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Telling Prison Stories: The Spectacle of Punishment and the Criminological Imagination

Carrabine, E (2016) 'Telling Prison Stories: The Spectacle of Punishment and the Criminological Imagination.' In: UNSPECIFIED, (ed.) The Arts of Imprisonment: Control, Resistance and Empowerment. UNSPECIFIED, 47 - 72. ISBN 9780754675860

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Abstract

This chapter explores the diverse ways in which stories of prison and punishment have been told in the literary and visual arts. It does not provide a comprehensive survey, but rather points to some significant ways in which the institution has appeared in different cultural representations. The importance of such spectacles was famously announced in Nietzsche’s proclamation that ‘in punishment there is so much that is festive!’ (Nietzsche, 1887/1996:50, emphasis in original). This carnivalesque understanding of punishment clearly influenced Foucault’s analysis of the early modern rituals surrounding public executions in Europe. Of course, Foucault then described the gradual disappearance of this public spectacle of violence and the installation of an entirely different economy of punishment by the early nineteenth century, through a bland listing of the rules from an institutional timetable used in a Paris reformatory. Today, for the vast majority, state punishment is only made visible through mediated representation. In comparison to the amount of scholarly attention that crime and detection have received as themes of popular discourse (in gangster movies, police procedurals, murder mysteries, courtroom dramas, and so forth), the place of punishment in media culture has received scant attention. Although criminologists have recently begun to take seriously the images of incarceration produced by the culture industries (examples include Wilson and O’Sullivan, 2004; Mason, 2006; Rafter, 2006), this chapter will further enlarge the field of vision here. In doing so, it will take a longer, wider, and deeper look at how the prison has figured in popular culture.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2012 09:25
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2021 10:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/1817

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