Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison

Nov 3, 2021, 6:00 pm7:30 pm
Labyrinth Books Princeton
Labyrinth Books
Public / Open To All
Event Description

Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Chris Hedges has taught courses in drama, literature, philosophy, and history since 2013 in the college degree program offered by Rutgers University at East Jersey State Prison and other New Jersey prisons. He is joined for this special event by two of his former students at East Jersey State.

In his first class at this prison, where students read and discussed plays by Amiri Baraka and August Wilson among others, the students set out to write a play of their own. In writing the play, Caged, which would run for a month in 2018 to sold-out audiences at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, and later be published, students gave words to the grief and suffering they and their families have endured, as well as to their hopes and dreams.

The class's artistic and personal discovery, as well as transformation, is chronicled in heart-breaking detail in Our Class. This book gives a human face and a voice to those our society too often demonizes and abandons. It exposes the terrible crucible and injustice of America's penal system and the struggle by those trapped within its embrace to live lives of dignity, meaning, and purpose.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist who was a foreign correspondent and bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans for fifteen years for The New York Times. He is host of the Emmy Award­nominated RT America show On Contact. Hedges is the author of many influential books and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University, and the University of Toronto. He has taught college credit courses through Rutgers University in the New Jersey prison system since 2013. Boris Franklin was incarcerated for 11 years; Russ Owen for 32. They both graduated from Rutgers and are working now as community organizers for the Industrial Areas Foundation.

Note: This event will be held in person. Proof of vaccination and masks will be required, and seats will be well-spaced. Because social distancing will limit attendance, a free ticket, to be picked up starting October 20th at Labyrinth Books, is required. First come first serve and 2 ticket/person limit. The event will be live-streamed on Crowdcast

Event Type
In Conversation
Event Category
AAS Recommended Events


Any individual, including visitors to campus, who requires an accommodation should contact Dionne Worthy (dworthy@princeton.edu) at least one week in advance of the event.