CONVERSATIONS WITH PICTURES FROM A DRAWER

U.S.A., ID LLCE2016-351;       This paper presents the results of an innovative assignment carried out in an advanced undergraduate literature course at the University of Michigan entitled “The Prison in Literature, Photography, and the Moving Image.” The students studied key theoretical, photographic, and literary texts that engaged the history of representations of the prison and incarcerated individuals. They then produced a photography exhibition that staged several dialogues between themselves and formerly incarcerated individuals about the prisoner identification photographs included in Bruce Jackson’s 2009 publication Pictures From a Drawer: Prison and the Art of Portraiture. The exhibition recorded these critical engagements as a dialogic project, highlighting the effects of collaborative interpretation on understandings of how, what, and whom we see in the images and texts that render the prison and its subjects.