Prose and Cons: Essays on Prison Literature in the United States
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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Abu-Jamal Abu-Jamal’s African American Alex’s American prison Attica audience autobiography Baca Baldwin bandele become Bedford Hills Bell Gale Brothers and Keepers Bunker Cage captivity narrative Chevigny conﬁnement convict crime criminal culture Death Row deﬁned describes di›erent di‡cult discourse Dog Eat Dog e›ect essay experience Federman ﬁction ﬁctional ﬁgure ﬁnal ﬁnd ﬁrst gender Gilmore Gilmore’s Huey Newton imprisonment incarceration inmates jail John Edgar Wideman John Wideman justice Lowell Lowell’s Mailer Malcolm Malcolm X masculinity moral mother Mumia Abu-Jamal murder narrator novel o›ers o‡cials one’s Peltier poem poetry political postmodern prison guards prison literature prison narratives prison slang prison system prison writing prison-industrial complex prisoner’s promise punishment Rashid reader reﬂect Robby Robby’s sentence signiﬁcant social Soledad Brother solidarity speaker speciﬁc story su›ering suggests survival tell tion trauma violence voice Wideman women prisoners words Writing Workshop York