Sex, Media, Reception: New Approaches
Call for Proposals
University of Michigan
Screen Arts & Cultures Department
Ann Arbor, MI
February 14-15, 2014
Keynote speakers: Linda Williams, Elena Gorfinkel
Sexual content has never, perhaps, been more prevalent in mediated culture. From depictions of sexuality on HBO and other cable networks to the various kinds of pornography, both “professional” and “amateur,” that proliferate at low or no cost online, consumers have greater access to (and choice of) sexualized media than ever before. This proliferation, concomitant with the development of digital and online technologies, poses new questions to scholars interested in reception contexts.
This symposium brings together leading and emerging scholars on sexuality and media in order to ask: how has the distribution and exhibition of sexual content changed over time? What different scenes of encounter have shaped viewers’ experiences of this content? What historical contexts can be examined to better understand these changes? How has sexuality been differently mediated in genres that have received little scholarly attention, such as sexploitation in the US and Pink Film in Japan? What modes of reception have informed the ways such genres were and are experienced by audiences?
Other questions, too, remain significant for scholars: how do issues of race, gender, and class intersect with technology? How has the move toward “feminist pornography” altered questions of reception? How have regulatory strategies (from both political and cultural perspectives) changed, and how have viewers interacted with those strategies? What is the future of academic study in terms of sexually-related content, and how will the changes in reception technologies alter such work? What unique, topic-specific challenges face scholars and historians interested in mediated sexualities—and what can we learn from one another?
This symposium invites scholars to take up these (and related) questions through the (broadly conceived) lens of reception studies. The term “reception” need not be understood as enforcing a narrow empiricism or any particular methodology; there are many ways of asking how spectators (or, increasingly, interactive users) access, experience, and navigate mediated sexualities, and how these scenes of reception have shifted since the 1960s. The event will feature a pre-conference address by Linda Williams (UC-Berkeley), a keynote address by Elena Gorfinkel (UW Milwaukee), and will conclude with a screening curated by University of Michigan librarian Philip Hallman. The aim is to encourage cross-institutional debate and intellectual exchange, within a complex and ever-shifting field.
Papers are welcome on the following topics, or in related areas:
Stag films/peep shows/arcades
Adult film theaters
Adult drive-in theaters
Erotica and mainstream “adult” films
Tube sites, torrents, and filesharing
Social media and performer/audience interaction
Celebrity sex tapes
Regulatory concerns such as obscenity law, mandatory condom usage, and zoning
Non-US adult film
Theories of spectatorship pertaining to sex and media
To apply to participate, please submit a 250-word abstract and a short bio by November 15, 2013 to Damon Young and Peter Alilunas:
Further details about the conference will be available soon on the Screen Arts & Cultures website: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/sac/events