Document Type


Original Publication Date



A conversation with Dr. David Coogan, Associate Professor of English, VCU Department of English with Dr. Kevin Farley, Humanities Collections Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.

Date of Submission

April 2017


Professor David Coogan teaches rhetorical theory and criticism and composition, as well as service learning, for the VCU Department of English. For the last ten years, he has also taught and collaborated with writers in the Richmond City Jail, in a program called Open Minds. In his published and forthcoming work on the importance of writing for social and personal transformation – Electronic Writing Centers: Computing the Field of Composition, The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen Scholars and Community Engagement (co-edited with John Ackerman), Writing Our Way Out: Memoirs from Jail, and Memoirs of Mass Incarceration: The Rhetoric of Revolutionaries, Witnesses and Survivors (forthcoming in 2017) – Professor Coogan explores ways of finding oneself in the midst of extreme confusion, guilt, social injustice, and searing pain. From his work with writers in prison, he has gathered profound insights into the writing process for those who are often silenced, and has both taught with writers and learned from them as well. In this conversation, he expands on his experiences and describes the nature of this important work.


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VCU English Publications