Porn Studies

Porn Studies
Book Pages: 528 Illustrations: 46 b&w photos Published: July 2004

Subjects
Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Sex and Sexuality, Media Studies > Film

In her pioneering book Hard Core, Linda Williams put moving-image pornography on the map of contemporary scholarship with her analysis of the most popular and enduring of all film and video genres. Now, fifteen years later, she showcases the next generation of critical thinking about pornography and signals new directions for study and teaching. Porn Studies resists the tendency to situate pornography as the outer limit of what can be studied and discussed. With revenues totaling between ten and fourteen billion dollars annually—more than the combined revenues of professional football, basketball, and baseball—visual, hard-core pornography is a central feature of American popular culture. It is time, Williams contends, for scholars to recognize this and give pornography a serious and extended analysis.

The essays in this volume move beyond feminist debates and distinctions between a “good” erotica and a “bad” hard core. Contributors examine varieties of pornography from the tradition of the soft-core pin-up through the contemporary hard-core tradition of straight, gay, and lesbian videos and dvds to the burgeoning phenomenon of pornography on the Internet. They explore, as examples of the genre, individual works as divergent as The Starr Report, the pirated Tommy Lee/Pamela Anderson honeymoon video, and explicit Japanese “ladies’ comics” consumed by women. They also probe difficult issues such as the sexualization of race and class and the relationship of pornography to the avant-garde. To take pornography seriously as an object of analysis also means teaching it. Porn Studies thus includes a useful annotated bibliography of readings and archival sources important to the study of pornography as a cultural form.

Contributors. Heather Butler, Rich Cante, Jake Gerli, Minette Hillyer, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Despina Kakoudaki, Franklin Melendez, Ara Osterweil, Zabet Patterson, Constance Penley, Angelo Restivo, Eric Schaefer, Michael Sicinski, Deborah Shamoon, Maria St. John, Tom Waugh, Linda Williams

Praise

“[A] book that fearlessly engages the mostly hesitant academic discourse on sex with a much-needed frankness.... Williams’ collection is ... thoughtful, readable, and important. Above and beyond the pornographic ob/scenity it offers, Porn Studies permits tantalizing views of discursive possibilities in an academy that for now inevitably seems to gravitate towards the reassuring safety of theory in discussions of pornography, sex, and sexuality.” — Maude M. Adjarian , Archives of Sexual Behaviour

“Although Williams's book takes no sides in the cultural debates about whether pornography itself is good, bad, or indifferent, she makes a compelling argument for why it ought to be taught, understood, and analyzed to avoid simplistic misrepresentations. . . . Williams's book provides a toolkit for understanding the narratives, images, and effects of the pornographic culture in which we live.” — Elizabeth Birmingham , NWSA Journal

“Pornography as a thing to study has frequently been prudishly pushed aside. Linda Williams’ new book, Porn Studies, announces the arrival of serious work that should prove the topic’s insistence on sticking around.” — Judy Margo , Culture Health and Sexuality

“The entire collection constitutes an excellent sampling of how pornographies are to be analyzed once we move beyond traditional debates of censorship, ethics, and what one could now consider ‘traditional’ feminism. . . . Such a collection offers a welcome contribution in the serious academic and intellectual understanding of a robust and worthy subject matter.” — Mark Dietrich Tschaepe , Metapsychology Online Review

"Porn Studies is a valuable read for anyone wanting a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of where society has come from, where it is now, and the possibilities of where it will go." — Lee Winston , M/C Reviews

"Porn Studies makes an important new step in the new discourse on the subject, since the collection considers pornography not just, as did Hard Core, a cinematographic genre, but as cultural practice. . . . [I]t is the intertwining of historical background information and visual close reading that makes the strength of contributions. . . ." — Jan Baetens, Image and Narrative

"[S]mart, readable, and provocative essays. . . . Williams's anthology illuminates images that most of us simply take for granted only as ways to get turned-on and get-off." — Michael Bronski, The Guide

"[W]ith Porn Studies, Williams and her contributors have opened a door-they've made it possible for intelligent people to discuss porn in more or less polite company. This accomplishment alone is worth celebrating. I look forward to what comes next in the field." — Annalee Newitz , Cineaste

"One of the collection's many strengths is the combination of breadth of scope and depth of analysis in its 17 chapters. . . . Porn Studies is an entertaining and extremely useful book for researchers and students in screen studies, gender studies, sociology and media and cultural studies." — Kath Albury, Media International Australia

"Over the course of many years, many seminar courses, Linda Williams has specialized in this domain that the classic university disciplines have long ostracized. The balance of [her] studies were published a few months ago under the title Porn Studies, certainly the most passionate collection of essays and analysis that has ever been assembled on this burning question." (Translated from the French) — Olivier Seguret , Liberation

"Pretty much every aspect of porn is discussed—except 19th-century naughty postcards—up to and including the Internet. No time is wasted on whether there is 'good' erotica and 'bad' porn. Williams' bold thesis is that porn exists, has value, and deserves to be both studied and taught." — Richard Labonte, Books to Watch out For

"The anthology's 16 essays . . . deliciously, disturbingly blur the traditionally solid line between the intellectual and the sexual, and that's part of the point. . . . These essays courageously suggest that there is great pleasure in exploring the spaces between polemics and sensationalism." — Maria Elena Buszek, Bust

"The tone is sensible, even as some wonderfully sensational material is covered. . . . There are also some excellent histories here. . . . The book will certainly help 'the teacher and student of pornography roll up their sleeves to begin work in this field', mitigating porn's image as mainstream culture's guilty secret" — Linda Ruth Williams, Sight and Sound

"This collection of very accessible and fascinating essays links pornography to the avant-garde and modern sex scandals, tracing its roots from early stag films and making a connection between war machinery and the pinup girls of WWII." — Ms. Magazine

“For more than a decade now, Linda Williams has been taking porn seriously. Her latest—Porn Studies—does not disappoint. She succeeds, once again, in legitimizing porn as an essential topic for academic study and provides a guide for teaching about it. For all those who want to know more about the place of porn in American culture, this is refreshingly unabashed scholarship.”
  — Susie Bright, author of Mommy's Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn, and Cherry Pie


“Thank God for Linda Williams! She is absolutely brilliant. I have learned an enormous amount from her over the years. She boldly goes where few academics dare. Porn Studies is a smart, much needed, fascinating book, which paves the way and sets the tone for future porn studies. This book boggles and blows my mind.” — Annie Sprinkle, postmodern pornographer and sexologist


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Price: $32.95
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Linda Williams is Professor of Film Studies and Rhetoric and Director of the Program in Film Studies and of the Center for New Media at the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O. J. Simpson; Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible”; and Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing Film.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Porn Studies: Proliferating Pornographies On/Scene: An Introduction / Linda Williams 1

Part I. Contemporary Pornographies

How to Do Things with the Starr Report: Pornography, Performance, and the President’s Penis / Maria St. John 27

Sex in the Suburban: Porn, Home Movies, and the Live Action Performance of Love in Pam and Tommy Lee: Hardcore and Uncensored / Minette Hillyer 50

Office Sluts and Rebel Flowers: The Pleasures of Japanese Pornographic Comics for Women / Deborah Shamoon 77

Going On-line: Consuming Pornography in the Digital Era / Zabet Patterson 104

Part 2. Gay, Lesbian, and Homosocial Pornographies

Homosociality i the Classical American Stag Film: Off-Screen, On-Screen / Thomas Waugh 127

The Cultural-Aesthetic Specificities of All-male Moving-Image Poronography / Rich Cante and Angelo Restivo 142

What Do You Call a Lesbian with Long Fingers? The Development of Lesbian and Dyke Pornography / Heather Butler 167

The Gay Sex Clerk: Chuck Vincent’s Straight Pornography / Jake Gerli 198

Part 3. Pornography, Race, and Class

The Resurrection of Brandon Lee: The Making of a Gay Asian American Porn Star / Nguyen Tan Hoang 223

Skin Flicks on the Racial Border: Pornography, Exploitation, and Interracial Lust / Linda Williams 271

Crackers and Whackers: The White Trashing of Porn / Constance Penley 309

Part 4. Soft Core, Hard Core, and the Pornographic Sublime

Pinup: The American Secret Weapon in World War II / Despina Kakoudaki 335

Gauging a Revolution: 16 mm Film and the Rise of the Pornographic Feature / Eric Shaefer 370

Video Pornography, Visual Pleasure, and the Return of the Sublime / Franklin Melendez 401

Part 5. Pornography and/as Avant-Garde

Andy Warhol’s Blow Job: Toward a Recognition of a Pornographic Avant-garde / Ara Osterweil, 431

Unbracketing Motion Study: Scott Stark’s NOEMA / Michael Sicinski 461

Suggested Reading: An Annotated Bibliography 479

Pornographic Film and Video: A Select List of Archives and Commercial Sites 491

List of Contributors 495

Index 497
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper: 978-0-8223-3312-8 / Cloth: 978-0-8223-3300-5
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