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Carceral FantasiesCinema and Prison in Early Twentieth-Century America$
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Alison Griffiths

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161060

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161060.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

“The Great Unseen Audience”

“The Great Unseen Audience”

Sing Sing Prison and Motion Pictures

(p.151) Chapter Four “The Great Unseen Audience”
Carceral Fantasies

Alison Griffiths

Columbia University Press

Chapter 4: “’The Great Unseen Audience’: Sing Sing Prison and Motion Pictures” considers the unique conditions of possibility for showing film in Sing Sing Prison. Issues addressed include how film obtained a foothold and related to the rhythms of carceral life at Sing Sing as well as carving out new routines for incarcerated men; why Hollywood executives curried favor with Sing Sing’s Warden Lewis E. Lawes; and cinema’s role in inculcating ideas of modern citizenry (a clarion call in the US penological discourse). The chapter also considers the role played by early radio broadcasting in the prison, since radio headsets installed in Sing Sing’s cells in the late 1920s also brought in the outside world and served as a strategic tool for Warden Lawes, whose fireside chat radio programs were piped directly into the cells on Sunday evenings.

Keywords:   Sing Sing Prison, Lewis E. Lawes, Warner Bros, Prison Radio

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