CFP: Just Sentences: Literary Journalism Goes Inside Prison 

Call for Papers
Sept. 5, 2021

Prison has been written about – both inside and outside prison walls – since time immemorial. Yet writing about prison is rarely considered in academic studies of media history. This new text aims to fill that gap with a collection of papers by international scholars. It will draw from an eclectic range of disciplines including media history, international literary journalism, media content analysis, and cultural studies.

David Swick, one of the editors, is to write on ‘Escape into Words – The Literary Journalism of Wilbert Rideau’. Richard Lance Keeble, the other editor, is to write on ‘George Orwell: Seeing the Other Side’.

Other chapters may focus on:

  • Jonny Steinberg’s work on prison gangs in South Africa
    • Applying trauma ethics in writing about prison
  • What was lost (and gained) when Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison was made into a Netflix series
    • The power and challenges of inmate-authored prison newspapers
  • A beautiful cacophony: Behrouz Boochani’s 2018 prison narrative No Friend but the Mountains 
  • Truth and controversy in the prison scenes in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood
  • Insights arising in the Education Justice Project (or other prison writing programs)
  • Desperation and hope in Yuan Ling’s writing on China’s Qincheng Prison 
  • The evolution of Newjack author Ted Conover’s perspective during his year as a maximum-security corrections officer 
  • How mental illness is depicted in stories about prison
  • Pride and remorse in the work of current New York state inmate (and U.S. National Magazine Award finalist) John J. Lennon
  • Intimacy and pain in Justine van der Leun’s project of giving voice to women in prison
  • Charles Dickens’ heartfelt reporting on incarceration in the U.S.
  • John Stanley James’ 1870s reporting from inside an Australian gaol 

These subjects are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They merely indicate a possible range of topics that might appear in the text. There are clearly many other equally important routes to travel down. In particular, contributions from scholars in India, Australia, Africa, and South America are invited.

Abstracts of 200 words are invited – by Nov. 8, 2021. Please send to David Swick and .

Final chapters of up to 7,000 words will be due by February 1, 2022. Publishers are being approached, with publication planned for late 2022.

The editors 

David Swick is a journalism professor at the oldest chartered university in Canada, the University of King’s College. An award- and fellowship-winning newspaper columnist and radio documentarian, he joined the university full-time in 2010. He has created three King’s courses, including a course in applied journalism ethics, and now teaches writing courses in the MJ, BJH, BJ programs. His journalism includes more than 1,700 opinion articles, dozens of magazine articles, several television documentaries, and one nonfiction book. He is also the co-editor of two international anthologies of literary journalism and humour.

Richard Lance Keeble is Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln and Honorary Professor at Liverpool Hope University. He has written and edited 43 books on a wide range of media-related subjects including literary journalism, practical newspaper reporting skills, communication ethics, George Orwell, peace journalism, the coverage of US/UK militarism and the secret state, investigative journalism, the Hackgate controversy and digital journalism. He gained a National Teaching Fellowship in 2011 – the highest award for teachers in higher education in the UK – and in June 2014 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Journalism Education. He is joint editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics and George Orwell Studies


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