Witness in the Era of Mass Incarceration works from the premise that if the law establishes and maintains both its practical and symbolic authority on the basis of its monopoly on legally sanctioned violence and the suffering threatened and delivered by such violence, then we cannot know the full human cost or concrete moral status of any legal state without human witness to the depth and manner of suffering meted out by such violence. The prison writer stands in the position to offer such witness. The prison writer knows the law's violence in the flesh. For every other writer, reflection upon the degree and manner of suffering meted out under legal sanction-that is, reflection upon the full human cost of the contemporary legal order-is necessarily speculative. In close readings of first-person witness from prisons in the U.S., Ireland, and Africa, Witness in the Era of Mass Incarceration discovers literary tropes that chart at once local, national, and transnational conditions of carceral experience-the extant conditions of legalized suffering. In exhibiting the labor required to move from institutionalized abjection to the minimum requirements of rights-bearing personhood, this witness offers the sole credible vision of the possubility of a post carceral understanding of freedom.
Publisher: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Number of pages: 196
Weight: 481 g
Dimensions: 239 x 160 x 21 mm
Witness in the Era of Mass Incarceration is a timely work on a tremendously important subject, and Doran Larson's wide knowledge, profound reading of prison writing, and powerful insights could be of inestimable value for us in the first quarter of the twenty-first century. -- H. Bruce Franklin, the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies, Rutgers University
The transnational prison writing that Larson analyzes so poignantly here advances a compelling "prison witness" project. It honors the diverse voices of prisoners across the globe, demystifies prison regimes, identifies central tropes that anchor a prison poetics, and perhaps most importantly, recognizes a humanity in prisoners in a way state violence denies and, by doing so, inspires readers to imagine a world without prisons. Witness in the Era of Mass Incarceration is unique in bringing together usually disparate fields, offering profound contributions to literary criticism, prisoner advocacy, and human rights work. -- Kitty Calavita and Valerie Jenness, co-authors of Appealing to Justice: Prisoner Grievances, Rights, and Carceral Logic