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“Criticism, Ethics, and the Problem of Rehabilitation”

Neill, Anna
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Law, Culture and the Humanities. 2: 284- 300.

This essay will argue that the carceral literature classroom is at odds with the rehabilitative principles that have brought it into being. Teaching literature and
criticism behind bars highlights the difference between a normalizing rationality implemented through institutions of correction and the concept of an ethical selffashioning
that enables human beings to think and act in ways not determined purely by the force of their passions. While literature classes provide a context for
a rich ethical engagement with the self and the social world it encounters, and in this respect seem to adhere to the moral aims and principles of correctional education, the kind of human potential that criticism claims to emancipate
couldn’t be more different from that imagined in the discourse of rehabilitation and reform. (author’s abstract).


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