Episode 18: Teaching Inside the Prison System with Kate Levin and Nicholas De Dominic

In Episode 18, we talk to Professors Kate Levin and Nicholas De Dominic of the USC Writing Program about their work with the Prison Education Project and the obligation an institution like USC has to the incarcerated population and the South Central Los Angeles community.

You can learn more about the Prison Education Project on their website and on their Instagram and Facebook pages. USC faculty interested in participating in the Faculty Forum or developing their own PEP course can contact Kate at klevin@usc.edu or Nik at dedomini@usc.edu. Learn more about Kate here and Nik here.

This episode was recorded on June 23 and contains explicit language. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

“There’s nothing that quite disrupts a person’s preconceptions…and forces you to confront your own attitudes about things, like going in there [to prisons] and doing work in the space.” -Kate Levin

“It is an enrichment opportunity. It’s also, I think, for some a stepping stone to higher education. But, frankly, it’s also a way to get back to their lives, their families, and their communities sooner, which I think is important.” -Kate Levin

“I’m deeply, deeply saddened and crushed by everything that’s going on in the world. But one of the benefits is that our more conservative administration is in a place to affect change, whereas I don’t think they were before…We are in a place now where not only the importance of this work is recognized but we can actually institutionalize the program.” @nikded

“This is not just a nice thing for USC to have or do…This the responsibility of the University, which is located in South Central Los Angeles. It is not divorced from the issues of incarceration in Southern California…This is you paying your rent to be in this space, at a bare minimum.” -Kate Levin

“A classroom is a classroom is a classroom…There is no differentiation between that space [the prison classroom] and what goes on at USC, and I think that’s why it’s so very powerful.” @nikded

“Writing is experiential, and in those classrooms [in the prisons] where we’re teaching writing, we have just a wealth of extensive experience that these students are allowed to draw upon. They’re writing to bear witness.” @nikded

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