This Cultural Studies course explores public scholarship as both an outcome and a domain of inquiry. We will consider when public scholarship is an end in itself and/or when it is a means to some other goal. In considering public scholarship as an end in itself, we will ask: What does public scholarship do that traditional academic scholarship does not? What is the role of publication – in print, online, in community fora – in defining a public? What is the role of research – in print, online, or community fora – in defining scholarship? How can attention to cross-sectoral protocols of research and publication change how we define the goals of humanities scholarship? In considering public scholarship as a means, we will ask: How does public scholarship become a means to achieve specific research, teaching, or community-action goals? How does it become a means to change who counts as a knowledge-producer and how the value and rewards for producing knowledge are distributed? By attending carefully to public scholarship as a means to specific goals, how might the university participate in circuits of knowledge production and dissemination without asserting copyright or other domain privilege over the product?
We will explore these questions by studying one sample practice: collaboration across geographies or architectures of incarceration. Readings will be drawn from the humanities, social science disciplines, interdisciplinary fields, and various public sectors including mainstream journalism, alternative media, digital platforms, community-based organizations, and currently incarcerated groups. Course outcomes will include content knowledge in critical carceral studies; skills acquisition in multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and cross-sectoral literacies and communication; and production of a project in “public scholarship” connecting content knowledge and skill versatility, including self and collective reflection on process and outcomes. While the main readings for the course will focus on incarceration, students may develop individual course projects focused on collaboration across walls in other domains.