Porn Studies Issue 1…Academic journal established by Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith launches first issue

Posted: 22 March, 2014 in Research
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porn studies Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith introduce their Porn Studies journal as follows:This journal has been more than two years in its planning, followed by the exciting, though time-intense and anxiety-making, work of bringing together the content for a launch issue. Porn Studies has been a labour of love. Our interests in bringing the journal to fruition were born out of our personal and professional fascinations with the ways in which pornography matters and is discussed. Clearly pornography is a significant topic across a whole range of academic, public and policy domains, and yet the spaces in which it is discussed and debated are not always conducive to the sharing of research and the development of meaningful dialogue. Just as there are specialist journals, conferences, book series and collections enabling consideration of other areas of media and cultural production, so pornography needs a dedicated space for research and debate.

Researching pornography can be particularly complicated and challenging. Newspaper articles examine the proliferations of sexually explicit materials as evidence of changing mores, of other peoples’ weaknesses and excesses; pornography as an industry is characterized as a big business whose sheer size means it ought to be condemned. It (and pornography is almost always characterized as singular) is portrayed as an industry that succeeds by pandering to ever-more extreme interests and one that pulls everything, even the most innocent of people, into its orbit so that anything which hints at sexuality — dress, topographies of body hair, musical tastes, dancing, and so on — is marked by and marks pornography’s influence . With such ‘overhead noise’ about pornography, uncovering the histories and contemporary forms of sexually explicit representation, their production and consumption, their circulation and distribution, their importance and insignificances can be daunting.

Yet it is too easy to focus on the problems of researching pornography, and we also ought to be able to celebrate successes. Research on pornography has found a home in journals and a presence at seminars and conferences across various disciplines. However, as important as these have been, they have not provided the dedicated space that allows for the development of a research tradition and for discussions about the kinds of approaches and methods which will produce good research. We need a dedicated space to explore the complexities and potentials of research into pornography. This is the right time for a journal for porn studies. We need to develop our methods and theories, and to talk about the importance of different technologies, their particular employment as platforms for distribution, and the contributions these make to the kinds of pornographies that are available. We need to be able to engage with and examine the variety of legislative moves against pornography and how those might be tied to concerns about the spread and accessibility of other forms of information, and we need to recognize where regulation is being lessened or loosened and why this is so.

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