I am a PhD candidate in sociology interested in qualitative methods, communities and urban sociology, the history and current state and practices of carceral institutions. Analyzing archival data, I’ve written about the history and social meanings of women’s prisons. For the past five years, I have taught evening classes with and for incarcerated women at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island. My dissertation examines the affective, situational, and contextual interplay of race, class, culture and behavior in the dynamic and often charged cultural and commercial space that is both exceptional and ubiquitous in urban contexts: the neighborhood funeral home. I use multiple layers of intensive qualitative research –participant observation at three distinctive neighborhood funeral homes, formal interviews, and participation at state, national, and historically black funeral director conventions and educational trainings. I am also conducting oral history interviews for a project documenting the history of one of New York City’s oldest drug rehabilitation programs.

After class, the number of things we could talk about was kind of overwhelming -- I think in a good way - though this also may point to the utility of focusing on teaching goals. I feel like I lucked out being paired with someone from outside of my discipline who was teaching a topic central to my own discipline - social class. I know I gained a lot watching my partner tackle class - a favorite and impossible to teach topic for sociologists. In addition to tracking teaching goals, I made notes about general teaching dynamics, tics, etc - that I know I find interesting (if not always helpful) to have pointed out since we so rarely have the chance to be observed.

Observation Plans:
Eric Herschthal's observation by Kristin Murphy


Kristin Murphy's observation by Max Shmookler