Fitting Sentences: Identity in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Prison Narratives

By Jason Haslam

© 2005

Fitting Sentences is an analysis of writings by prisoners from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in North America, South Africa, and Europe. Jason Haslam examines the ways in which these writers reconfigure subjectivity and its relation to social power structures, especially the prison structure itself, while also detailing the relationship between prison and slave narratives. Specifically, Haslam reads texts by Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Jacobs, Oscar Wilde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Constance Lytton, and Breyten Breytenbach to find the commonalities and divergences in their stories.

While the relationship between prison and subjectivity has been mapped by Michel Foucault and defined as “a strategic distribution of elements” that act “to exercise a power of normalization”, Haslam demonstrates some of the complex connections and dissonances between these elements and the resistances to them. Each work shows how carceral practices can be used to attack a variety of identifications, be they sexual, racial, economic, or any of a variety of social categories. By analysing the works of specific prison writers but not being limited to a single locale or narrow time span, Fitting Sentences offers a significant historical and global overview of a unique genre in literature.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 270 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP000758

  • PUBLISHED DEC 2005

    From: $59.25

    Regular Price: $79.00

    ISBN 9780802038333
  • PUBLISHED DEC 2005

    From: $68.25

    Regular Price: $91.00

Quick Overview

By analysing the works of specific prison writers but not being limited to a single locale or narrow time span, Fitting Sentences offers a significant historical and global overview of a unique genre in literature.

Fitting Sentences: Identity in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Prison Narratives

By Jason Haslam

© 2005

Fitting Sentences is an analysis of writings by prisoners from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in North America, South Africa, and Europe. Jason Haslam examines the ways in which these writers reconfigure subjectivity and its relation to social power structures, especially the prison structure itself, while also detailing the relationship between prison and slave narratives. Specifically, Haslam reads texts by Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Jacobs, Oscar Wilde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Constance Lytton, and Breyten Breytenbach to find the commonalities and divergences in their stories.

While the relationship between prison and subjectivity has been mapped by Michel Foucault and defined as “a strategic distribution of elements” that act “to exercise a power of normalization”, Haslam demonstrates some of the complex connections and dissonances between these elements and the resistances to them. Each work shows how carceral practices can be used to attack a variety of identifications, be they sexual, racial, economic, or any of a variety of social categories. By analysing the works of specific prison writers but not being limited to a single locale or narrow time span, Fitting Sentences offers a significant historical and global overview of a unique genre in literature.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 270 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
  • Author Information

    Jason Haslam is an associate professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Opening Statements

    Part One: The Carceral Society

    1. ‘They locked the door on my meditations’: Thoreau, Society, and the Prison House of Identity
    2. ‘Cast of Characters’: Problems of Identity and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

    Part Two: Writing Wrongs

    1. ‘To be entirely free, and at the same time entirely dominated by law’: The Paradox of the Individual in De Profundis
    2. Positioning Discourse: Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘Letter from Birmingham City Jail’

    Part Three: Prisons, Privilege, and Complicity

    1. Being Jane Warton: Lady Constance Lytton and the Disruption of Privilege
    2. Frustrating Complicity in Breyten Breytenbach’s The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist

    Closing Statements / Opening Arguments

    Notes

    Works Cited

    Index

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