Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




A critique of the notion that both prisons and prison literature are monolithic entities, this dissertation demonstrates the shaping power of individual historical moment and physical conditions of confinement upon the literary production of political incarceration in the North of Ireland. Though the writings of political prisoners like Gerry Adams, Roseleen Walsh, and Bobby Sands are separated only by a matter of a few years, the marked difference in their works is testament to the impact of place and individual prison regime upon each author. The material is approached in an eclectic fashion, with attention paid to the Hegelian dialectic observable in the writings as well as to motifs reminiscent of Native American trickster stories. Because it is produced within a special matrix— at once removed from the bounds of everyday society, yet also within the undiluted heart of that society as replicated in its disciplinary structure— prison writing by its very nature is able to cast light upon subjects quite external to the physical prison cell, subjects that may be invisible to those outside.