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Writing Reality Under the Guard of Correction

May 1, 2008 | CUNY Graduate Center | New York City

With Jennifer Egan, Asli Erdogan, Chenjerai Hove, and Barbara Parsons; moderated by Jackson Taylor

Discussed: writing in and about prisons; the loss of the privacy; prison as a place, metaphor, and mindset; exile and addiction as forms of imprisonment; fear of freedom; food and color deprivation; gardening with a spork; prison codes, guards, and jargon; the relationship of environment and identity; and writing as therapy.

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Cosponsored by the Martin E. Segal Theater Center, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Prison forces people to conform to a new sense of what is public and what is private: solitary confinement and 24-hour surveillance, overcrowded facilities and individual cells, cacophonous noise and artificial light beyond the individual’s control. This panel will explore how writing can help form a psychological bridge between the public and the private self, what adaptations the private self must make in prison, the usefulness of writing in relieving those deforming pressures, and the availability, experience, purpose, and methods of writing instruction.

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