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Jenna Dreier, PhD

College in Prison Program Manager, University of Minnesota

Photo Credit - Shakespeare in Prison: A Program of the Detroit Public Theater

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About Me

Hello, I'm Jenna Dreier, and I'm a PhD, experienced educator, prison arts researcher, and advocate for higher education for all

Throughout my graduate studies I conducted firsthand research on prison arts programs dedicated to the study and performance of Shakespeare. My dissertation drew on interviews with facilitators, participants, and program alumni in order to question the ethics of appropriating canonical literature to serve the interests of marginalized communities. Rather than arguing for Shakespeare’s universality, I focused on the importance of antiracist, antisexist, and decolonizing pedagogical practices that help facilitators navigate this appropriation. My investigation of pedagogies that foster agency and individual thinking—rather than prescribing dominant values—directly informs my teaching. My research has also taught me the value of shared vulnerability in the classroom for allowing open discussions of the complex ethical questions essential to the study of literature.

Following the completion of my PhD, I moved from theory to practice, and began working with colleagues at the University of Minnesota on developing plans for a higher education in prison program. In June 2021, I was hired full time to lead the development of this program, which will launch in fall 2021.

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In the Classroom

Teaching Experience

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Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow,
Departments of English and Writing Studies,

University of Minnesota

ENGL 3007: Shakespeare (remote semi-synchronous).
ENGL 1001W: Introduction to Literature (fully online asynchronous). (2 sections)
ENGL 1031: Introduction to the Short Story (fully online asynchronous).
WRIT 1301: University Writing (fully online asynchronous). (2 sections)

Instructor, Departments of English and Writing Studies,
University of Minnesota

ENGL 3007: Shakespeare. (2 sections)
ENGL 3007: Shakespeare (fully online asynchronous).
ENGL 1041: Adaptation: Literature to Film.
ENGL 1501W: Literature and Public Life (community-engaged learning).
WRIT 1301: University Writing. (4 sections)

Research & Publications

“Decolonizing Pedagogies in Prison Performance Programs: Making Shakespeare Secondary”

This article, which has been accepted for inclusion in a forthcoming special issue of Research in Drama Education on “Carcerality, Theatre, Rights” is drawn from my research on the Shakespeare in Prison program for women facilitated by Frannie Shepherd-Bates.

Photo Credit: Shakespeare in Prison - Detroit Public Theatre

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“From Apprentice to Master: Casting Men to Play Shakespeare’s Women in Prison”

Humanities 2019, 8(3), 123

This article is drawn from my first-hand research on Jonathan Shailor’s Shakespeare Prison Project, a program for men who are currently incarcerated at Racine Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.

Photo Credit: The Shakespeare Prison Project

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“Shakespeare with Survivors: Learning from Incarcerated Women in the #MeToo

In a forthcoming chapter in Teaching Literature and Writing in Prisons (MLA Book Series), I argue that we ought to look to Prison Shakespeare performances by women that have been adapted for survivors of abuse as instructive examples for developing a new ethics of teaching and performing Shakespeare in the #MeToo era.

Photo Credit: Shakespeare in Prison - Detroit Public Theatre

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Recent Presentations
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Awards & Recognition

Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship


Graduate School,
University of Minnesota

Graduate Student Teaching Award


Department of English,
University of Minnesota

Samuel Holt Monk Prize for Published Scholarship


Department of English,
University of Minnesota

Darwin Patnode Fellowship


Department of English,

University of Minnesota

Graduate Research Partnership Program Fellowship


Graduate School,
University of Minnesota

Edward Griffin Fellowship Fund


Department of English,
University of Minnesota

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