Prisons and Punishment in American Culture (NeMLA)

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

Call for Papers
Prisons and Punishment in American Culture (roundtable)

44th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
March 21-24, 2013
Boston, Massachusetts
Host Institution: Tufts University

America currently incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on earth, and in a 2000 presentation "The American Prison in the Culture Wars," H. Bruce Franklin argues "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." From Jack London and Robert Lowell to Malcolm X and Marilyn Buck, American prison writers have offered readers a sense of the world behind bars and critiqued the society that incarcerates them. Critical prison studies, an interdisciplinary intellectual project that works to dismantle systems of policing and punishment while supporting prisoners, has grown in recent years. The prison lives in our culture as a set of images and imagining and occupies a central place in the humanities.

This roundtable seeks papers that discuss the role of incarceration in the study and teaching of contemporary American literature. What does it mean to teach literature in an era of mass incarceration? Possible topics include the role of literature within critical prison studies, pedagogical strategies for teaching prison texts, literacy programs within prisons, and prison abolition texts. I invite scholars from across time periods, regional focuses, and genres into what I hope will be a provocative and interdisciplinary exploration of literature in an era of mass incarceration.

Please send inquiries or abstracts in body of email to with "NEMLA" in subject line.

Deadline: September 30, 2012
Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

The 2013 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. The 44th annual event will be held in historic Boston, Massachusetts, a city known for its national and maritime history, academic facilities and collections, vibrant art, theatre, and food scenes, and blend of architecture. The Convention, located centrally near Boston Commons and the Theatre District at the Hyatt Regency, will include keynote and guest speakers, literary readings, film screenings, tours and workshops.

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.