Place-ing the Prison Officer

The ‘Warder’ in the British Literary and Cultural Imagination


The sadistic prison ‘warder’ is an all-too-familiar figure in the literary and cultural imagination of Britain and beyond. This distorted image continues to be informed by the stereotypically oppressive gaolers of old – trailing the figurative stench of the dungeon behind them. Even today, prison officers can, for instance, function as scapegoats to compensate for society’s guilty conscience or as fictional vehicles to promote prison reform. This book seeks to redress this misrepresentation of the prison officer by drawing attention to counter-discursive examples: deploying and developing spatial and cognitive narratological frameworks, it examines prison literature that lends a voice to prison officers and/or grants them a complex fictional representation. A review of traditional depictions of ‘warders’ in classics of prison literature prepares the ground for the discussion of contemporary prison officer memoirs and the representation of officers in fictional works by Brendan Behan, Allan Guthrie and Louise Dean.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Deconstructing the Stereotype: History and Theoretical Framework 2. The ‘Warder’ Writes Back: Prison Officer Memoirs 3. Voice-ing the Prison Officer Conclusion and Outlook Works Cited Index