The Mass Media’s Carceral Imaginary/Prison Culture(s) #ASA2014

Below is a call for proposals/abstracts for a panel that I am putting together for the American Studies Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles this fall. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in participating and share widely. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email or social media!

While recent scholarship on prisons, prisoners, and punishment in America has revealed a great deal about the historical, social, and cultural foundations of mass incarceration and its many consequences for America(ns), scholars have paid little attention to the ways in which prisons have been represented in popular culture. If mass media such as film, radio, television, comics, and literature exist to entertain audiences, then how do they make places like prison “fun” or “entertaining”? If we agree with Ray Surette that most of what people know about prisons comes from mass media, then understanding how audiences learn about prisons via popular entertainment seems especially critical for scholars of prisons and punishment in America. 

This panel seeks papers and multimedia presentations that address depictions of prisons in American popular culture (and comparative approaches) in any time period. Please send an abstract and CV to Alan Pike at alangpike at gmail dot com by January 21, 2014. The topic is open for some revision if necessary to capture the variety of papers submitted.