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New ‘Porn Studies’ academic journal to debut next spring

By The Guardian
Thursday, May 2, 2013 13:11 EDT
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By John Dugdale, The Guardian

First peer-reviewed journal invites experts to contribute in time for spring debut

Porn Studies needs your contributions. The Routledge academic periodical will debut next spring, and a call for papers appeared this week soliciting submissions for “the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic”. Two dons, Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith, are the editors.

The timing suggests the EL James phenomenon may have provided the impetus for the launch by making erotica ubiquitous; but literary porn is only one of the interests of the top-shelf journal, which is open to offerings from sociologists, criminologists, technologists and experts in cultural, media and gender studies.

In acknowledging that “pornography studies are still in their infancy”, the editors implicitly criticise cultural studies, which clearly should have initiated scholarly investigation of porn long ago. This failure may have reflected the sometimes furious contemporary debate within second-wave feminism, between those viewing pornography as liberating (Angela Carter’s The Sadeian Woman) and opponents (Kate Millett, Andrea Dworkin) who saw it as epitomising and reinforcing phallocratic oppression.

Forty years on, Porn Studies (bound to be shortened by students to Porn Studs) will enter a not dissimilar cultural landscape, with renewed feminist anger coinciding with porn once again often becoming headline news; this time not as a result of censorship receding, but due to the internet making it readily available.

Its editors, though, evidently won’t be inhibited by 70s ambivalence; Smith signalled their Carterian approach last week by proposing the motion “pornography is good for us” in an Intelligence Squared debate, with Germaine Greer among those opposing it. Their periodical is bound to shake up academic life from the outset, giving an automatic get-out (“I’m researching/peer-reviewing an article”) to anyone caught viewing dodgy material on their laptop; and once the dedicated journal becomes established, surely a dedicated porn department somewhere must follow?

© Guardian News and Media 2013

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