Linda Williams – Porn Studies (2004)

In “Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible”, Linda Williams put moving-image pornography on the map of contemporary scholarship with her path-breaking 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. It moves beyond futile feminist debates and distinctions between a ‘good’ erotica and a ‘bad’ hard core. With revenues totalling between ten and fourteen billion dollars annually – more than the combined revenues of professional American football, basketball, and baseball – this volume acknowledges that visual, hard-core pornography has emphatically arrived as 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 “Porn Studies” exemplify this effort. The 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. Continue reading