Seminar: ‘British Prisoner Autobiographies’

Mike Nellis ‘British Prisoner Autobiographies’ (with a Detour into some Foreign Territory), 3.30-5.00pm T217 Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow. This is a joint seminar with the department of Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences, University of Glasgow) All welcomeAbstract: Prisoners have been writing about their experience inside for almost as long as there have been prisons. They have had a range of mixed reasons for doing so, from the political to the commercial. Many have been reform and redemption stories, and these have often been used to promote discussion of penal practice. Considerable moral weight was attached to such narratives, and the best of them were often likened to, if only for rhetorical effect, the great literature of testimony and endurance that emerged from Tsarist Russia, The Holocaust and the Gulag. Such narratives continue to be produced, but their credibility has latterly been diminished by the emergence of a new species of autobiographical true crime writing which celebrates rather than regrets past crimes. This seminar will look at the changing nature of prisoner autobiography, and the uses which criminology has periodically made of them. (A paper has been prepared in advance, and you can obtain a copy by emailing: s.armstrong@lbss.gla.ac.uk)