I teach twentieth-century American literature at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. My research focuses on the history and literature of imprisonment in the United States. I am especially committed to the study and publication of writing by imprisoned and formerly imprisoned people. In 2012, I edited a collection of writings on the death penalty, Demands of the Dead: Executions, Storytelling, and Activism in the United States (Univ. of Iowa Press).
In 2004, with friends and students, I founded the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP), a nonprofit organization that sends free books to people imprisoned in six states and facilitates book clubs in a federal prison. APBP has mailed more than 20,000 books to people imprisoned in the Appalachian region. Since its inception, APBP has developed even larger educational goals: 1) to provide students, staff, faculty, and community members with opportunities for civic engagement and publicly engaged research; 2) to collaborate with imprisoned people to create educational spaces inside prisons; and 3) to generate, through social media as well as local and national events, conversations about mass incarceration, the ongoing history of racism, and practices of restorative justice.