About the researchers
Clarissa Smith

My academic career has been centred on considerations of the ways in which pornography matters to those who consume it and to those who would condemn it. I am interested in the textual formations of pornography and how those play out across different technologies; in how people access and engage with pornographic materials and with other forms of sexualized products; I’m also intrigued by the constant demands for increasing regulation and censorship which rarely seem to engage with the idea that pornographies are realms of representation which dramatise all kinds of sexual feelings and fantasies and therefore actually matter to people in important ways. I have written about the problems of attempts to legislate against pornography and have been active in opposing measures which seek to criminalise the imagination. Alongside this work, I have written about porn-star performances, the meanings of masochism in sexual storytelling, the idea of ‘authenticity’ in pornography and how audiences speak about the films they like, I’m currently working on projects which seek to explore the nuances of porn’s storytelling about sexual desire and which don’t shy away from some of the more outlier or outrageous elements of pornographic productions.

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Feona Attwood

My interest in this area of work first came out of what struck me as a gap between the concerns and panics that are regularly voiced about sex and the media and the lack of real knowledge about different kinds of media representations and their audiences. Some of my writing has focused on the ways in which pornography and other kinds of sexual media have become the focus of public and political discussion; most recently in the debates about ‘extreme’ pornography and the sexualization of young people. I have also tried to chart the different approaches that researchers have taken to the study of pornography and to describe their experiences of working in this area.

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Martin Barker

I first became involved in this area when I began researching moral campaigns against ‘dangerous media’ back in the 1980s.  A study of the 1950s campaign against ‘horror comics’ revealed something that has remained very important to me, that there is a gap between the official language that campaigners adopt, and their underlying motives and purposes.  This study was followed by my involvement in challenging the panics over the so-called “video nasties”.  That revealed to me just how big a role bad research (in that case, the ‘dodgy dossier’ produced by the so-called Parliamentary Group Video Enquiry) can play in persuading politicians and public.

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