Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

7/1/2012 - 6/30/2013

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

The Prison as a Site of Literary Community and Writing in Early Modern England

FAIN: FA-56957-12

Mary Pollard Murray
Columbia University (New York, NY 10027-7922)

I am seeking support to complete a book manuscript that explores the prison as a site for literary production, and as an engine of literary invention, in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. The prison, I argue, was an increasingly central institution in the cultural landscape of the period, and as such provided a crucible of communities (as prisons could house a mix of religious dissenters, political dissidents, debtors, traitors, noblemen and criminals). I argue further that this carceral scene, in all its porousness and variety, stood alongside the court, country house, church, and university as a place where early modern culture was made--and often made in order to define and redefine the idea of community itself. In five chapters, arranged roughly chronologically from the dawn of Tudor autocracy to the eve of the 1679 Habeas Corpus Act, I present various communities imagined in the literature produced within--and sometimes across--prison walls.