Overview of Research Interests
My work in the cultural study of sexuality and gender, particularly in regard to pornographic cultures, is well known in the UK, EU and the US, and is widely cited in international journals, monographs and edited collections. My research interests centre on:
• Sexuality and sexual representations in the contemporary moment.
• The institutional practices, representational strategies, uses and meanings of sexually explicit media and particularly those designated as ‘pornographic’.
• Histories and discourses of censorship especially in relation to sexually explicit materials and sexual practices but with broader applicability to issues relating to more mainstream media and in particular current concerns about young people and their engagements via social media and mobile technologies.
• Discourses of sexual agency, sexual ethics and sexual literacy, especially as they pertain to questions of health and well-being and conceptions of ‘healthy sexual development’.
• Audiences and their meaning making across mainstream and more taboo media forms.
• Relationships between media representations, identities and practices and social policy.
• Discourses and practices of health and wellbeing as they relate to young people.
2002 DPhil University of Sussex
1994 MA Women’s Studies, University of the West of England, Bristol
1985 BA(Hons) Humanities, Bristol Polytechnic
2020 – current Professor, Northumbria University
2002-2020 University of Sunderland
1997-2002 Falmouth College of Arts
1994-1997 University of West of England, Bristol
Currently External Examiner for University of Chester MRes Gender Studies;
previously external examiner roles at Birmingham City University; Bournemouth; Bath Spa; College of St Mark & St John, Plymouth; Liverpool Hope; Sheffield University.
PhD Supervision and Examination
Current (as DoS)
James Anderson, Punk, Porn, and Politics, NINE DTP funded, due to complete Summer 2021.
Alessandra Mondin, 2018) Dirty Diaries: Interrogating the Intertwined Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics of Feminist Desires, (2018) (DoS).
Liam Wignall, 2017, Kinky Sexual Cultures and Virtual Leisure Spaces: Images, Communities and Conceptions of Risk, (DoS).
Nick Cope, 2012, Northern Industrial Scratch – The history and contexts of a visual music practice.
Tonya Anderson, 2012, Still Kissing Our Posters Goodnight? The Shift from Individual to Communal ‘Bedroom Culture’ as Pop Idol Fandom Goes Online.
Jacky Collins, 2011, Representations of Lesbian Identities in Contemporary Spanish Fiction and Film. (DoS)
Linda Myers, 2011, Women as Backpacker Tourists: A feminist analysis of destination choice and hybrid identities from the UK.
Martin James, 2006, Versioning Histories and Genres.
Art Mitchells-Urwin. 2020. ‘Pornography in Thailand and the Consumption of Pornography among the Thai Diaspora in the UK’ SOAS, London.
Sanna Spisak. 2019. Porn and Norms – Pornography and normative notions of gender, love, sex, and relationships in the sexual narratives of Finns on their adolescent experiences, University of Turku.
Sarah Taylor-Harman. 2018. Returning to Roissy:Female Submission and Masochism in Story of Oand its Adaptations, Brunel University.
Milena Popova “Slight dub-con but they both wanted it hardcore”. Erotic fanfiction as a form of cultural activism around sexual content, UWE Bristol, 2017.
Cassandra McLuckie. 2016. “Orgasm Machines, Even Stevens and Sexy Monsters”: Accounting for Straight Sex.University of Leeds, 2016
Akkadia Ford. 2016. Transliteracy and the Trans New Wave: Independent Trans Cinema Representation, Classification, Exhibition, Southern Cross UniversityAustralia, 2016
Desloehal Djumrianti. 2016. Representations of Jakarta as a Tourist Destination: A Critical Discourse Analysis, University of Sunderland.
Rob Finnigan. 2016. Between Peacocks and Shamrocks: Aestheticism, Decadence and The Anglo-Irish, University of Sunderland.
Audrey Yue. 2015. Affective networks: an analysis of adult live cams, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Janaina Moreira Figueira. 2015. ‘Global Affective Networks: An Analysis Of Paid Adult Live Cams’ School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Lise Dilling Hansen. 2015. ‘My Artpop Could Mean Anything’: An investigation of the gender and body performances of Lady Gaga and of the negotiation practices and affective responses of Gaga fans, Aarhus University, Denmark, .
Paul Byron. 2014. Intimate negotiations of young people’s sexual health, University of New South Wales, Australia, 2014.
Neil Kirkham. 2011. Contemporary American hard-core films and the work of the Marquis de Sade, University of the Arts, London.
Mitzi Waltz. 2007. A Social and Cultural History of Autism, University of Sunderland.
Publications and Research Outputs
Currently working on:
Sexualised Masculinities, co-authored book with John Mercer (BCU), contracted by Routledge to be delivered August 2021.
Martin Barker, Clarissa Smith, Feona Attwood. Watching Game Of Thrones: How Audiences Live With Dark Television. Manchester: Manchester University Press, to be published March 2021.
Selected publications since 2014
Rachel H. Scott, Clarissa Smith, Eleanor Formby, Alison Hadley, Lisa Hallgarten, Alice Hoyle, Cicely Marston, Alan McKee & Dimitrios Tourountsis. What and how: doing good research with young people, digital intimacies, and relationships and sex education, Sex Education, 20:6, 675-691, DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2020.1732337
Susanna Paasonen, Feona Attwood, Alan McKee, John Mercer, Clarissa Smith. Objectification: On the Difference between Sex and Sexism. London: Routledge
Engaging with pornography: an examination of women aged 18–26 as porn consumers, Feminist Media Studies. Online First. DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2019.1681490 with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker.
‘Politics, Policy and Porn’ Sexualities. Preprint.
‘”I’m just curious and still exploring myself’: Young People and Pornography’. New Media and Society. Preprint. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1461444818759271 with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker.
The Routledge Companion to Sex, Sexualities and the Media. London: Routledge. Co-edited with Feona Attwood and Brian McNair.
‘Pornography’. In T.Sanders (ed) Oxford Handbook of Sex Offences and Sex Offenders, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
‘A Mother’s Love Cannot Be Denied: Ma Mere’. In D.Kerr and D.Perberdy (eds) Tainted Love: Screening Sexual Perversities, London: IB Tauris. 2017.
‘Porn Audiences Online’ (co-authored with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker). In P.Messaris and L.Humphreys (eds) Digital Media 2: Transformations in Human Communication. Peter Lang. 235-244.
‘”I want James Deen to Deen Me with his Deen”: The multi-layered stardom of James Deen’ (co-authored with Sarah Harman). In Guy Austin and Sabrina Q Yu (eds) Revisiting Star Studies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
‘Sleazy Strip-Joints and Perverse Porn Circuses: The Remediation of Grindhouse Aesthetics in the porn productions of Jack the Zipper’. In A. Fisher and J.Walker (eds), Grindhouse: Transcultural Exchange on 42nd Street, and Beyond, London: Bloomsbury Academic.
‘Breathing New Life into Old Fears: An Extreme Case in Stafford’. In J.Walker et al (eds), The Cultural Mythology of the Snuff Movie. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
‘Les motifs de la consummation de pornographie’ (with Feona Attwood & Martin Barker) In F.Voros (ed) Cultures Pornographiques: Anthologie Des Porn Studies. Editions Amsterdam.
‘It’s Important You Don’t Smell a Suit On It’: Aesthetics of Alt Porn. In E.Biasin et al. (eds), Porn After Porn. Udine: Univ of Udine Press.
‘Sex and the Media’. In M.Conboy et al (eds), Routledge Companion to British Media History. London: Routledge.
Investigating Young People and Sexual Cultures, (co-edited with Feona Attwood). London: Routledge.
‘Anti/pro/critical porn studies’, (co-authored with Feona Attwood). Porn Studies. Vol 1 issue 1-2: 7-23. 2014.
‘Teenage Kicks: Die Auseinandersetzung junger Menschen mit Pornografie, Ergebnisse des pornresearch.org-Fragebogens’’ In L.Andergassen et al (eds.) Explizit! Neue Perspektiven zu Pornographie und Gesellschaft. Berlin: Bertz +Fischer.
‘Queering Porn Audiences’ (co-authored with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker). In Katy Pilcher et al. (eds), Queer Sex Work. London: Routledge.
‘Why Do People View Pornography’, (co-authored with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker). In L.Comella and S.Tarrant (eds) New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law. Santa Barbara: Praeger.
2019 ‘Young People and Digital Intimacies: What is the evidence and what does it mean? Where next?’, derived from the Wellcome Trust funded research project disseminated to policy makers and stakeholders. I was invited to report on the research and its findings to Norman Lamb, MP and Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee; Home Office Stakeholder Workshop; Vicky Ford MP; NSPCC; MediaMatters and Sexplain.
Recent Conferences & Talks
Teaching Sex Work Studies: Sensitivities and ethics of teaching around gender, violence, and sexuality. A symposium for teachers and students. University of Leicester. 16 July.
‘“Sex is the stimulus of life, and my daily caffeine”: on being a regular consumer of pornography’, Doing Sex: Men, Masculinity and Sexual Practices Conference, Newcastle University, 13-14 July.
‘Talking about Pornography in Everyday Life: what can be learned from talking to audiences?’, invited lecture for the “Screening Pleasure” series at the University of Vienna, 16 May.
‘Young people and pornography, what do they say’’, invited talk School of Sociology, Leeds University, 22 February.
‘National Pornographies: Politics, Tastes and Regulation’ invited presentation at Sixth Annual Screen Industries In East-Central Europe Conference: An ECREA Pre-Conference – The Long 1990s, the National Film Archive, Prague, Czech Republic, 3-5 November.
‘Sex, Digital Technology and the City’, invited public talk, STRELKA, Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow, 27 July.
‘The place of pornography in everyday life: fear, legislation and research’ invited lecture for
University of Nevada Las Vegas Forum Lecture (written up in Las Vegas Weekly as UNLV’s University Forum Lecture series delves into porn and politics,
http://lasvegasweekly.com/as-we-see-it/2016/apr/08/unlv-university-forum-lectureseries-porn-politics/), 8 April.
‘Porn on the Brain’, invited lecture at University of California, Santa Barbara, 4 April.
Examples of Public Engagement
Since 2010 I have acted as Expert Witness in twelve Crown Court cases under Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and the Obscene Publications Act 1959, two of these were extensively reported.
I have also responded to Government proposals to extend current legal controls relating to pornography and the digital environment (2007-18); and to government sponsored Reviews (2010; 2011; 2015). I have been invited to present at the Houses of Parliament (2011) and to advise Italian MEP Lilli Gruber regarding pornography and elements of sexual culture; and Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords and co-ordinator of Lords’ opposition to the Government’s Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, 2008.
I have participated in numerous public engagement events including the Bradford Literature
Festival, the Sick! Festival in Brighton and Manchester, Science Museum Lates, Being a Man
Festival, ESRC Social Science Festival and at the Wellcome Trust’s in-gallery events as part of their Sexology exhibition in 2015. I have also been invited to present aspects of my research to professionals including sex and relationship therapists and youth workers and to the Sexpression Annual Conference. Recent events include:
Invited speaker at NSPCC, London, 28 October 2019.
Panel presenter at the NSPCC Annual Conference, London, 20 July 2018.
Keynote speaker at the Open Innovations Forum “Technopark Skolkovo” Moscow on the Future Sex in the Digital Economy, 18 October 2017.
Keynote speaker at Family Planning Association’s launch event, London, 6 September 2017.
I am regularly asked for expert advice by journalists and radio and TV producers and have contributed to numerous programmes/articles. I have written for the The Times, Times Higher and the Economist and appeared on local and national radio contributing to debates around young people, sexualisation, new media technologies and regulation. Recent media contributions include:
In-studio guest discussing porn at work, BBC2 Newsnight, December 4 2017
On-camera interview for Jarowskij production company (prod. Jasper Lake) for their six part documentary on the Private Company, February 2017.
On-camera interview for SVT Kobra, Swedish television. TX 24 March 2016.
Authored debate piece as part of The Economist ‘Online Pornography Debate’ available at http://debates.economist.com/debate/online-pornography?state=summary&csort=date_desc, 17-27 November 2015.
External funding/research grants
Co-Investigator: AHRC Network funding: ‘Masculinity, Sex, and Popular Culture’ with John Mercer (PI), award 2019 – ongoing
Principal Investigator Wellcome Trust Seed Awards under their Sexual Health special focus, 2018
Scientist in Charge: Marie Curie Actions— Intra-European Fellowships (IEF) with Giovanna Maina for Women in Porn— Degradation or Empowerment? Challenging Stereotypes About Women in Porn, 2013-2015.
Co-Investigator: AHRC funding: ‘Onscenity: Sex. Commerce, Media and Technology’ Research Networking, 2010.
Co-Investigator: British Academy funding: ‘Investigating young people’s sexual cultures: an exploratory project with researchers, agencies and educators’, 2008.
Editorial Board and Peer Review Experience
In 2014, with Prof. Feona Attwood, I established Porn Studies, the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore pornographic productions and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal and social contexts. Housed at Routledge, the interdisciplinary journal is focused on developing knowledge of pornographies past and present, in all their variations and around the world.
On its launch, the journal received unprecedented levels of media interest and more than 200,000 downloads of articles from the first issue. The top three ‘most read’ articles of 2014 for T&F journals in Media and Culture came from Porn Studies. The journal looks set to transform the study of pornography, bringing into focus the ways in which this stigmatised media form is connected to, has influence on and is influenced by ‘mainstream’ media and technologies and has significance to ways of thinking about the self, sexual identity and what it means to be human.
I am a member of the Editorial Boards of
2013- Journal of Gender Studies
2012- Cine-Excess E-Journal
Beyond these editorial roles I review for journals across my field of research (including European Journal of Cultural Studies; Feminist Media Studies; Feminist Theory; Intensities; International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics; Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance; Journal of Children & Media; Journal of Sex Education). I also regularly review book manuscripts and proposals for academic presses (including Bloomsbury; Open University; Palgrave; Rutgers University).