Porn Studies:
Proliferating Pornographies
On/Scene: An Introduction
linda williams
*
Porn Studies grew out of a graduate seminar on pornography in the Fi
Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Many of its ch
ters were originally seminar papers, now much revised, for courses offer
in 1998 and again in 2001. The volume augments the essays by th
younger scholars, many of them still completing their doctorates, with s
eral more established contributors to the field: Rich Cante, Constance P
ley, Angelo Restivo, Eric Schaefer, Tom Waugh, and I. The porn studies
this volume diverge markedly from the kind of agonizing over sexual polit
that characterized an earlier era of the study of pornography. Where onc
seemed necessary to argue vehemently against pro-censorship, antiporn
raphy feminism for the value and importance of studying pornography (s
for example, the 1990s anthologies Sex Exposed and Dirty Looks), today po
studies addresses a veritable explosion of sexually explicit materials that
out for better understanding. Feminist debates about whether pornograp
should exist at all have paled before the simple fact that still and movi
image pornographies have become fully recognizable fixtures of popular c
ture.
To me, the most eye-opening statistic is the following: Hollywood mak
approximately 400 films a year, while the porn industry now makes fro
10,000 to 11,000. Seven hundred million porn videos or dvds are ren
each year. Even allowing for the fact that fewer viewers see any single wo
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