The Contours of Prison Writing: Or What We (Should) Talk About When We Talk About Prison Writing
From Jeff Layne
Faculty, English Department, CSU, Chico
Dr. Heggins Bryant explores literature written by prisoners; what his dissertation calls, “The Productive Intellectual Labor of U.S. Prison Writers.” Beginning with Robert Stroud, the famous “Birdman of Alcatraz,” who wrote widely used books such as “Digest on the Diseases of Birds,” Dr. Heggins Bryant looks at the rich written body of work produced by inmates. He identifies the major prison writing genres as scientific research, legal opinions from self-educated jailhouse lawyers, letter writing on social issues, and personal essays and testimonials. Dr. Heggins Bryant concludes by describing and recommending books written by prisoners. The presentation dovetails with the 2015-2016 Book in Common, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, which focuses on prisoners and criminal justice issues.
Recorded: September 25, 2015