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.

If all follows plan, an Israeli space project will land in early April on the moon’s Mare Serenitatis, the Sea of Serenity.  Somewhere here there is an unintended comment on the distance needed to travel for Middle East peace.  The Beresheet lander may achieve escape velocity from earth orbit, but it will not escape Middle East politics. (More…)

One measure of twentieth-century conceptual conflict over comics in China lies between the positions of literary critic Hu Feng and Mao Zedong. Hu Feng, an inheritor of the May 4th revolutionary tradition, argued that individual subjectivity provided the basis for responding to popular sentiment and political will. (More…)

Sometimes I wish the United Kingdom would finish its prolonged post-imperial suicide.  Divide the kingdoms and make Cornwall great again. (More…)

Where does prison literature begin and where does it end?  At the prison gates? Only with jailed writers? Given the sprawling impact of prisons on American society, no definition of prison literature will hold. (More…)

One night on a kibbutz in the early 1970s, a German volunteer named Wolfgang turned up at my door asking for assistance.  He’d climbed over a high gate returning from Tel Aviv, fell, and had a nasty cut across his palm.  I took him to the clinic while a friend fetched the kibbutz nurse, a concentration camp survivor with a tattoo on her arm. (More…)

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…)