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Ever since Michel Foucault's highly regarded work on prisons and confinement in the 1970s, critical examination of the forerunners to the prison - slavery, serfdom, and colonial confinements - has been rare. However, these institutions inform and participate in many of the same ideologies that the prison enforces.
Captivating Subjects is a collection of essays that fills several crucial gaps in the critical examination of the relations between Western state-sanctioned confinement, identity, nation, and literature. Editors Jason Haslam and Julia M. Wright have brought together an esteemed group of international scholars to examine nineteenth-century writings by prisoners, slaves, and other captives, tracing some of the continuities among the varieties of captivity and their crucial relationship to post-Enlightenment subjectivities.
This volume is the first sustained examination of the ways in which the diverse kinds of confinement intersect with Western ideologies of subjectivity, investigating the modern nation-state's reliance on captivity as a means of consolidating notions of individual and national sovereignty. It details the specific historical and cultural practices of confinement and their relations to each other and to punishment through a range of national contexts.