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University of Exeter approves new pornography module

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Image: Achim Hepp

New module ‘Pornography: Bodies, Sex, and representation’, led by Dr. João Florêncio, will be added to the department of Art History and Visual Culture. Since the University of Exeter agreed to accredit the module, it will be the first module in British universities that focuses on the study of porn.

Dr. Florêncio’s module is concerned with the history, conventions, and social context of pornography, and discusses the boundaries between art and pornography. It aims to improve students’ critical skills and awareness of such social issues. The module will begin in the 2020-21 or 2021-22 academic year, after Dr. Florêncio’s research leave which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

“… the first UK University with one such module! Porn literacy matters!”

– Dr. João Florêncio, University of Exeter

Dr. Florêncio told Exeposé:

“I am really proud that the University of Exeter will be joining other institutions like UC Berkeley (USA) and the University of New South Wales (AUS) and become part of only a handful of global universities offering academically-rigorous modules on such an important and widespread genre of contemporary visual culture.”

Pornographic images have never been as produced, reproduced and consumed as they are today; they are a ubiquitous feature of contemporary visual culture. It is thus not surprising that public debates on the role and/or danger of porn have increased in recent years. However, those debates often depart from unexamined assumptions and moral positions, with little time and space given to critical engagements with pornographic images and to develop porn literacy.”

Students will, I hope, leave the module better equipped to think critically about issues of power, censorship, obscenity, sex, sexualities, subjectivities, desires and pleasures”

– Dr. João Florêncio, University of Exeter

I think it is of the utmost importance to bring those images and those debates, as well as scholarship from the emerging field of Porn Studies, into the classroom as objects of rigorous academic enquiry. As such, this new interdisciplinary module aims to give students a better understanding of the history of porn and of its conventions, as well as of the modern and contemporary contexts—social, political, and juridical—that have shaped and continue to shape its production, distribution, and consumption. It will cover a wide rage of materials, ranging from literature to early visual erotica; from historically-censored films to the so-called ‘Golden Age of Porn;’ from gay porn to feminist and queer ‘post-porn;’ from online amateur pornography to artworks that blur the boundaries between art and pornography. Students will, I hope, leave the module better equipped to think critically about issues of power, censorship, obscenity, sex, sexualities, subjectivities, desires and pleasures as they intersect and are co-shaped by modern and contemporary pornography.”

He also expressed his excitement about this on twitter, saying that he is “Chuffed to bits that [his] new undergrad module […] has been accredited and that Exeter will be the first UK University with one such module! Porn literacy matters!”

Dr. Florêncio focuses on the study of visual culture and sexuality, in 2017 he published Viral Flows: Dark Ecology, HIV and Community in Bareback Porn. Doing Sex: Men, Masculinities and Sexual Practices. Earlier this year, Dr. João Florêncio’s research project in Porn Studies, ‘Masculinity and the Ethics of Porosity in ‘Post-AIDS’ Gay Porn’ has been awarded a Leadership Fellows grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project involved with many outputs and activities, including the creation of a Masculinities Research Unit at Exeter.

 

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