HOPE, “Repair,” and the Complexities of Reciprocity: Inmates Tutoring Inmates in a Total Institution

Shannon Carter


This article analyzes one prison literacy program in Texas that trains inmate participants to teach other men and women, likewise incarcerated and often dyslexic, to read and write in English. Noting the regular recurrence of the words “repair” and “hope” in participants’ descriptions of HOPE and associated activities, the author makes extensive use of feminist-epistemologist Elizabeth Spelman’s theory of “repair” and Paula Mathieu’s articulation of “hope” in her attempt to understand the nuances of “repair” and the “hope” it enables/generates behind these prison walls. Finally, given HOPE’s configuration as a faith-based program with Christian origins and Carter’s own position as a secular academic, the article ends with an extended discussion of the tensions between Bible-based discourses and the academy.

Full Text:


Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.