The James P. Danky Fellowship
2012 Danky Fellow: Sarita Alami
Sarita is PhD Candidate in the History department at Emory University. She is interested in the way print culture has affected the lives of prisoners and the development of institutional policy. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Life Sentences: The Rise and Fall of Prison Journalism in the United States, 1912-1980,” explores the interpersonal, national, and legal conversations that have taken place within the nation’s penal publications.
Recent state and federal budget crises have reinvigorated conversations about mass incarceration in the United States. The sweeping expansion of the nation’s carceral system in the last thirty years has resulted in both a surge in the number of prisons and a redefinition of the prison experience. Scholars have detailed how changes in prison policy, along with overcrowding and the stigmatization of “convicts,” have corroded many of the small freedoms that prisoners have traditionally possessed and caused many inmates to surrender their sense of individuality, autonomy, and civic engagement.
Before the rise of mass incarceration in the late 1970s, many prisoners were afforded the freedom to write and publish newspapers. While their frequency and structure varied, the number of prison publications at any given time from 1912 to 1980 ranged from a dozen to well over a hundred. While most studies of twentieth century prisons have focused on laws and policy or on instances of riots and violence, this project examines prison periodicals, which were generally written by prisoners for prisoners. The product of a collective endeavor, these documents provide a novel method for tracing the history of institutional culture from the inside out.
The penal press is a remarkable example of the give and take that has characterized institutional life in the United States. Operating under circumstances that were heavily censored and highly constrained, inmate-journalists discussed national and international politics, engaged each other and the public, and reflected a dynamic, oppressive, and often-controversial penal culture. The Wisconsin Historical Society houses the most diverse collection of prison publications in the nation, including issues of 14 African American prison periodicals that arose during the Prisoner’s Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Examining the form and content of prison newspapers illuminates how inmates managed to create an increasingly vociferous penal press despite heavy institutional censorship.
In honor of James P. Danky's long service to print culture scholarship, the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Historical Society, is offering an annual short-term research fellowship.
The Danky Fellowship provides $1000 in funds for one individual planning a trip to carry out research using the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society (please see details of the collections at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org). Grant money may be used for travel to the WHS, costs of copying pertinent archival resources, and living expenses while pursuing research here. If in residence during the semester, the recipient will be expected to give a presentation as part of the colloquium series of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture.
Preference will be given to:
- proposals undertaking research in print culture history
- research likely to lead to publication
- researchers early in their career
- researchers from outside Madison
We strongly encourage applicants to speak with the Reference Archivist at the WHS (phone: 608-264-6460; email: email@example.com) before applying for a grant. We are happy to help identify potential collections of which you may not otherwise be aware.
There is no application form. Applicants must submit:
1) A cover sheet with name, telephone, permanent address and e-mail, current employer/affiliation, title of project, and proposed dates of residency.
2) A letter of two single-spaced pages maximum describing the project and its relation to specifically cited collections at the society and to previous work on the same theme, and describing the projected outcome of the work, including publication plans. If residents of the Madison area are applying, they must explain their financial need for the stipend.
3) Curriculum vitae.
4) Two confidential letters of reference. Graduate students must include their thesis advisor.
Applications are due by May 1st. The recipient will be notified by May 31st.
Please email applications to:
Coordinator, Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture
All donations are tax deductible.
Please visit http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/supportus/ to make a donation to the Danky Fellowship. Leave a message in the Comments box to designate your donation for the Danky Fellowship.
You may also write a check (marked "Danky Fellowship") payable to the Wisconsin Historical Foundation and mail it to: Wisconsin Historical Foundation, 816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706-1482 (phone: 608-261-9364).
Thank you for your generosity.