In this Book

Demands of the Dead
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The first work to combine literary criticism with other forms of death penalty–abolitionist writing, Demands of the Dead demonstrates the active importance of literature and literary criticism to the struggle for greater justice in the United States. Gathering personal essays, scholarly articles, and creative writings on the death penalty in American culture, this striking collection brings human voices and literary perspectives to a subject that is often overburdened by statistics and angry polemics. Contributors include death-row prisoners, playwrights, poets, activists, and literary scholars.

Highlighting collaborations between writers inside and outside prison, all within the context of the history of state killing laws and foundational concepts that perpetuate a culture of violent death, Demands of the Dead opens with a pamphlet dictated by Willie Francis, a teenager who survived a first execution attempt in Louisiana’s electric chair before he was subsequently killed by the state in 1947.

Writers are a conspicuous part of U.S. death-penalty history, composing a vibrant literary record of resistance to state killing. This multigenre collection both recalls and contributes to this tradition through discussions of such writers as Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Gertrude Atherton, Ernest Gaines, Sonia Sanchez, Kia Corthron, and Sherman Alexie. A major contribution to literary studies and American prison studies, Demands of the Dead asserts the relevance of storytelling to ethical questions and matters of public policy.

 
Contributors
Sherman Alexie
John Cyril Barton
Steve Champion
Kia Corthron
Thomas Dutoit
Willie Francis
H. Bruce Franklin
Tom Kerr
David Kieran
Jennifer Leigh Lieberman
Jill McDonough
Anthony Ross
Katy Ryan
Elizabeth Ann Stein
Rick Stetter
Matthew Stratton
Jason Stupp
Delbert Tibbs

 

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. c-ii
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. iii-vii
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. viii-x
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  1. Acknowledgments and Permissions
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Introduction
  2. Katy Ryan
  3. pp. 1-30
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  1. Part 1: Words through Walls
  2. pp. 31-32
  1. My Trip to the Chair
  2. Willie Francis
  3. pp. 33-44
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  1. Living Death: Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson before Dying and the Execution of Willie Francis
  2. Jason Stupp
  3. pp. 45-58
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  1. The Sword into a Pen
  2. Steve Champion
  3. pp. 59-73
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  1. Writing with the Condemned: On Editing and Publishing the Work of Steve Champion
  2. Tom Kerr
  3. pp. 74-88
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  1. Leaving Death Row: A Screenplay
  2. Elizabeth Ann Stein
  3. pp. 89-96
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  1. Dead Man’s Soap
  2. Rick Stetter
  3. pp. 97-110
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  1. Part 2: History and State Power
  2. pp. 111-112
  1. Billy Budd and Capital Punishment: A Tale of Four Centuries
  2. H. Bruce Franklin
  3. pp. 113-134
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  1. December 26, 1862 Chaska
  2. Jill McDonough
  3. pp. 135-135
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  1. August 23, 1927 Nicola Sacco
  2. Jill McDonough
  3. pp. 136-136
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  1. May 3, 1946 Willie Francis
  2. Jill McDonough
  3. pp. 137-137
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  1. October 9, 2002 Aileen Wuornos
  2. Jill McDonough
  3. pp. 138-138
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  1. Antigallows Activism in Antebellum American Literature
  2. John Cyril Barton
  3. pp. 139-161
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  1. Electric Sensations and Executions in Gertrude Atherton’s Patience Sparhawk and Her Times
  2. Jennifer Leigh Lieberman
  3. pp. 162-180
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  1. Life by Asphyxiation
  2. Kia Corthron
  3. pp. 181-214
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  1. Routines
  2. Anthony Ross
  3. pp. 215-218
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  1. Part 3: Voices and Bodies in Resistance
  2. pp. 219-220
  1. Jacques Derrida on Pain of Death
  2. Thomas Dutoit
  3. pp. 221-234
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  1. Capital Punishment
  2. Sherman Alexie
  3. pp. 235-238
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  1. Lynching, Embodiment, and Post-1960 African American Poetry
  2. David Kieran
  3. pp. 239-254
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  1. State Killing, the Stage of Innocence, and The Exonerated
  2. Katy Ryan
  3. pp. 255-272
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  1. Rap Sheet of Capitol Crimes: Music, Murder, and Aesthetic States of Terror
  2. Matthew Stratton
  3. pp. 273-294
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  1. A Poem for No Reason
  2. Delbert L. Tibbs
  3. pp. 295-295
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  1. For Gary Graham, a.k.a. Shaka Sankofa
  2. Delbert L. Tibbs
  3. pp. 296-296
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  1. Death Law
  2. Delbert L. Tibbs
  3. pp. 297-298
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  1. I Need a Poem
  2. Delbert L. Tibbs
  3. pp. 299-300
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. 301-304
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  1. Selected Bibliography
  2. pp. 305-312
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 313-315
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  1. Back Cover
  2. pp. 316-316
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