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Simple pornographers? The Marquis de Sade and the evolution of the hard-core pornographic film narrative

Kirkham, Neil (2011) Simple pornographers? The Marquis de Sade and the evolution of the hard-core pornographic film narrative. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Kirkham, Neil

In The Secret Museum: Pornography and Modern Culture, Walter Kendrick demonstrates that whilst the term pornography remains a battleground of ideas and representations, its origins are to be found long before the word itself was invented in the nineteenth-century. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, pornography’s influence on all forms of popular-culture is seen to have dramatically increased, but academic work on the representation of sex has thus far avoided attempting to draw any links between what Kendrick refers to as the different “pornographic eras”, choosing instead to analyse examples in isolation.

This thesis is an attempt to fill that gap and analyses patterns of influence between eighteenth-century French libertine literature and the contemporary hard-core pornographic film. Concentrating on the libertine novels of the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), it studies how his work demonstrates rules and structures in relation to the representation of sex that are still visible in modern pornography. By focusing on four examples of Sade’s work – Les Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome, Justine, La Philosophie dans le Boudoir and l’Histoire de Juliette – it isolates patterns of influence in relation to three key elements: narrative, practices and philosophy.

It therefore looks at both the representation of sex and the narrative structures that surround it. This is a key element of any study of modern pornography, as it can take on a range of narrative forms, with some hard-core films appearing to omit storylines completely. This thesis will therefore consider a range of examples from contemporary hard-core, but will focus primarily on the American producer The Evil Empire and the work of its founder, the director John Stagliano.

Drawing on theoretical material from the study of narratology (`) it studies the relationship between the two forms through the way in which they frame, structure and pace the sexual performance, as well as analysing how they attempt to authenticate such representations. It concludes with a study of the hard-core initiation film, through which the political and philosophical meaning of such representations is assessed.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: film studies, cultural studies, sexual representation
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 1 October 2011
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2012 15:45
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2022 10:16
Item ID: 5137
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/5137

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