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Convict Voices
Women, Class, and Writing about Prison in Nineteenth-Century England
Anne Schwan



Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies

New Hampshire
2014 • 304 pp. 9 illus. 6 x 9"
Comparative Literature / Penology

$45.00 Paperback, 978-1-61168-672-2
$37.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-673-9

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.



Schwan's nuanced, richly contextualized readings illuminate how a ranged of nineteenth-century texts give voice to the all-too-often inaudible perspectives of female prisoners.” —Megan Sweeney, associate professor of English, University of Michigan

Sensitive interdisciplinary reading of texts concerning female prison experience in nineteenth-century England; fascinating study of the voices of nineteenth-century female offenders

In this lively study of the development and transformation of voices of female offenders in nineteenth-century England, Anne Schwan analyzes a range of colorful sources, including crime broadsides, reform literature, prisoners’ own writings about imprisonment and courtroom politics, and conventional literary texts, such as Adam Bede and The Moonstone. Not only does Schwan demonstrate strategies for interpreting ambivalent and often contradictory texts, she also provides a carefully historicized approach to the work of feminist recovery. Crossing class lines, genre boundaries, and gender roles in the effort to trace prisoners, authors, and female communities (imagined or real), Schwan brings new insight to what it means to locate feminist (or protofeminist) details, arguments, and politics. In this case, she tracks the emergence of a contested, and often contradictory, feminist consciousness, through the prism of nineteenth-century penal debates. The historical discussion is framed by reflections on contemporary debates about prisoner perspectives to illuminate continuities and differences. Convict Voices offers a sophisticated approach to interpretive questions of gender, genre, and discourse in the representation of female convicts and their voices and viewpoints.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Schwan offers a 'sustained interrogation—and occasional celebration' of women's voices on the subject of prison. In so doing, she attends to the too-often ignored centrality of those voices in the histories of modern imprisonment and feminism.”—Jason Haslam, associate professor of English, Dalhousie University

“This book is strongest in its analysis of contemporary perceptions of female criminality and of the morally and socially challenging phenomenon of women in prison. Schwan’s selection of cases and events and the range of literature—both factual and fictional—is impressive and the analysis is generally persuasive. I do not know of another work that ranges with such brio from street-sold broadsheets to Victorian and Modern literature and culture.”

Victorian Studies



ANNE SCHWAN is a reader in literary studies and cultural theory at Edinburgh Napier University. She is coauthor of How to Read Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (Pluto 2011).



Wed, 15 Nov 2017 13:44:23 -0500