Carceral Matrix: Black Women’s Writing in Response to Mass Incarceration, 1963-2017


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




“Carceral Matrix” reveals how black women writers since the 1960s have provided complex aesthetic models for exploring incarceration and confinement—models that attend to the intersecting components of race, class, and gender—through black female characters whose futures depend on their converging struggles for freedom of expression and reproductive autonomy. This study examines how the works of Gayl Jones, Alice Walker, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Eve Ewing interrogate the expressive and social dynamics that have historically configured black women’s bodies and reproductive autonomy as contested sites of control in regard to personhood, property, and labor. Merging critical prison and literary studies, this dissertation broadens our understandings of what can be read as confinement and understood as confinement literature within an era of mass incarceration.