Since Edison Studio's 1901 film, Execution of Czolgosz with Panorama of Auburn Prison, the camera has been drawn to the spectacles, horrors, injustices and conditions of imprisoned life. In this course we will spend the first session looking broadly at carceral themes in American cinema, and consider their connections to real facilities where over 2 million people are held captive every day. During the second session we will consider the reception of cinema inside the prison.
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Ian Alexander studies media technologies and their deployment in US prisons over the past century. In Spring 2022 he will complete his PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU. His dissertation, "The Carceral Media Regime", tracks historical trends through multiple media technologies, from radio to tablets, to demystify their political functions: repression for prisons and liberation for prisoners.