Comparative Literature | Cul/Mod Ezp: Interdis/Intl APP
C155 | 11473 | Lindsey Campbell


CMLT-C155 (section 11473)
Culture and the Modern Experience:
The Prison
9:30-10:45 MTW
Fulfills Culture Studies and A&H requirements

Incarcerated in a French prison, Genet is said to write for one
reason: he "makes his isolation bearable by retreating into a world
not only of his own making, but one over which he had total
control." Alienated, stripped of his rights, denied any form of
personal or social power, the prisoner writes to reclaim that which
he has been denied. In this way the prison, despite, or because of,
its limitations, has been the birth place of hundreds of artistic
and literary works. Both as the factual location of countless
authors and as a fictional model, the prison has played a major role
in modern-day literature.

Through the reading and discussion of novels, essays, memoirs
and poems we will embark on a trans-national exploration of prisons
and prisoners.  We will employ texts from Sub-Saharan Africa, the
Americas, North Africa and the Middle East. The course will be
divided into three topics: gender, politics, and conflicts of
ethnicity and race. Each third of the course will be devoted to one
of these topics and how they manifest themselves in prison
narratives.

The course will address some key questions about cultural
standards, social change, and the place and role of literature,
including: Are there consistent responses to being imprisoned across
cultures, genders, and political stances? Are all experiences of
imprisonment alike? What similarities exist between fictional
accounts and memoirs? Is fiction capable of entering the public
dialogue about race, ethnicity, gender and politics? What might the
genre of prison literature contribute to public awareness and public
policy? Discussing these questions will allow us to explore
complexities of both culture and current social issues.