College Guide


June 04, 2013 2:56 PM The Porn Publication

By Daniel Luzer


The publishing company Routledge is introducing a new academic periodical, Porn Studies, a quarterly journal that will launch next spring. Many academics aren’t so happy with this.

PS will be,

The first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal and social contexts. Porn Studies will publish innovative work examining specifically sexual and explicit media forms, their connections to wider media landscapes and their links to the broader spheres of (sex) work across historical periods and national contexts.

Wow, that quickly got a lot less exciting than the title would indicate.

Porn Studies is an interdisciplinary journal informed by critical sexuality studies and work exploring the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, class, age and ability. It focuses on developing knowledge of pornographies past and present, in all their variations and around the world. Because pornography studies are still in their infancy we are also interested in discussions that focus on theoretical approaches, methodology and research ethics.

Many find the journal in questionable taste. Critics have created a petition complaining that,

While we agree that pornography and porn culture demand and deserve more critical attention, as a group of academics, activists, anti-violence experts, health professionals, and educators, we are deeply concerned about the journal’s intention and focus and about its editorial board, which is uniformly pro-porn.

They argue that Routledge should either “change the composition of the editorial board, confirm the journal’s commitment to a heterogeneous interrogation of the issues embedded in porn and porn culture, and ensure that diverse perspectives are represented” or “create another journal which will represent the position of anti-porn scholars and activists.”

This is silly. Perhaps I’m missing something, but it seems to be that being an “anti-porn scholar” is sort of like being an anti-glacier scholar. Porn exists because people demand it. Isn’t it time we acknowledged its existence and study it seriously?

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer