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Cover of Pornography
June 2006
Rutgers University Press

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Pornography: Film and Culture

Edited by: 
Peter Lehman

Porn is big business. By some estimates, it grosses more revenue per year than the entire "legitimate" film and entertainment industry. Most large hotel chains offer pay-for-view adult movies, many video stores have adult movie rental sections, and internet porn sites have proliferated by the thousands. With porn so ubiquitous in mainstream American culture, why is it that when "respectable" people talk about this phenomenon, they act puzzled, as if they cannot imagine who would watch such worthless and meaningless smut?

In this collection of path-breaking essays, 13 respected scholars bring critical insights to the reality of porn and what it can tell us about ourselves sexually, culturally and economically. Moving beyond simplistic feminist and religious positions that cast these films as categorical evils — a collective preserve of sexual perversion, misogyny, pedophilia, and racism — the contributors to this volume raise the bar of the debate and push porn studies into intriguing new territory.

The essays are divided into two sections. The first reprints important debates on the topic and traces the evolution of pornographic film, including comparing its development to that of Hollywood cinema. The second part presents new essays that consider current trends in the field, including pornography's expansion into new technologies.

This book separates this compelling genre from the sensation and shame that have long surrounded and obscured it. It will be of interest to general readers and film scholars alike.


Peter Lehman is a professor in the Department of English at Arizona State University.