ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Breea Willingham, a former St. Bonaventure University professor, will return to campus this month to speak about race, class and gender oppression of women in prison. Her talk, “Write On, Sister! How Incarcerated Women Use Writing to Reclaim and Define Their Power and Identity,” will be presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, in Dresser Auditorium of the John J. Murphy Professional Building. Willingham will examine how writing helps incarcerated women reclaim and define their power and identity, and clarifies the meaning of their prison experience.
The program is free and open to all. Her talk is sponsored by St. Bonaventure’s Visiting Scholars Committee and by the university’s Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Willingham said, “As an African-American female scholar and educator, I allow my unique standpoint and background to ground and inform my research and teaching.” Her research has been presented at national conferences and also at international conferences in Scotland, Poland, and Israel. Her research plans include continuing work with incarcerated African-American women, promoting prison education, and examining the impact of incarceration on the relationship between African American fathers and their children.
After teaching for six years in St. Bonaventure’s Jandoli School, Willingham left the university to finish her doctoral studies at the University at Buffalo. She will complete her Ph.D. this year. Her teaching and research interests are African American women and incarceration; African-American women’s prison writing; African American women’s literature; prison education; and race, class and gender in the media.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, the Jandoli School’s dean, said, “Ms. Willingham’s research speaks directly to the Franciscan value of recognizing the dignity and worth of all people. Incarcerated men and women are largely out of society’s sight and thus forgotten.
“When prisoners come to mind, powerful stereotypes — many of them reinforced by the media or for political purposes — come into play: for example, prisoners have done something to deserve incarceration and therefore are lesser members of society,” Hoffmann said. “Ms. Willingham’s research serves as a powerful reminder for us to ‘hate the sin, but love the sinner.’”
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them
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