Re: Fwd: Professors seek meaning behind flourishing market

From: Philip Jonkers (P.A.E.Jonkers@phys.rug.nl)
Date: Mon Aug 20 2001 - 17:09:36 BST

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    Subject: Re: Fwd: Professors seek meaning behind flourishing market
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    Quoting "Wade T.Smith" <wade_smith@harvard.edu>:

    > I suppose the bonobos just do it, we read about it....
    >
    > Then again, being an academic sometimes does mean you get to use that
    > stuff you once hid inside the chemistry book.
    >
    > - Wade
    >
    > **********
    >
    > Porn is hot course on campus
    >
    > Professors seek meaning behind flourishing market
    >
    > By David Abel, Globe Staff, 8/20/2001
    >
    > http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/232/nation/Porn_is_hot_course_on_campusP.
    > shtml
    >
    > Richard Burt, an English professor at the University of Massachusetts at
    >
    > Amherst and host of a provocative Web site, teaches his students about
    >
    > the modern adaptations of Shakespeare, often focusing on a growing
    > number
    > of porn flicks invoking the Bard.
    >
    > For the past five years, Henry Jenkins, a Massachusetts Institute of
    > Technology professor, has asked his class to analyze photos from Hustler
    >
    > magazine and clips from blue movies such as ''Deep Throat.''
    >
    > And Hope Weissman, a women's studies professor at Wesleyan University,
    >
    > has required students in her class, ''Pornography: Writing of
    > Prostitutes,'' to produce a work of pornography for their final
    > project.
    >
    > The three professors are part of a growing movement on college campuses
    >
    > that is testing the bounds of academic freedom by introducing
    > pornography
    > into the classroom. The small but thriving community of professors
    > treats
    > pornography - an industry on which Americans each year spend billions of
    >
    > dollars - as a serious subject for academic inquiry.
    >
    > Many of the professors shun attention. But others who have written
    > extensively about pornography and teach it in their classes eagerly
    > explain why they are attracted to porn studies.
    >
    > ''To not study pornography is to ignore an absolutely pervasive
    > phenomenon in our culture,'' said Linda Williams, a film studies
    > professor at the University of California in Berkeley who helped pioneer
    >
    > porn studies with her book, ''Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the Frenzy
    >
    > of the Visible.''
    >
    > ''Hollywood makes about 400 films a year; the porn industry makes 9,000
    >
    > to 11,000 titles. That means an enormous number of people across the
    > board are watching pornography. It's not just dirty old men.''
    >
    > Courses on pornography are now offered at schools such as Emerson
    > College, New York University, Northwestern University, Arizona State
    > University, and several campuses in the University of California system.
    >
    > Professors invite porn stars to lecture about subjects such as improving
    >
    > the working conditions of sex workers.
    >
    > The scholarship is growing, too, professors say. Respected journals such
    >
    > as The Quarterly Review of Film Studies and Human Sexuality are
    > publishing more and more papers on pornography. And academics are
    > increasingly writing books with titles such as ''Erotic Faculties'' by
    > an
    > art historian at the University of Nevada at Reno and ''Porn 101'' by a
    >
    > sociology professor at the University of California at Northridge.
    >
    > There was even an academic forum organized in Los Angeles called the
    > World Pornography Conference, which in 1998 drew professors in fields
    > including sociology, philosophy, English, and film studies.
    >
    > Many such as Constance Penley, a film studies professor who runs UC
    > Santa
    > Barbara's Pornography Research Focus Group, attended to spread
    > understanding of their work. But some also went to rebut critics such as
    >
    > Catherine MacKinnon, a University of Michigan Law School professor who
    >
    > argues that pornography exploits women and desensitizes men to sexual
    > violence, and Pat Robertson, who once called Penley's class on
    > pornography ''a new low in humanist excess.''
    >
    > ''There have been many protests, but pornography has been taught for
    > years, in medical schools, psychology and sociology departments,'' said
    >
    > Penley.
    >
    > ''What upset people, in my case, is that I study pornography to see what
    >
    > it consists of, not debating whether it is art or deviant. I also teach
    >
    > it as another genre of film, like Westerns or science fiction.''
    >
    > Today, porn-studies professors say, there is less resistance to and
    > outrage about their work, due in part to the flourishing of pornography
    >
    > on home videos, cable, and the Internet.
    >
    > The study of pornography on campuses emerged about a decade ago,
    > professors say, partly in reaction to the growth of a porn industry that
    >
    > some say nets as much as $14 billion a year, but also as part of a
    > growing movement in academia to study popular culture, gender, and
    > women's issues.
    >
    > In fact, most who teach in the field are women. Many of them echo the
    > arguments of Laura Kipnis, a professor of media studies at Northwestern
    >
    > University, who argues that pornography, in the right context, is
    > liberating.
    >
    > ''It's about removing the stigma and understanding the taboo,'' said
    > Kipnis, author of ''(Male) Desire and (Female) Disgust: Reading
    > Hustler.''
    >
    > Men, however, still face some stigma in teaching pornography. While
    > Jenkins of MIT says he never had any student complain, Peter Lehman, a
    >
    > humanities professor at Arizona State University, once had a printing
    > shop refuse to copy his course packet. Now, Lehman requires all students
    >
    > who take his class on ''Sexuality in the Media'' to sign a consent
    > form.
    >
    > ''It's to prevent possible harassment charges,'' said Lehman, who has
    > co-chaired workshops on porn-pedagogy and is editing an anthology of
    > pornography for college classes. ''I don't want any students to be
    > surprised.''
    >
    > Resistance to pornography in the classroom also affects female
    > professors. In 1999, Wesleyan's president launched a review of
    > Weissman's
    > class, and for years antiporn activists have targeted attention-getting
    >
    > professors such as Penley for protest.
    >
    > At UMass-Amherst, administrators last year pressured Burt to take down
    >
    > his campus Web site, which featured pictures of bare-chested strippers
    >
    > straddling his lap and of his wife dressed as a porn star.
    > Administrators
    > argued the site violated UMass's acceptable use policy for information
    >
    > technology.
    >
    > A year later, however, the author of books such as ''Unspeakable
    > ShaXXXspeares'' has moved the Web site to a commercial server and added
    >
    > content, mixing links to porn sites and interviews with adult-film
    > directors with descriptions of his classes and their syllabuses.
    >
    > For Burt and most others in the field, porn studies is merely a natural
    >
    > extension of their work.
    >
    > ''If you're going to think about Shakespeare adaptations, which is
    > something that I think about,'' he says in an article posted on his Web
    >
    > site, ''then why not Shakespeare porn? It's one kind of adaptation. It's
    >
    > a phenomenon, it's out there, it's part of the culture, so why not study
    >
    > it?''
    >
    > David Abel can be reached by e-mail at dabel@globe.com
    >
    > This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 8/20/2001. Copyright
    >
    > 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.
    >
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
    >

    The culture of pornography gaining grounds among academics huh?
    Well, let's just hope they practise what they preach too...

    Philip.

    ===============================================================
    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit



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