Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.



Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The main argument of this thesis is that the rewriters of the story of the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library, namely journalists and filmmakers, engage differently with primary source material about the detention facility; what they omit and include in their narratives varies and depends largely on their pre-established ideologies. In the field of translation studies, this thesis contributes a new case study; it considers the problematic interplay between law, libraries, and multilingual information access in detention facilities. My research also demonstrates the challenges of examining a library that belongs to a highly controversial military system. In the first chapter I review previous studies of detainee libraries, and I introduce the concepts of rewriting, power, patronage, and ideology. In the second chapter I evaluate how reading material is unevenly distributed across nineteen language groups in the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library. In the third chapter I reflect on the ways in which news articles written by civilian and military journalists about the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library are rooted in disparate ideologies. In the fourth chapter I parse the story of the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library as it is told through the fictitious lens of the film Camp X-Ray (2014). In the fifth and final chapter I summarize the logistical challenges of studying the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library from afar and imagine what future might await its books.

First Advisor

Jim Hicks

Second Advisor

Ilan Stavans

Available for download on Wednesday, September 01, 2021