International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography, 1800-2000

International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography, 1800-2000

International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography, 1800-2000

International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography, 1800-2000

Synopsis

International Exposure demonstrates the wealth of desires woven into the fabric of European history: desires about empire and nation, about self and other, about plenty and dearth. By documenting the diverse meanings of pornography, senior scholars from across disciplines show the ways that sexuality became central to the individual, to the nation, and to the transnational character of modern society. The ten essays in the volume engage a rich array of topics, including obscenity in the German states, censorship in France's Third Republic, "she-male" internet porn, the rise of incestuous longings in England, the place of the Hungarian video revolution in the global market, and the politics of pornography in Russia. Taken together, the essays illustrate the latest approaches to content, readership, form, and delivery in modern European pornography. A substantial discussion of the broad history and state of the field complements the ten in-depth case studies that examine a wide range of sources from literature to magazines, video to the internet. By tackling the highbrow and lowdown of the pornographic form, this volume lays the groundwork for the next surge of studies in the field.

Excerpt

Like it or not, many of us come across pornography on a regular basis: naughty pictures wink from the seaside postcard rack, dirty magazines beckon from behind the convenience store counter, and scrambled images moan over cable T V. Full-length pornographic films can be ordered by mail, picked up in video stores, or downloaded over personal computers. One paradoxical effect of this saturation is that many people have come to ignore it altogether: to make a bad play on words, pornography is overexposed. Although cultural crises around sexuality and child pornography panics awaken the issue periodically, relatively few people spend their lives thinking about pornography. Consumers use it, but its production lies outside of public purview. Dirty literature, nude photography, and blue film production form the basis of their own industries but ones rarely highlighted in business school casebooks, the tabloid press, or the pages of the Wall Street Journal. In Western culture pornography's ubiquity is relatively new; the lack of state intervention is a product of contemporary society. Indeed, most previous work in the field of pornography has charted the history of legalization as a First Amendment or free speech issue in an extensive body of legal and activist works. While this volume necessarily touches on the processes of legalization, it is more concerned with the cultural impact of pornography, whether legal or not. For, if legal sanctions no longer apply to most pornography, if consumers use it as a matter of course, if an industry has emerged to meet that need, and if the general public has become so inured to pornography as to render it invisible, then why should scholars concern themselves with it?

One answer may be that academics engage the world of pornography to fulfill a basic function of scholarship: to provide a reservoir of information on a topic. If academics want to help answer those questions that the public periodically asks about sexuality and about pornography as a cultural form, then there is a need to study pornography. The emblematic "girlie magazine," for example, is a relatively . . .

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