This book began as a dissertation directed by a committee of “courage-
teachers”—to borrow from Allen Ginsberg—who generously supported
the labor of imagination and leaps of faith required to complete this proj-
ect. Werner Sollors is courage- teacher extraordinaire. He championed this
project before it was even a project, offered thoughtful suggestions on
numerous drafts, and encouraged me to write fearlessly. I will always be
grateful for his support. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham has been teacher,
advisor, and generous mentor; she consistently raised the intellectual bar,
pushing me to produce better work. She is my model for scholarly integrity
and academic rigor. Kim McClain DaCosta helped me focus on the things
that matter, and encouraged me let go of the things that don’t. I thank her
for insights on how to refine these chapters and—perhaps more impor-
tant—on how to navigate the academy with sanity and a modicum of grace.
This project was also shaped by my undergraduate thesis advisor, Danielle
Egan, who seemed to see this moment long before I did. She introduced me
to theory, encouraged me to “use my voice,” and taught me how to think
critically and creatively about pornography. Everything that has happened
in my intellectual life since my senior year of college bears her imprint.
While finishing this project, I had two other very important courage-
teachers: Sarah Tannenbaum and Darshan Krishna. Sarah’s swimming
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