The Beautiful Prison

full name / name of organization: 
Doran Larson, Hamilton College & Attica CF
contact email: 

The Beautiful Prison

A proposed, special issue of Law, Culture, and the Humanities titled "The Beautiful Prison" invites scholars, theorists, literary artists, and current and former inmates, to imagine the prison in a transformed state. While the prison quarantines law-breakers, it is itself held captive by the limits of our ability to imagine it as anything other than a site of legal, political, and economic control, of race/class war, and of the theatre of violence that signifies the presence of law. "The Beautiful Prison" is premised upon the belief that, even while bearing such weight, the prison will begin to change (or wither away) only when we can change our imagination of the prison. "The Beautiful Prison" invites writers to trespass beyond the limits of existing facts and cultural imagination, to open a space of dialogue and speculation on the prison's transformation-abolition into a site of social reconstruction.

Submitters should avoid rehearsing the facts and statistics surrounding the prison as the unjust, violent, and destructive institution that it is. "The Beautiful Prison" seeks writers able to move outside of tried discourses.

A strike by individual imaginations against the history of sites of institutionalized pain, "The Beautiful Prison" seeks to draw a new horizon around the limited picture we hold today of collectively sanctioned justice. The Beautiful Prison is not a prison at all, but the prison's antidote in hope.

Empirical investigation, critical analysis, policy review, and activism around existing prison issues and systems certainly continue to be needed. "The Beautiful Prison," however, seeks to chart directions for change by asking contributors to engage in flights of imagination that cast an aura of light behind the prison as it exists, thus implicating the existing prison's (obscene) silhouette without engaging in policy debate.

Approaches might include but are not limited to:

*Ideal constructions or reconstructions;
*Utopias and Utopian outcomes;
*Fantastic social functions;
*Reuse of existing brick and steel facilities;
*The prison on/as a new horizon of justice;
*Transnational visions;
*The prison as process without location;
*The prison in community service.

Please send a brief sketch or abstract (250-500 words) to by August 15, 2010. Contact Doran Larson, at the same address, for further information.