Something else to talk about.
Inside Literature is a 501(с)(3) non-profit corporation and community-based learning program in Austin, Texas. We provide university-level instruction to inmates in pre-trial facilities at zero cost to taxpayers. We offer 6-week literature courses led by instructors with advanced degrees in related fields.
We foster community ties, critical engagement, and personal growth through the collective study of literature with incarcerated persons.
We believe that providing the most educationally underserved members of our community with an opportunity to read and discuss great literature benefits our students and instructors, as well as corrections and law enforcement officers and the wider community.
We use Community-Based Learning, a teaching approach distinguished by an emphasis on reflection as well as collaboration and reciprocity among community members. Community-Based Learning programs enrich students’ academic experience and encourage civic engagement while confronting community challenges and supporting community interests.
“This is my event of the week. To interact with the other guys in class on a level not convict related has given me the gift of better understanding and respect for my peers. Hopefully classes like these can keep coming and allow others to share these same gifts.”
— student evaluation
Inside Literature works exclusively with an underserved population of pre-trial inmates.
Frequently those who are incarcerated pre-trial are unable to pay their bail and are incarcerated because of poverty
Less than 50% of pretrial inmates are able to post bail, even when bail is set at $5,000 or less
11.5 million Americans are currently cycling in and out of our jails annually
500,000 individuals are—on any given day—awaiting trial
It is our belief that we must work to help our pre-trial incarcerated population develop and maintain ties to the community while incarcerated so that reentry will be successful. We must understand that new skills, perspectives, and outlooks are required for that success, regardless of whether these individuals are ultimately convicted or not.
RECIPROCITY: We believe literature is primarily a meeting place, secondarily a professional discipline. We believe in a student-centered approach to encourage learning from others through engagement with literature. Dialogue is an essential aspect of the program.
REFLECTION: Literature provides an opportunity for self-reflection, both when it is read and when it is discussed. Engaging with literature provides opportunities for self-discovery, self-efficacy, and critical thinking.
COLLABORATION: IL fosters human connection in the meeting ground of the literary text. Both teachers and students have something to learn and something to teach in our program. Teachers lead class sessions in teams of two to model collaboration as well as to provide witnessing and accountability during the class sessions.
CITIZENSHIP: Above and beyond the professional integrity mandated by a career in the Humanities, IL is committed to contributing to the community as educators to make the study of literature available to as wide an audience as possible.