Milestone academic book assesses the role of pornography in modern life.

Posted on 16th September 2018

The often contentious subject of pornography is explored in a new book, which seeks to contribute to the ever developing academic debate on this topic.

Recent titles in the Issues in the Social Sciences series
Recent titles in the Issues in the Social Sciences series

Pornographies: Critical Positions is the 11th volume in the Issues in the Social Sciences (ISS) series from the University of Chester Press.

This is the first scholarly investigation of pornography intended to be accessible to undergraduates (as well as more advanced scholars) in book form for over 10 years. The publication constitutes an important opportunity to explore an area that is already well established territory for Social Sciences researchers, but less established in undergraduate teaching.

Pornographies The book is also a milestone in academic writings on this topic, as it marks the shift towards studying pornography beyond the idea that it is simply a manifestation of dangerous patriarchal oppression and provides valuable insights into contemporary culture and politics, and our ideas about gender, sexuality and bodies.

While remaining cognisant of the potential pitfalls and dangers of studying pornography, the volume embraces the new openness and diversity of perspective in assessing pornographies. The book creates a space in which specific pornographic texts, production, performers, histories and genres are scrutinised as undeniably significant aspects of 21st-century society.

The volume has been edited by Dr Katherine Harrison, Senior Lecturer in Media at Leeds Beckett University; and Dr Cassandra Ogden, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Liverpool John Moores University.

The publication began life as an academic conference organised by Sociology students at the University of Chester. Some of the external speakers from the event (Dr Christian Klesse from the University of Manchester and Professor Feona Attwood from Middlesex University) contributed their work at the conference for publication in this book; others responded to an international call for papers released by the Editors.

Dr Katherine Harrison said: “Pornography is no longer considered to be a single, homogenous ‘thing’. Nor are debates about pornography limited to the reductive anti-porn versus anti-censorship controversies of the mid-20th century. Whether we like it or not, porn is a major part of global culture, economy and society and - if only by that virtue alone - deserves to be studied seriously. The Internet is ubiquitous in our everyday lives and its significances and effects are widely studied on Social Sciences degrees. However, one of the major uses of the Internet is the production, dissemination and consumption of pornography and this is rarely studied directly at undergraduate level. The book aims to address this omission by making the academic study of pornography accessible to readers at all levels. It is worth noting that one of the contributors, Professor Feona Attwood, is Founding Editor of Routledge's international journal Porn Studies, the pre-eminent publication for porn research and scholarship in the world.”

Dr Cassie Ogden added: “This book contains some really engaging contributions from both established and early-career academics across the world. The authors come from a range of disciplines, which highlights the diversity and scope of porn studies and illustrates the intellectual value in studying pornography in areas such as feminism, sexualities, bodies, disabilities and performance art. The volume engages with new and niche forms of pornography with relevance to contemporary culture. It includes chapters relating to porn histories, porn in different cultures, porn's migration into mainstream popular culture and porn's role in politics, sexuality, understandings of the body, biomedicine and more. Myself and co-editor Dr Katherine Harrison really enjoyed working on this publication and hope that others will enjoy reading it.”

This collection is the 11th in the Issues in Social Science book series, published by the University of Chester Press. For further information, see https://www1.chester.ac.uk/social-and-political-science/research/book-series.