Workshop with Incarcerated Youth
The outcome statistics for Washtenaw County youth offenders are shocking –- according to the Youth Arts Alliance, 85% of incarcerated youth will either be in prison or dead by the age of 25. Non-profits like YAA! and the Prison Creative Arts Program (PCAP) are working now with the RC Creative Writing program to help make a difference. If you have an interest in teaching creative writing, working with arts non-profits, working with kids, or engaging in social justice work, this class is for you. This course will explore Creative Writing Pedagogy in a practical and hands-on way; we’ll develop writing prompts, experiments and procedures to help incarcerated writers, age 13-16, to create and revise new poems, culminating in a final poetry chapbook. We’ll meet once a week to discuss creative writing pedagogy and how to create exercises and syllabi; the second class meeting will be held at Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center with incarcerated youth offenders, in partnership with Youth Arts Alliance. Goals of the class: learning about incarcerated artists and writers; learning how to lead creative writing workshops for a public population in general and high school students in particular; leading prompts and workshops; producing a lot of writing of your own; developing a final collaborative project with the class, compiling, editing, printing a chapbook, and organizing a final group reading. Together, we will be learning about writing in response to art/ art in response to writing, Ouilipo and Dada experiments, found texts, collage, erasures, imitations, and writing games. Mostly, we’ll all work very hard together to produce something exciting and new. Series poems, prose poems, or different styles of writing– all encouraged and accepted here. Students who sign up for this class are required to attend a day-long PCAP training and also to lead at least one youth workshop with a writing/art theme of your own creation.
Instructor: Sarah Messer
THEATREMUS 336.001 - PCAP Brazil Theatre Exchange
- Rio de Janeiro
- Winter with field component during Spring/Summer
- Sophomores and above
- GPA 2.0
- Instruction in English
- No language prerequisite
Learn how theatre can support community dialogue and social change on this 3-week GCC program.
The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) trains students to facilitate arts workshops in prisons, juvenile detention centers, and community settings, bringing together crime victims, former prisoners, and their families. The nation of Brazil has a long history of using theatre as a vehicle to discuss and promote social justice causes. PCAP began an exchange program in 2013 with theatre faculty and students at the Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UniRio). Travel with UniRio faculty into a variety of off-campus settings to engage in “teatro em communidade.”
In Brazil, you will collaborate with Brazilian theatre students and faculty while attending theatre classes at UniRio and observering the theatre work being done not just in Brazilian prisons but also in the Maré favela and in two hospitals in Rio de Janeiro. Learn about what theatre can accomplish in non-traditional settings and why people engage in performance practices in these challenging contexts.
Earn 5 total credits during winter term—3 for THTREMUS 399 and 2 for the off-campus component, THTREMUS 336/536.
Instructor: Ashley Lucas
RCARTS 334 - Humanize the Numbers
Humanize the Numbers is a special advanced photography lab-based course. The course is built around a collaborative project between the members of the course and inmates at Thumb Correctional Facility. Students will visit the prison to facilitate workshops with prisoners, making photographs as one of the products of the workshops. Students will develop skills in photographic tools, including cameras, Photoshop, and digital printing.
The course will also provide opportunity to integrate artistic production into a community-based setting.This course will serve as an introduction to socially engaged arts practice, with collaborative photography at its center. We will be establishing the basics of collaborative projects, through weekly workshops at Thumb Correctional Facility (Lapeer, MI). We will cover the building blocks of photography in the classroom. Then we will transition to teaching these basic principles in the prison workshop setting. In addition to the technical elements of photography, students will be introduced to basic theory and approaches of socially engaged community-based creative practice. It is recommended (but not required) that students take RCARTS 285 prior to enrolling in this course.in photography and the need to correlate those skills with a student’s other academic interests.
Readings, accompanied by class discussions, will be used to integrate a more informed approach to the collaborative creative work.Students will be evaluated on their participation and leadership for weekly workshops at Thumb CF, photographic work throughout the semester, and class participation.
Students are required to participate in the PCAP training at the start of the term, and should also account for travel time to Lapeer when considering their schedule.
Instructor: Isaac Wingfield
Consent: With permission of instructor. Email Isaac Wingfield to schedule an interview.