Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.789783
Title: Fashioning freedom : British prison fictions, 1718-1780
Author: Powell, L. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 0106
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Abstract:
This thesis explores the form and function of representations of the prison in the prose literature of the British eighteenth century. It demonstrates the prevalence of incarceration across a wide range of British novels, and argues that imprisonment speaks to the novel's core concerns as an emergent genre: its persistent engagement with themes of rebellion and resistance, constriction and freedom, and concepts of identity. I argue that our understanding of eighteenth-century prison experience has been overly determined by readings of the nineteenth-century penitentiary, both in literary criticism and much historical analysis. Aiming to rectify this, I contextualize eighteenth-century, fictional representations of the prison amid renderings of the prison in other discourses: legal and reformist, biographical and artistic. The thesis is structured around four, legally and culturally distinct forms of eighteenth-century prison: the criminal prison; the debtors' prison; the bridewell; and the state prison. I establish divergences and connections between these types of prison, and examine the areas of cultural contestation they illuminate. My aim is to better understand the articulation of imprisonment in eighteenth-century fiction, and to offer an argument about the place of the novel in wider cultural discourse. The period I cover is from 1718 and the Transportation Act, to 1780 and the Gordon Riots. These riots, sacking London's oldest prison, the Clink, its foremost felon's prison, Newgate, and its largest prison, the King's Bench, demonstrate the prison's fomenting locus as a site for the expression of public discontent, nine years before the scaling of the Bastille. Occurring in the aftermath of the Penitentiary Act of 1779, in which British prisons were legally remodelled as instruments of state-sanctioned penality, I argue that the sacked gaols ushered in a new era of prison design, and that fictional expressions of incarceration subsequently altered in character.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.789783  DOI: Not available
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