pornographic affects @ crossroads 2012

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La semaine prochaine débutera le Crossroads 2012, le colloque international des cultural studies. Il se tiendra à Paris, entre l’UNESCO, la Sorbonne et Paris 3 – Censier. Un nombre très important de participants (1300 intervenants dans mon souvenir) vont se relayer entre des plénières, des « spotlights-sessions » et surtout durant des sessions thématiques (plus de 30 sessions en parallèle certains jours : non, personne ne pourra tout voir !), ce qui donne un programme pour le moins gigantesque[pdf]. Un certain nombre de ces sessions auront pour thèmes les visual studies et/ou les politiques des affects, et l’on dénombre parmi des centaines de thèmes différents, trois panels (dont un à la même heure) portant sur la question de la pornographie, de ses usages, et des méthodes pour l’étudier.

Je me fais une joie de présenter ici le panel auquel je vais pour ma part participer (cf. les résumés en fin de post). Il a été concocté  par Florian Vörös, qui lui a attribué le joli titre de Pornographic Affects. Nous aurons le plaisir de voir nos interventions discutées par S. Paasonen, enseignante finlandaise et auteur du fameux Carnal Resonance, une étude féministe centrée sur l’analyse d’un corpus de spams pornographiques.

Nos trois interventions auront lieu à Censier – Sorbonne Nouvelle – paris 3, le mardi 3 juillet à 14h30 (pile). Elle porteront elles aussi sur des terrains liés aux usages du porno en ligne, aux représentations de la sexualité auxquelles celui-ci peut participer, et aux cultures affectives qui s’en dégagent. En voici les résumés :

Pornographic affects

Session abstract
From their beginnings (Dyer, 1985; Williams, 1989, 1991, 1994) to their most recent developments (Paasonen, 2011) one of the central concerns of porn studies have been the bodily feelings and sensations at work in porn spectatorship, the way they have been framed by previous intellectual traditions (moralist legal definitions, behaviorist psychology, anti-pornography feminism), and the way they can be reframed and reconsidered from renewed, located and embodied critical perspectives. Following this path, this session examines the affects at work in bodily practices such as marketing, sharing, posting, commenting, watching, listening and reading contemporary pornographies. The session will focus on pornography produced for, disseminated over, and consumed via the Internet.
References:
Richard Dyer, « Male Gay Porn : Coming To Terms », Jump Cut, no. 30, 1985
Linda Williams, Hard Core. Power, Pleasure and the « Frenzy of the Visible », University of California Press, 1989
Linda Williams, « Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess », Film Quarterly 44, no. 4, 1991
Linda Williams, « Corporealized Observers: Visual Pornography and the ‘Carnal Density of Vision’ », in P. Petro (ed.), Fugitive Images: From Photography to Video, Indiana University Press, 1994
Susanna Paasonen, Carnal Resonance. Affect and Online Pornography, MIT Press, 2011

Porning Intimacy: Homemade Pornography on SellYourSexTape
Kristina Pia Hofer

Amateur pornographies on the internet are all about distinction: to grab the attention of potential viewers, they must offer something new, unusual, or scandalizing. This paper discusses US-based member paysite SellYourSexTape as a case study, and explores how the site stages amateur clips as pornographic home movies to distinguish itself as ‘really’ amateur in the attention economy of the internet. Though both pornography and the home movie are functional genres that aim at evoking specific affects and emotions in their viewers, these affects and emotions seem to not quite match. Home movies have been described as educing a feeling of emotional intimacy, the bliss of long-term attachments, and familial togetherness – themes that are virtually absent from many ‘mainstream’ pornographies. Conversely, pornography depicts sexual acts in maximum visibility and minute detail in order to arouse its audiences, while in most home movies the display of sex and sexualities (let alone as maximally visible performances) are taboo. Clips on SellYourSexTape, however, make this seemingly unbridgeable gap with its contradictory affective register tellingly productive. This paper argues that SYST clips are porning intimacy to grab the attention of its users. Playing on structural  similarities and differences between pornography and the home movie, they offer the homemade display of domestic intimacy as something pornographic, and thus potentially arousing.

The frenzy of « raw » sex. The everyday life reception of condomless pornographies.
Florian Voros

Working from the ethnographic materials of a current investigation among Parisian gay and straight male porn audiences, this paper discusses the receptions of “raw” and “juicy” pornographic subgenres, from the classic condomless straight “meat shot”, to the more recent gay “barebacking” and straight “cream pie”. Although they relate to different sexual cultures, with contrasting experiences of HIV risk, these subgenres have in common their audio, visual and textual eroticized focus on bodily fluids and mucous membranes. The supposed “impact” of “exposure” to these representations on prophylactic behaviors has become an intensely discussed public health issue over the last decade in France. Working from the critical tools of queer studies (Tim Dean, Sharif Mowlabocus) and media reception studies, this paper proposes a move from behaviorist “effect” paradigms towards an ethnographic analysis of the everyday-life routines through which these controversial representations are affectively and ethically “domesticated” (Jane Juffer) by their audiences.

Politics of access, politics of affects and production of knowledge. Reflections from an ethnographic fieldwork on online intimacy cultures
Fred Pailler

How does an ethnographer produce her/his data when investigating websites such as chat rooms, dating sites, first person sexual stories and user generated porn platforms? To collect these documents, he (if s/he’s a man) must sign up and fill in profiles, as any other web user. The personal information registered on these websites serves the purpose of describing himself and, often, of qualifying the contents he wants to see showing up on his screen, as well as those he does not want to. The ethnographer can only understand the suggestion logics of these websites at the condition of going beyond his own identifications, creating and using fake profiles. What he declares about himself and experiments in the reflexive game of falsification, allows him to draw the map of access authorizations and to understand the online circulations and frontiers of intimacy. This methodology confronts the ethnographer to a normative apparatus which combines discourses on technology and sexuality. This apparatus affects his own intimacy and – main consequence – affects the way he accounts for intimacy cultures on the web. This paper discusses the ways in which the production of ethnographic knowledge on online sexual communication is entangled in both politics of access and politics of affects.


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