Starting in the early 1970s, the incarceration rate in the United States increased dramatically. Today, the United States incarcerates its residents at a rate five times the rate at which it incarcerated them for the first three quarters of the twentieth century. No other nation incarcerates such a large proportion of its population. This course explores: How did we get here? How does mass incarceration intersect with white supremacy, immigration, capitalism, gender, and democracy? What counts as a crime? What are the consequences of the high rate and dense social concentration of incarceration in the United States? How have people, both inside and outside prison, resisted this development? How does incarceration shape the functioning of U.S. society as a whole? What life like inside prison? What does prison abolition mean, and is it possible? The course will provide historical perspective—the premise being, it was not always this way—but we will focus on contemporary issues, drawing upon the best in recent journalism, social documentary film, art, and music as well as works of history. We will also have class visits from formerly incarcerated people.