Critical Storytelling from behind Invisible Bars

Undergraduates and Inmates Write Their Way Out


Critical stories are narratives that recount the writer’s experiences, situating those experiences in broader cultural contexts. In this volume of Critical Storytelling, marginalized, excluded, and oppressed peoples share insights from their liminality to help readers learn from their perspectives on living from behind invisible bars. Female inmates at Decatur’s Correctional Center and the undergraduate Millikin University students who worked with them come together to give voice to their specific histories of living from behind invisibile bars and pose important questions to the reader about inciting change for the future. Specifically, the voices in this volume seek to expose, analyze, and challenge deeply-entrenched narratives and characterizations of incarcerated women, whose histories are often marked by sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, PTSD, a lack of education, housing insecurity, mental illness, and substance addiction. These silenced female inmate voices need to be heard and contextualized within the larger metanarrative of prison literature. Through telling critical stories, these writers attempt to: sustain recovery from trauma, make positive changes and informed decisions, create a real sense of empowerment, strengthen their capacity to exercise personal agency, and inspire audiences to create change far outside the reaches of physical and metaphorical bars.

Contributors are: Anonymous, Soren Belle, Megan Batty, Dwight G. Brown, Jr., Sandra Brown, Kathryn Coffey, Kelly Cunningham, Paiten Hamilton, Kathlyn J. Housh, Rebekah Icenesse, Kala Keller, Jelisa Lovette, Bric Martin, Amanda Minetti, Laura Nearing, Angie Oaks, Claire Prendergast, Cara Quiett, J. M. Spence, Noah Villarreal and Alisha Walker.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Carmella J. Braniger, Ph.D. (2003), Oklahoma State University, is Associate Professor of English at Millikin University. She has published poems and critical stories, including a story in Critical Storytelling in Uncritical Times (Sense, 2017), for which she served as editor.
Kathryn Coffey is an undergraduate at Millikin University. She has had articles published on the Decaturian and BURST. She also has work published in Collage (Fall 2019).
Rebekah Icenesse is an English Writing undergraduate at Millikin University. She has had articles published in BURST, and the Decaturian, where she serves as an editor.
Alex V. Miller is a Professor at Millikin University where he teaches all levels of acting and stage combat, serves as Coordinator of Performance, Mainstage Director, Resident Fight Director, and is founder of and Executive Director for Shakespeare Corrected. Though his professional performance career has taken him from coast to coast, he currently lives on a small farm in Hammond, IL with his wife and two children.
Notes on Contributors
Alex V. Miller

1 A Prisoner’s Melody
Sandra Brown, Jelissa Lovette and Alisha Walker
2 Barcode
Sandra Brown
3 Caged
Jelissa Lovette
4 The Forbidden & the Prohibited
Soren Belle
5 Truth or Dare
Sandra Brown
6 The People I Met When the Sky Went Dark
Bric Martin
7 The Great Wall of Insanity
J. M. Spence
8 State of Mind
Jelissa Lovette
9 The Call
Sandra Brown
10 Pivotal Times
Angie Oakes
11 A Daughter’s Sorrow
Sandra Brown
12 Talking It out from the Inside
Cara Quiett
13 Mother-Less Child
Jelissa Lovette
14 Not Waving, Not Drowning
Sandra Brown
15 Isaac
Claire Prendergast
16 Prison
Angie Oaks
17 Love Find Me
Jelissa Lovette
18 Little Girl Lost
Angie Oakes
19 Everlasting Kiss
Jelissa Lovette
20 Backburner Bitch
21 Love Alive
Kala Keller
22 My Dragonfly
Laura Neering
23 Puzzle Pieces in My Eyes
Rebekah M. Icenesse
24 Piece of Me
Jelissa Lovette
25 Nothing New under the Sun
Sandra Brown
26 Living a Life with Invisible Bars
Kathlyn J. Housh
27 Where Would I Be
Jelissa Lovette
28 My Odyssey
Sandra Brown
29 What Makes Straight so Great?
Dwight G. Brown, Jr.
30 Nature’s Sanctuary
Angie Oakes
31 Nature’s Pride and Promise
Cara Quiett
32 Finding Stability in Motion
Megan Batty
33 Queen of Soul
Jelisa Lovette
34 Melodies & Recipes
Cara Quiett
35 Unanswered Questions
Paiten Hamilton
36 Gregory’s Gift
Sandra Brown
37 Sentimental Syrup
Cara Quiett
38 Perfection: A History of Me & My Multi-Colored Elephants
Kathryn A. Coffey
39 Final Thoughts
Sandra Brown
40 Stopping the Cycle: My Journey with Generational Body Image
Kelly Cunningham
41 My Four Opportunities to Grow Up
Noah Villarreal
42 My Last Bow
Amanda Minetti
43 The Eulogy
Sandra Brown
44 Yoga Me Free
Cara Quiett
45 Metamorphosis
Sandra Brown

Carmella J. Braniger, Rebekah M. Icenesse, Kathryn A. Coffey and Alex V. Miller
All interested in intersections among disciplines, especially the humanities and social sciences, particularly English, Communication, and social justice program students; anyone teaching communication, composition, or creative and/or critical storytelling courses.
  • Collapse
  • Expand