The course outline raises a number of questions that, if taken seriously, would require fundamentally reconceptualising the whole topic.
- The debate about pornography has been very wide ranging indeed and is not nearly adequately captured by a nod towards those who, like Darnton, still cling to the belief that pornography has the potential of being in any way subversive and a readership with an imputed collective identity of ‘feminist’. I thought we had all ceased a long time ago to use categories such as ‘feminism’, ‘woman’, ‘femininity’ etc. in the singular, acknowledging the multi-layeredness of each by using the plural! The feminist debate about pornography has been so diverse as well as so sophisticated as to warrant a whole course being devoted to unravelling the different strands of the debate.
- On the basis of what criteria can pornography be classified as ‘satisfying’? And what gender would be ‘the modern reader’ who finds a book like ‘Fanny Hill’ ‘satisfying pornography?
- I very much doubt that it makes any sense at all to read supposedly pornographic texts produced over the past 400 years. Pornography, like most cultural phenomena, is historically specific. So what would be the criteria for selecting the texts to be read?
- Finally, I fail to detect any reflection on the gender composition of the class and the subject position of the lecturer. For this kind of topic to be at all teachable, the class would either have to be kept gender-homogeneous – with the limited insights this is most likely to produce – or else require a mixed-gender team of lecturers.
- Dear Jutta,
- First of all: Your response left me delighted. The topic began to attract me while reading Inger Leeman's dissertation (Het woord is aan de onderkant. Radicale Ideeën in pornografische Romans 1670-1700. 2002). I immediately showed my announcement to Anna Auguscik who responded that this was a course she would like to give with me. As you might have seen she put the same listing under her name. As to the four points - I can agree with you on most observations.
- There is no one faction of feminism - but a plurality of voices and views, and as I said: A confrontation Darnton versus feminism will not be an option.
- ...‘satisfying’: Well I do think that there is a remarkable cultural demarcation line somewhere around Cleland's Fanny Hill. It is peculiar that one can buy this book as a Penguin Classic, i.e. as a distant text students of literature might want to explore, and as regular pornography - under a cover which promises just another porno, suited to be sold in a porno shop's bookstall (see the German and English Amazon pages for the diversity of title covers  ). It remains a remarkable thing that you cannot offer pre-Cleland pornography on both markets. Once you read into 16th and 17th century texts you realise: they are not designed to offer the same - and here I need a word: gratification, reading pleasure, satisfaction... you name it. I am looking for a word which I will just as easily use when speaking about Wittgenstein's Tractatus - which definitely offers its special satisfaction to all who will read it.
- Which texts should enter our corpus? I confess I am interested in the pre-Cleland world. I wonder why 17th century readers demanded a satisfaction so entirely different - one only modern cultural historians will find interesting to look at. Anna's interest will be different: She just read a recent collection of erotic short stories edited by Zadie Smith in her AM course. I think it will be interesting to close the gap and to analyse the cultural change the 18th century brought into our world.
- As to your final point - here I am not certain what to think about the hidden theory you proposed: You argue for a female/male teacher constellation to handle a mixed gendered seminar. Well, I see advantages, and this is why I immediately accepted Anna's offer to be with me on that seminar. Yet on the other hand: Imagine a group of predominantly female students would ask me to offer that course - me a male teacher - would there be something wrong about their wish?
- The whole topic might - in any case deserve a Modul with another cultural studies course. Maybe we should think about a combination here. Best --Olaf Simons 15:50, 6 February 2008 (CET)
- Höre gerade auf WDR2 den Talk im Paternoster mit Charlotte Roche, eine ausgesprochene Feministin, die gerade ein sehr nettes Buch namens Feuchtgebiete, geschrieben hat, und die interessante Ansichten zum Thema Feminismus und Pornographie hat. Maike Engelhardt 11:47, 2 March 2008 (CET)