Honors Projects


Hannah BoyleFollow


This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the positive impact of Shakespeare in prison programs on incarcerated individuals, utilizing empirical data, anecdotal evidence, and scholarly insights. It underscores the educational benefits of engaging with literature and performance arts within prison settings, as well as the various social-emotional learning opportunities, especially the ability to reduce recidivism rates and enhance incarcerated individuals' quality of life.

Drawing on the experience and narrative of many practitioners of theatre in prison and Shakespeare in prisons programs, this paper works to show Shakespeare's unique capacity to connect incarcerated populations with those who have gone through the traditional K-12 system, as well as to enrich vocabulary, foster creativity, and promote empathy.

Utilizing the myriad of experience and data available, the paper advocates for the expansion of arts programs in prisons, emphasizing their cost-effectiveness, ability address societal marginalization of incarcerated populations, and to prevent reoffense. Insights from practitioners gleaned in personal interviews also provide valuable perspectives on the transformative potential of prison theater programs, emphasizing the value of qualitative scholarship on the subject, while also discussing the difficulties in finding quantitative data.

Ultimately, the paper aims to encourage the adoption of Shakespeare in prison programs nationwide through compiling varied anecdotal and hard data, recognizing the programs' role in fostering personal growth, critical thinking skills, and positive behavioral changes among inmates. It seeks to push the importance of humane and (re)habilitative approaches within the prison system, promoting (re)habilitation and (re)humanization of incarcerated individuals who seek to reenter into society.





Second Major


First Advisor

Stephannie Gearhart

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Heidi Nees

Second Advisor Department

Theatre and Film

Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2024