The criminal, in the sense that we so often use the word, is just as imaginary as the equator.
THOMAS MOTT OSBORNE, former Sing Sing Prison warden and reformer, 19151
Carceral Fantasies is about how motion pictures and the penitentiary in the United States came into contact, both figuratively and literally, in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Expansive in scope, the book examines the earliest cinematic representations of prison and punishment (mostly pre-1915) and, more intriguingly, how motion pictures were shown to both male and female prisoners and gained a foothold in American prisons between 1909 and 1922. Why the double objective, why not just one of these methodologically distinct approaches? Prison is a paradox: unknown to the vast majority and yet resolutely imagined through popular culture, what I call the ...
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