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In the heart of the beast: Masculinity and fatherhood on the inside

Anna M Curtis, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Drawing on two and a half years of participant observation (n=280 hours) and extended life history interviews with incarcerated fathers (n=49), this dissertation examines the relationship between masculinity, fatherhood, and the organization of the prison system. This dissertation examines the ways assumptions and practices centered in the dangerous masculinity of prisoners draw on larger historical and cultural patterns to reinforce the ways that the prison system contributes to the social control project of the criminal justice system as a whole. In particular, I focus on the raced and classed underpinnings of dangerous masculinity of the prisoner. This dissertation also considers the ways incarcerated men struggle to balance their understandings of masculinity and fatherhood within the confines of the prison. Focusing on incarcerated men’s understanding of the ways manhood and fatherhood support and undermine one another as a set of practices within prison contributes both to research in prisons and also to the larger conversation about masculinity and fatherhood.

Subject Area

Criminology|Organizational behavior|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Curtis, Anna M, "In the heart of the beast: Masculinity and fatherhood on the inside" (2012). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3545914.