American Mass Incarceration and Post-Network Quality Television
American Mass Incarceration and Post-Network Quality Television
Captivating Aspirations
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The Captivating Aspirations of Post-Network Quality Television in the Age of Mass Incarceration: An Introduction
Remediating Mass Incarceration
The Political Economy of Post-Network Television
Our Scheduled Programming

1. Mass (Mediating) Incarceration
Captivity by the Numbers
Invisible Punishments & Revolving Doors
Socialized Precarity & Captive Profits
Punitive Realism & Unruly Spectacles

2. How Does Violent Spectacle Appear as TV Realism? Sources of OZ’s Penal Imaginary
Welcome to OZ
What is TV Realism?
The Prison as Hyper-Real Institution
Looks Like America? Populating the Prison Nation
Haunting Repetitions: Plotting the Prison’s Archive
Bizarre Realism

3. If It’s Not TV, is It Sociology? The Wire
A Surprising Debate
Procedural Anxieties
What is Sociology?
Tele-visualizing the Surveillance Society
Soft Eyes and the Sociological Imaginary
Sociological Ambitions: Reform, Critique, Utopia
Reassembling Mass Incarceration
The Cultural Contradictions of Sociological Aspirations

4. Is Entertainment the New Activism? Orange Is the New Black, Women’s Imprisonment, and the Taste for Prisons
We’re Not in OZ Anymore
Scripting Prison Practices
Foregrounding Backstories through the Penological Carousel
Celebrity and the Politics of Trans-Televisibility
Articulating Communities of Concern
Finding Oneself There: Inmate Receptions
Feedback Loops, Recommendation Engines, and the Taste for Prisons

5. Can Melodrama Redeem American History? Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Queen Sugar
Publicizing Ava DuVernay as Black Feminist Auteur
"The Story Never Changes"?
History: Assembly Required
Homecomings: Melodrama and the State of Innocence
The Black Family in American History
Black Family Melodrama in the Age of Mass Incarceration
The Possibilities and Perils of Popularizing Radical Epistemologies

Conclusion: American Politics and Prison Reform after TV’s Digital Turn


Lee Flamand

American Mass Incarceration and Post-Network Quality Television

Captivating Aspirations

Far more than a building of brick and mortar, the prison relies upon gruesome stories circulated as commercial media to legitimize its institutional reproduction. Perhaps no medium has done more in recent years to both produce and intervene in such stories than television.

This unapologetically interdisciplinary work presents a series of investigations into some of the most influential and innovative treatments of American mass incarceration to hit our screens in recent decades. Looking beyond celebratory accolades, Lee A. Flamand argues that we cannot understand the eagerness of influential programs such as OZ, The Wire, Orange Is the New Black, 13th, and Queen Sugar to integrate the sensibilities of prison ethnography, urban sociology, identity politics activism, and even Black feminist theory into their narrative structures without understanding how such critical postures relate to the cultural aspirations and commercial goals of a quickly evolving TV industry and the most deeply ingrained continuities of American storytelling practices.

Lee Flamand

Lee A. Flamand, PhD is currently a Research Associate at Ruhr University Bochum.