The American Prison in the Culture Wars
AbstractToday, amid the growing consciousness of the magnitude and effects of the prison-industrial complex, the literature of the American prison—past and present—is being rediscovered. As I argue, just as we now assume that one cannot intelligently teach nineteenth-century American literature without recognizing slavery as context, one cannot responsibly teach contemporary American literature without recognizing the American prison system as context. For we are beginning to become aware that, in the words of Ho Chi Minh eighty years ago, one of the great "atrocities" of the "predatory capitalists" is substituting prisons for schools.
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