Affect and Online Pornography
336 pp., 6 x 9 in, 40 figures
- Published: September 30, 2011
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An exploration of the modalities, affective intensities, and disturbing qualities of online pornography.
Digital production tools and online networks have dramatically increased the general visibility, accessibility, and diversity of pornography. Porn can be accessed for free, anonymously, and in a seemingly endless range of niches, styles, and formats. In Carnal Resonance, Susanna Paasonen moves beyond the usual debates over the legal, political, and moral aspects of pornography to address online porn in a media historical framework, investigating its modalities, its affect, and its visceral and disturbing qualities. Countering theorizations of pornography as emotionless, affectless, detached, and cold, Paasonen addresses experiences of porn largely through the notion of affect as gut reactions, intensities of experience, bodily sensations, resonances, and ambiguous feelings. She links these investigations to considerations of methodology (ways of theorizing and analyzing online porn and affect), questions of materiality (bodies, technologies, and inscriptions), and the evolution of online pornography.
Paasonen dicusses the development of online porn, focusing on the figure of the porn consumer, and considers user-generated content and amateur porn. She maps out the modality of online porn as hyperbolic, excessive, stylized, and repetitive, arguing that literal readings of the genre misunderstand its dynamics and appeal. And she analyzes viral videos and extreme and shock pornogaphy, arguing for the centrality of disgust and shame in the affective dynamics of porn. Paasonen's analysis makes clear the crucial role of media technologies—digital production tools and networked communications in particular—in the forms that porn takes, the resonances it stirs, and the experiences it makes possible.
Groundbreaking, provocative, insightful. If you want to understand the relationship between the internet and pornography, read this book.
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Finally, a comprehensive book that deals originally, intelligently (and non-hysterically) with on-line pornography.
Linda Williams, Film and Media, University of California, Berkeley
This is precise, original, and inventive work; scholarship of the highest order. Pornography is still a relatively neglected subject in online media studies, and even in 'Porn Studies,' few scholars focus in detail on pornography itself, rather than on its legal, political, or moral status. This book will be a very valuable and significant addition to the literature on pornography and on online media as a whole. It should appeal not only to scholars and students of pornography and Internet studies, but to those who engage with questions of representation and media more generally.
Feona Attwood, Professor of Sex, Communication, and Culture, Sheffield Hallam University, and author of Porn.com: Making Sense of Online Pornography
Susanna Paasonen has done an admirable job of introducing the productive notion of affective resonance into an area that has been dominated by a (deadlocked) pro and anti-debate. This is a significant departure from the media effects based work that is currently being advanced in this field. This book will be useful for advanced researchers, but also to undergraduates in the disciplines of media studies, screen studies, internet studies, cultural studies, critical sociology, sexuality studies, and gender studies.
Katherine Albury, Journalism and Media Research Centre, University of New South Wales, and coauthor of The Porn Report