An article by Doran Larson, the Walcott-Bartlett Chair of Ethics and Christian Evidences and Professor of Literature and Creative Writing, appears in the current issue of Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais. The journal is a publication of the Centre for Social Studies at Portugal’s University of Coimbra.
In “Writing Resistance, Writing the Self: Literary Reconstruction in United States Prison Witness,” Larson discussed the experience of alienation of self-identity – and the fight against that alienation – by people incarcerated in the United States.
Using first-person texts in the American Prison Writing Archive (APWA), Larson argued that “incarceration can so completely degrade human personality that even prison witness documenting that degradation constitutes resistance to the prison regime.
“Writing from inside often represents a moment not only of resistance to the prison regime, but of reconstruction of the self that is the premise for all further resistance,” he said.
Looking at patterns across the essays posted in the APWA, Larson suggested that “the very availability of the APWA could re-ground future U.S. prison scholarship.”