Fitting Sentences: Identity in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Prison Narratives
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.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 270 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
Author InformationJason Haslam is an associate professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University.
Table of contents
Part One: The Carceral Society
- ‘They locked the door on my meditations’: Thoreau, Society, and the Prison House of Identity
- ‘Cast of Characters’: Problems of Identity and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Part Two: Writing Wrongs
- ‘To be entirely free, and at the same time entirely dominated by law’: The Paradox of the Individual in De Profundis
- Positioning Discourse: Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘Letter from Birmingham City Jail’
Part Three: Prisons, Privilege, and Complicity
- Being Jane Warton: Lady Constance Lytton and the Disruption of Privilege
- Frustrating Complicity in Breyten Breytenbach’s The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist
Closing Statements / Opening Arguments
Subjects and Courses