Submissions are invited for a collection of original essays exploring the representation of prisons and imprisonment in British fiction of the Victorian period. This volume intends to explore new ways of investigating how imprisonment is textualized in and through narrative fiction and how prison literature supports, complicates, or questions the construction of discursive subject positions. Prison fiction is here understood to encompass both the literary expression of a prisoner's own inside experience and any depiction of incarceration by outside observers. While any approach is welcome, contributions that engage theoretical or historical issues or re-assess existing (Foucauldian or post-Foucauldian) paradigms are particularly encouraged.
Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
Literary representations or classifications of prisoners, e.g. of their bodies, psychological states of mind, imaginative faculties, etc.
Portrayals of prisoners' identities in terms of class, ethnic, national, gender, queer, denominational, religious, etc. discourses.
Specific functions of carceral discourse and prison imagery for women and minorities (as victims, narrators, commentators, critics).
Depictions of physical space (cells, hallways, courtyards, etc.) and liminal areas (walls, gates, windows, etc.), or of moments in a prisoner's life (arrest, daily routine, boredom, violence, release, etc.).
Perceptions of the prison staff (wardens, officers, doctors, chaplains, etc.) and their role within the penal system, or of the administrative regime and prison economy at large.
Explorations of the possibilities and limitations of "transcending" imprisonment.
Connections between narrative techniques or the novel as genre and the (re)presentation of imprisonment, esp. the possibility or impossibility of panoptic narrative structures (e.g. in form of an application, extension, or critique of John Bender, D.A. Miller, and others).
Possible relationships, if any, between literary conceptions of imprisonment, the realities of incarceration, and Victorian penal reforms (in theory or practice) or between inside and outside perceptions of the prison.
Metaphorical treatments of imprisonment (and their potential affinity with or difference from the representation of actual penal institutions).
Factors that contributed to the importance of prison literature and carceral imagery during the nineteenth century (as opposed to earlier or later periods).
Comparative readings (such as comparisons with contemporaneous texts from the British Empire, Europe, or the Americas; the later reception of Victorian prison literature; re-writings of metropolitan Victorian works from the (former) colonial periphery; or the relationship between prison fiction and the depiction of imprisonment in other genres or media).
The significance of Victorian prisons and their literary representations for a 21st-century audience and present penological debates.
Papers should be approximately 6,000-9,000 words in length.
Please send all inquiries, abstracts, or final papers by April 30, 2005 to Frank Lauterbach (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jan Alber (email@example.com).
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