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CFP: Reading & Writing in Prison (4-5 June 2010 / Edinburgh Napier U)

Reading and Writing in Prison: An Interdisciplinary Conference

Edinburgh Napier University

4-5 June 2010

This conference aims to bring together scholars, writers and practitioners to share their perspectives on the significance of reading and writing in prisons.

Writing about imprisonment raises key issues that go beyond an immediate concern with incarceration and its institutions, involving notions of subjectivity, citizenship and nationhood. Scholars and practitioners alike have long been arguing that opportunities for reading and writing in prisons can become a dignifying tool for prisoners to re-evaluate and reconstruct their lives, with positive impact on recidivism rates. The conference will act as a platform for exchange about existing scholarship and practice in the area, with the long-term goal of facilitating future research networks, publications and practical projects.

This event explicitly seeks conversations across the disciplines and between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’. Contributors are invited to address reading, writing and imprisonment in any geographical location, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Some of the questions this conference wishes to address are: what defines the genre of prison literature or prison autobiography and how has it changed historically? How do institutional contexts and penal policies impact on reading and writing in prison? What effect do creative practice, prison education and reading groups have on groups of offenders and, conversely, society at large? What is the role of researchers and universities in contributing to debates around narratives of imprisonment, reading and writing in prison?

Possible topics include:

  • Prison literature and prison (auto)biography as a genre
  • The history and publishing context of prison writing
  • Representations of prison reading and writing experiences
  • Gender, class, ethnicity/race and age and their impact on reading and writing in prison
  • Writing and political imprisonment
  • Prison libraries and reading groups
  • Creative writing in prisons: practice and problems

Invited speakers who have agreed to participate (subject to funding) include:
Ed Wiltse on student-prisoner reading groups and the object(s) of literary studies; Gowan Calder and Caspar Walsh on creative writing; Jenny Hartley and Rosalind Crone on prison reading in the nineteenth century; Sarah Turvey on prison reading groups; Bashabi Fraser on the imprisoned writer and the nation.

Contributors should submit an abstract of their proposed paper (250 words) and a brief biographical statement to a.schwan@napier.ac.uk by 1 March 2010.

For further information, please contact the organiser:
Dr Anne Schwan
Email: a.schwan@napier.ac.uk

Image by flickr user alias_archie / CC licensed

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