Garden spaces have long occupied imaginations as sites and sources of self-narrative at the same time as they have served as historical spaces of criminal rehabilitation. However, representations of gardens that bridge these apparently binary conceptions of agency and coercion are scarce. This article examines the correlation between gardens, the law, and self-narrative that runs throughout Sylvaine Dampierre's 1999 documentary Un Enclos in the aim of broadening how women's self-narrative can be understood. It argues that the juridical framework that shapes the socio-historical contexts of the garden in the Rennes women penitentiary in Un Enclos also determines the forms of self-narrative that occur in this space. This article thus reads the garden space of the prison through the lens of feminist approaches to self- and women's prison narratives, and through Foucault's formulation of disciplinary power. This garden space, far from representing a simple metaphor of renewal, should be recognized instead as a manifestation of power that mirrors the social and historical constraints that delimit subjectivity. From this perspective, the semiotics of gardens provide a valuable map for navigating the complicated landscape of self-narrative.


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pp. 349-364
Launched on MUSE
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