Prose and Cons: Essays on Prison Literature in the United States

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D. Quentin Miller
McFarland, Sep 15, 2005 - Literary Criticism - 288 pages
As the United States’ prison population has exploded over the past 30 years, a rich, provocative and ever-increasing body of literature has emerged, written either by prisoners or by those who have come in close contact with them. Unlike earlier prison writings, contemporary literature moves in directions that are neither uniformly ideological nor uniformly political. It has become increasingly personal, and the obsessive subject is the way identity is shaped, compromised, altered, or obliterated by incarceration. The 14 essays in this work examine the last 30 years of prison literature from a wide variety of perspectives. The first four essays examine race and ethnicity, the social categories most evident in U.S. prisons. The three essays in the next section explore gender, a prominent subject of prison literature highlighted by the absolute separation of male and female inmates. Section three provides three essays focused on the part ideology plays in prison writings. The four essays in section four consider how aesthetics and language are used, seeking to define the qualities of the literature and to determine some of the reasons it exists.
 

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Contents

White Readers of
15
SelfImprisonment
33
Critical Witnessing in Latinao and African American
62
Dealing with Loss
111
The Evolving View of
131
George Jackson
147
The Last Bastion of Morality?
174
Writing into the PrisonIndustrial Complex
203
Prison Slang and the Poetics of Imprisonment
233
Why Prisoners Write
246
About the Contributors
273
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About the author (2005)

D. Quentin Miller, an associate professor of English at Suffolk University in Boston, first became interested in prison literature while teaching writing in Connecticut prisons. He has contributed essays to a number of books including ones about Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and others. His work has been published in several journals including American Literature. He lives in Medford, Massachusetts.

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