Author: Joe Lockard
Joe Lockard is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University, where he directs the Antislavery Literature Project. His latest book is Prison Pedagogies: Learning and Teaching with Imprisoned Writers (Syracuse University Press, 2018), co-edited with Sherry Rankins-Robertson.

On 11 December, the UK parliament will vote on the EU withdrawal treaty.  The May government is at imminent risk of collapse should parliament fail to ratify the Brexit treaty.  All of this matters in Arizona and every other US state. (More…)

Some of my best students are sex offenders.  These are the untouchable lepers of US prison systems.  (More…)

Slave narratives are working-class literature in extremis.  They relate an existential struggle for possession of self and labour.  Failure to wrest control away from a master or to effect escape often means traumatic depression.  The slave narrative is predicated on the eventual success of that struggle.  Stripped to its essence, a slave narrative is a working-class fight to the death.  (More…)

Jair Bolsonaro’s violent authoritarianism is nothing new in Brazilian society.  The country’s Afro-Brazilian population lived under these terms for centuries.  Today Bolsonaro voices an unfounded belief, common in the United States as well as Brazil, that slavery is long gone and irrelevant to contemporary concerns.  (More…)

The struggle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court embodies a fundamental civil rights struggle, in which accusations of sexual assault are debated in relation to broader issues of personhood. Kavanaugh represents the proposition that the state may control women’s bodies if they want to exercise self-governance by deciding on an abortion. (More…)

Decades ago, in First Blood: Part II, the character John Rambo asked, “Do we get to win this time?” If the United States had won the war, Rambo would not have been invented to rescue fictional victory from real defeat. Because it lost, its filmmakers learned to profit from telling stories about successes that never happened. (More…)

When US Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited Paul, who wrote Philippians from prison, in support of imprisoning migrant children, the irony was hideous. Immediately after Sessions and White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders used the Bible to defend Trump Administration policy, the Internet was flooded with religious progressives — and some conservative clergy as well — providing counter-interpretations. (More…)

When we started the midnight milking in the kibbutz dairy barns, there were two tasks.  One worker drove cows into the washing pen to begin the process. The other worker made coffee.  Hot coffee was the right of dairy workers beginning their shift.  (More…)

I have two preferred cafés. The first, near our home in Phoenix, is independently owned, with a wide porch looking out over an artificial lake. The owners are a Greek family and they make sure that there is baklava available.  (More…)

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville famously wrote of the “fast-fish and loose-fish” doctrine. A dead whale connected to an occupied boat or marked with a distinctive symbol – “waifed” – was a recognized possession, a fast-fish. Any other whale found floating was a loose-fish. His narrator Ishmael uses these two principles of the whaling community as the basis for an inquiry into the relationship between freedom and power. (More…)

At our six-year-old daughter’s dance finale, an American Jewish physician sat down next to me. “It’s a great day, isn’t it, with the embassy in Jerusalem?” His wife, a lovely woman from Beersheva, tried to intervene: “I don’t think Joe is the one to say that to.”I decided to respond anyway. “I always asked ‘what will be the price in lives?’ Now we know the answer. (More…)

What happens when love and Marxism are at odds? That seems a very 20th Century question, one that used to be asked often. A comrade sacrificing love for the greater cause of revolution is a theme that does not inspire – or delude, take your choice – as it did once. (More…)