Chris Hedges

Cindy Seip

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges was a New York Times foreign correspondent and bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans for 15 years. He is also the author of numerous books and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. Hedges has taught courses in drama, literature, philosophy, and history in the college degree program offered by Rutgers University at East Jersey State Prison and other correctional institutions in the state since 2013. In his first class, students read and discussed plays by Amiri Baraka and August Wilson and set out to write a play of their own. In writing Caged – which would run for a month in 2018 to sold-out audiences at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey – students gave words to the grief and suffering they and their families endured, as well as to their hopes and dreams. Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison (Simon & Schuster) gives a face and voice to those our society too often demonizes and abandons. Publishers Weekly praised it as “raw and intimate. … Combining searing, well-informed critiques of the U.S. criminal justice system with sympathetic character profiles and inspirational accounts of intellectual and emotional breakthroughs, this is a powerful look at how creative expression can provide ‘a taste of freedom.’”