Susanna Paasonen

Susanna Paasonen is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Turku, Finland. She is the author of Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography (MIT Press) and Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play (Goldsmiths Press).

  • NSFW

    NSFW

    Sex, Humor, and Risk in Social Media

    Susanna Paasonen, Kylie Jarrett, and Ben Light

    An exploration of how and why social media content is tagged as “not safe for work” and an argument against conflating sexual content with risk.

    The hashtag #NSFW (not safe for work) acts as both a warning and an invitation. NSFW tells users, “We dare you to click on this link! And by the way, don't do it until after work!” Unlike the specificity of movie and television advisories (“suggestive dialogue,” “sexual content”), NSFW signals, nonspecifically, sexually explicit content that ranges from nude selfies to pornography. NSFW looks at how and why social media content is tagged “not safe” and shows how this serves to conflate sexual content and risk. The authors argue that the notion of “unsafety” extends beyond the risk of losing one's job or being embarrassed at work to an unspecified sense of risk attached to sexually explicit media content and sexual communication in general. The authors examine NSFW practices of tagging and flagging on a range of social media platforms; online pornography and its dependence on technology; user-generated NSFW content—in particular, the dick pic and associated issues of consent, desire, agency, and social power; the deployment of risqué humor in the workplace; and sexist and misogynist online harassment that functions as an enforcer of inequalities. They argue against the categorical effacement of sexual content by means of an all-purpose hashtag and urge us to shift considerations of safety from pictorial properties to issues of context and consent.

    • Hardcover $27.95 £22.50
  • Many Splendored Things

    Many Splendored Things

    Thinking Sex and Play

    Susanna Paasonen

    Exploring sex—bodily capacities, appetites, orientations, and connections—in terms of play and playfulness.

    We all know that sex involves a quest for pleasure, that sexual palates vary across people's lifespans, and that playful experimentations play a key role in how people discover their diverse sexual turn-ons and turn-offs. Yet little attention has been paid to thinking through the interconnections of sex and play, sexuality and playfulness. In Many Splendored Things from Goldsmiths Press, Susanna Paasonen considers these interconnections. Paasonen examines the notions of playfulness and play as they shed light on the urgency of sexual pleasures, the engrossing appeal of sex, and the elasticity of sexual desires, and considers their connection to categories of identity. Drawing on a broad range of scholarship on sexuality, play, and the media, Paasonen moves from the conceptual to the concrete, examining advice literature on sexual play, the vernacular aesthetics of the Fifty Shades series, girls' experiences of online sexual role-playing, popular media coverage of age-play, and Jan Soldat's documentary films on BDSM culture.

    Paasonen argues that play in the realm of sexuality involves experimentation with what bodies can feel and do and what people may imagine themselves as doing, liking, and preferring. Play involves the exploration of different bodily capacities, appetites, orientations, and connections. Occasionally strained, dark, and even hurtful in the forms that it takes and the sensory intensities that it engenders, sex presses against previously perceived and imagined horizons of embodied potentiality. Play pushes sexual identifications into motion.

    • Hardcover $30.00 £25.00
  • Networked Affect

    Networked Affect

    Ken Hillis, Susanna Paasonen, and Michael Petit

    Investigations of affective experiences that emerge in online settings that range from Facebook discussion forums to “smart” classrooms.

    Our encounters with websites, avatars, videos, mobile apps, discussion forums, GIFs, and nonhuman intelligent agents allow us to experience sensations of connectivity, interest, desire, and attachment—as well as detachment, boredom, fear, and shame. Some affective online encounters may arouse complex, contradictory feelings that resist dualistic distinctions. In this book, leading scholars examine the fluctuating and altering dynamics of affect that give shape to online connections and disconnections. Doing so, they tie issues of circulation and connectivity to theorizations of networked affect. Their diverse investigations—considering subjects that range from online sexual dynamics to the liveliness of computer code—demonstrate the value of affect theories for Internet studies.

    The contributors investigate networked affect in terms of intensity, sensation, and value. They explore online intensities that range from Tumblr practices in LGBTQ communities to visceral reactions to animated avatars; examine the affective materiality of software in such platforms as steampunk culture and nonprofit altporn; and analyze the ascription of value to online activities including the GTD (“getting things done”) movement and the accumulation of personal digital materials.

    Contributors James Ash, Alex Cho, Jodi Dean, Melissa Gregg, Ken Hillis, Kylie Jarrett, Tero Karppi, Stephen Maddison, Susanna Paasonen, Jussi Parikka, Michael Petit, Jennifer Pybus, Jenny Sundén, Veronika Tzankova

    • Hardcover $40.00 £32.00
  • Carnal Resonance

    Carnal Resonance

    Affect and Online Pornography

    Susanna Paasonen

    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.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £32.00

Contributor

  • Writing and Unwriting (Media) Art History

    Writing and Unwriting (Media) Art History

    Erkki Kurenniemi in 2048

    Joasia Krysa and Jussi Parikka

    A critical mapping of the multiplicities of Finnish artist and technology pioneer Erkki Kurenniemi—composer of electronic music, experimental filmmaker, inventor, collector, futurologist.

    Over the past forty years, Finnish artist and technology pioneer Erkki Kurenniemi (b. 1941) has been a composer of electronic music, experimental filmmaker, computer animator, roboticist, inventor, and futurologist. Kurenniemi is a hybrid—a scientist-humanist-artist. Relatively unknown outside Nordic countries until his 2012 Documenta 13 exhibition, ”In 2048,” Kurenniemi may at last be achieving international recognition. This book offers an excavation, a critical mapping, and an elaboration of Kurenniemi's multiplicities.

    The contributors describe Kurenniemi's enthusiastic, and rather obsessive, recording of everyday life and how this archiving was part of his process; his exploratory artistic practice, with productive failure an inherent part of his method; his relationship to scientific and technological developments in media culture; and his work in electronic and digital music, including his development of automated composition systems and his “video-organ,” DIMI-O. A “Visual Archive,” a section of interviews with the artist, and a selection of his original writings (translated and published for the first time) further document Kurenniemi's achievements. But the book is not just about one artist in his time; it is about emerging media arts, interfaces, and archival fever in creative practices, read through the lens of Kurenniemi.

    • Hardcover $50.00 £40.00