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2012 Danky Fellow: Sarita Alami

The 2012 James P. Danky Fellow Sarita Alami

This year's James P. Danky Fellowship, supporting research in Society collections on the history of print or digital culture, has been awarded to Emory University's Sarita Alami, a doctoral candidate in history. 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 in publications created inside American penal institutions. Alami's project examines prison periodicals, which were generally written by prisoners for prisoners, over the course of the last century. These publications provide a novel method for tracing the history of institutional culture from the inside out.

Alami's Research Project

The dramatic rise in the nation's prison population during the last 30 years has changed what it means to be incarcerated. Before this development, prisoners were often given the freedom to write and publish newspapers. 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 in their writing.

The Society possesses the most diverse collection of prison publications in the nation, including issues of 14 African-American prison periodicals that began during the Prisoners Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Alami expects that examining the form and content of prison newspapers will illuminate how inmates managed to create an increasingly vociferous penal press despite heavy institutional censorship.

The Danky Fellowship

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, offers an annual short-term research fellowship.

The Danky Fellowship provides $1,000 in funds for one individual planning a trip to carry out research using the Society's collections. Grant money may be used for travel to the Society, costs of copying pertinent resources, and living expenses while pursuing research in Madison. If in residence during the University of Wisconsin semester, the recipient also gives a presentation on his or her work as part of the colloquium series of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture.

:: Posted June 18, 2012

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