Experiencing Prison



This multifaceted project seeks to promote and encourage the inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary study of all aspects of prison, prison writings and the literature of incarceration and confinement.

Imprisonment following conviction and detention without trial occur in various forms in most societies across the world, sometimes sanctioned by the state itself, sometimes used as a political strategy by military, ideological, political or religious groups within a state, or by groups desirous of becoming a state. We will explore the experience of incarceration from prisoners, detainees, incarcerated asylum seekers, former prisoners of war, political prisoners or those detained because of nationalist, religious or other convictions.

The project will examine literature about the experience of imprisoning and imprisonment across the entire range of perspectives, including historical, fictional, phenomenological, biographical and autobiographical. All genres and media will be considered, in order to examine the widest possible range of representations, past and contemporary, which communicate the experience and nature of imprisonment.

The project will also consider the reflections of agents concerned with the delivery side of incarceration, including correctional, detention and prison staff of all ranks as well as those who target and detain on behalf of groups working in the name of a political, religious, or social cause. Contributions would also be welcome from those involved in providing amelioration to incarceration in one form or another, such as literacy, political education, counselling, religious instruction or support, and other forms of service provision.


The project will explore a wide range of themes, reflecting on the historical, political, social and economic contexts which produce the literature of incarceration, as well as reflections on the ways in which prisoners and detainees are treated, and the implications and consequences of such treatment.

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Out of our deliberations it is anticipated that a series of related cross context research projects will develop.