"The Prison and the American Imagination" by Caleb Smith

The Prison and the American Imagination Caleb Smith

Yale Studies in English
Publication date:
03 May 2011
272 pages: 234 x 156 x 15mm
black & white illustrations

How did a nation so famously associated with freedom become internationally identified with imprisonment? After the scandals of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and in the midst of a dramatically escalating prison population, the question is particularly urgent. In this timely, provocative study, Caleb Smith argues that the dehumanization inherent in captivity has always been at the heart of American civil society. Winner of the 2009 Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication or Research, sponsored by the Yale College Dean's Office. "In Smith's haunting and incisive work-he writes beautifully-he wonders how a nation that has been obsessed by the idea of freedom from its outset could have become so identified with incarceration."-Jay Parini, Chronicle of Higher Education

Caleb Smith is Associate Professor of English at Yale University. He lives in New Haven, CT.

"'Smith's book is remarkably inventive and wide-ranging with its close interweaving of literature and history, its refusal to rely slavishly on Foucault, its close reading, and its refreshingly lucid style.' (Terry Eagleton)"