Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Heather Russell

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Steven Ryan Blevins

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


biopolitics, prison, norms, Orange is the New Black, Media, TV, Prison reform, Carceral, Solitary Confinement, New Jim Crow

Date of Defense



The purpose of this project is to ascertain the ways in which Orange is the New Black uses its platform to either complicate or reify narratives about the prison system, prisoners and their relationship to the state. This research uses the works of Giorgio Agamben, Colin Dayan, Michelle Alexander and Lisa Guenther to situate the ways the state uses the prison and social narratives about the prison to extend its control on certain populations beyond prison walls through police presence, parole, the war on drugs and prison fees.

From that basis, this work argues that while Orange does challenge some narratives about race and sexuality, because of its reliance on “bad choices” as a humanizing trope and its reliance on certain racialized stereotypes for entertainment, the show ultimately does more to reify existing narratives that support state interests.





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