"Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make": The Prison(er) in Literature and Film (2024 NeMLA panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Imprisoned in 1642, Richard Lovelace penned the words that became his best-known: “Stone walls do not a prison make,/Nor iron walls a cage:/Minds innocent and quiet take/That for a hermitage” (“To Althea, From Prison”).

Lovelace’s poem points to the duality of the prison as both a physical structure and a mental and spiritual condition. Moreover, the poem submits that the mind can remain free even while the body is confined. For Lovelace, the only true prison is the prison of the mind and soul.

This panel will explore the topics of the prisoner and of the prison as a physical and/or psychological element in novels, stories, poems, films, television, and other genres and media.

Papers may reflect on, but are not limited to, the following ideas:

Surveillance and the unequal gaze

The physical structures of the prison

The prison of the mind/soul

Prisoner as subject, prisoner as object

Escape and release

Freedom, liberty, rights

Invisibility/dehumanization/institutionalization of the prisoner

The “what are you in for?” story

Time and space

Innocence, guilt, justice

Prison personnel (wardens, guards, doctors, psychologists)

Dungeons, towers, solitary confinement

The “outside”

Abstracts are accepted through September 30, 2023. Please submit a 300-word abstract by September 30 to NeMLA’s online portal: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/CFP

The session number is #20344.

The 55th annual NeMLA convention will take place March 7-10, 2024 in Boston, MA. For more information on the conference and to view NeMLA’s guidelines for abstracts, visit https://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html

Questions regarding the panel may be addressed to Lori Newcomb, LoNewco1@wsc.edu