This essay addresses education's paradoxical binding to disciplinary and hierarchical formulas and to social change and personal transformation, an irony uniquely extreme within the prison classroom. It juxtaposes two pedagogical models — one conventionally liberal, the other significantly more radical — to question the purpose and potential of prison education. In the process, the essay measures close reading, a textual practice that is also the hallmark of literary study, against the highest possible liberationist goals of the prison abolition movement.

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