LOS ANGELES—With little to no fanfare, Porn Studies, the scholarly journal published quarterly and edited by British academics Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith, opened for business today. The first volume, which contains an introduction to the journal by Attwood and Smith, runs a healthy 222 pages of articles, book reviews, and a forum containing miscellaneous editorial.
Articles in the inaugural issues come equipped with some prosaic titles, including "Pornography, porno, porn: thoughts on a weedy field," "Humanities and social scientific research methods in porn studies," "Positionality and pornography," and "Studying porn cultures," to name a few of the articles that, as Time magazine put it today, provide "dense albeit fascinating academic content." The authors of these pieces include names we know—Lynn Comella of UNLV, for instance, not to mention Drs. Chauntelle Anne Tibbals and Linda Williams—as well as ones we do not know—such as Bobby Noble or Katrien Jacobs.
In the "Forum" section, known industry professionals such as Stoya and Courtney Trouble were tapped to provide first-issue fare, in addition to people like Barbara DeGenevieve from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Georgina Voss from the University of Sussex, who interviews Tristan Taormino for the issue.
A half dozen book reviews round out the premiere, on titles such as People's Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet, Why Internet Porn Matters and Hard to Swallow: Hard-Core Pornography on Screen.
It's unclear if the publisher, Routledge, plans to charge for subsequent issues of the quarterly, but for the time being, access to all of the journal's content is free, and can be found here.
Some notice is already being taken. Time, as mentioned was fascinated, but The Atlantic also weighed in today on the launch of Porn Studies, with writer Alexis C. Madrigal noting, "The mere fact of its existence, which became public in mid-2013, was occasion for a media event. But the journal's articles are serious articulations of the intersection between the concerns of media studies and those of pornography. Porn Studies is not a joke, though it seems to provide everyone with some relief to treat it as one."
He also asks, "On the larger goal, though, can Porn Studies articles... actually deepen the way people talk and write about pornography?"
His conclusion for the moment? "I don't know. At least they define a terrain beyond simple Manichean representations of pornography as wholly good or bad."
Needless to say, AVN will also be reviewing Porn Studies in greater depth, including individual content in it that we feel is of potential interest to our readers.