Literature and Criminal Justice in Antebellum America by Carl OstrowskiLiterature and Criminal Justice in Antebellum America by Carl Ostrowski

Literature and Criminal Justice in Antebellum America

byCarl Ostrowski

Hardcover | October 3, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 585 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


The United States set about defining and reforming its criminal justice institutions during the antebellum years, just as an innovative, expanding print culture afforded authors and publishers unprecedented opportunities to reflect on these important social developments. Carl Ostrowski traces the impact of these related historical processes on American literature, identifying a set of culturally resonant narratives that emerged from criminal justice-related discourse to shape the period's national literary expression.

Drawing on an eclectic range of sources including newspaper arrest reports, prison reform periodicals, popular literary magazines, transatlantic travel narratives, popular crime novels, anthologies of prison poetry, and the memoirs of prison chaplains, Ostrowski analyzes how authors as canonical as Nathaniel Hawthorne and as obscure as counterfeiter/poet/prison inmate Christian Meadows adapted, manipulated, or rejected prevailing narratives about criminality to serve their artistic and rhetorical ends. These narratives led to the creation of new literary subgenres while also ushering in psychological interiority as an important criterion by which serious fiction was judged. Ostrowski joins and extends recent scholarly conversations on subjects including African American civic agency, literary sentimentalism, outsider authorship, and the racial politics of antebellum prison reform.
Carl Ostrowski is professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University and author of Books, Maps, and Politics: A Cultural History of the Library of Congress, 1783-1861 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2004).
Title:Literature and Criminal Justice in Antebellum AmericaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:234 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:October 3, 2016Publisher:University of Massachusetts PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1625342373

ISBN - 13:9781625342379


Editorial Reviews

"This book is thoughtful, often insightful, and brings useful attention to little known or undervalued antebellum texts, relating to various aspects of the American criminal justice system and the experience of incarceration and release." - Laura Korobkin, author of Criminal Conversations: Sentimentality and Nineteenth-Century Legal Stories of Adultery