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Book Launch - Monika Fludernik

Prof. Dr. Monika Fludernik

Englische Literaturwissenschaft
Universität Freiburg

Metaphors of Confinement - The Prison in Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy
Wann 13.11.2019
von 17:30 bis 19:00
Wo FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Hörsaal
Kontakttelefon +49 (0)761 203-97362
Teilnehmer universitätsoffen/open to university members
Termin übernehmen vCal

Metaphors of Confinement - The Prison in Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy


Fludernik 13.11.2019


  • Examines how literature depicts imprisonment
  • Combines law and literature studies with cognitive metaphor theory and historical analysis
  • Raises topical issues about the ethics of imprisonment and provides a comparative and deeply historical inquiry into the place of the prison in our imagination and world views
  • Illustrates the interplay of recurrent tropes and changing historical conditions enabling readers to follow metaphors through the historical development of specific genres and to contrast divergent deployments of the same metaphor in different discourses of the same period



Metaphors of Confinement: The Prison in Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy focuses on a historical survey of our imaginings of the prison as expressed in carceral metaphors that occur in great numbers in texts about imprisonment from Antiquity to the present but are also used to describe many non-penal situations as confining or restrictive. These imaginings are argued to coalesce into a ‘carceral imaginary’ that determines the way we think about prisons, just as social debates about punishment and criminals feed into the way our carceral imaginary develops over time. The book juxtaposes literary and non-literary contexts and contrasts fictional and non-fictional representations of (im)prison(ment) and discussions about the prison as institution and experiential reality. It comments on present-day trends of punitivity and foregrounds the ethical dimensions of penal punishment. The main argument of the book concerns the continuity of carceral metaphors through the centuries despite historical developments that included major shifts in policy (like the invention of the penitentiary). The study looks at selected carceral metaphors, often from two complementary perspectives, such as the home as prison or the prison as home (Chapter 4) or the factory as prison and the prison as factory (Chapter 7). Within chapters, case studies of particularly relevant genres and texts employing these metaphors are presented, often from a historical perspective in which their development through several periods is analysed. The book examines not only English-language prose fiction but also poetry and drama from the Middle Ages to postcolonial, particularly African, literature.