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The first history of American handmade and homemade pornography, The People's Porn offers the backstory to the explosion of amateur pornography on the web. In doing so, it provides a much-needed counterweight to ahistorical and ideological arguments that dominate most discussions of pornography.

Critics tend to focus on mass-produced materials and make claims about pornography as plasticized or commodified. In contrast, eminent historian Lisa Z. Sigel looks at what people made, rather than what they bought, revealing how people thought about sexuality for themselves. She explores periods when these sexual artifacts were pilloried, ransacked, and destroyed, providing a unique document of rare nineteenth- and twentieth-century objects. Whalers and craftsmen, prisoners and activists, African Americans and feminists-all made their own pornography.

Ranging across the full sweep of this output, The People's Porn challenges preconceptions as it tells a new and fascinating story about American sexual history

 

Details

ISBN: 9781789142266
Audience: General
Format: Hardback
Number of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 13 Jul 2020
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 20.8(H) x 15.6(L)

 

Reviews

"Sigel has opened the drawer for good with her new book, The People's Porn, where the historian speaks to the prolific creation of pornography and our unique culture that both harbors and represses it."-- "Antiques and the Arts Weekly"
"In The People's Porn, Sigel explores the history of handmade smut. . . . Is that a doctored coin in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"-- "Chicago Magazine"
"Sigel's research glimpses into the history of sexuality in America through handmade pornographic objects, asking what handmade 'trashy' sex objects reveal about our culture and its historical expressions of sexuality. The People's Porn provides timelines and contexts showing that, no matter what obscenity laws our nation puts in place, individuals have always expressed their sexuality through art and crafts."-- "Full Stop"
"Sigel's The People's Porn attempts the ambitious, unglamorous, but fascinating work of drawing together for the firs time an archive of handmade erotic objects made over two centuries of American history. From erotic scrimshaw made by nineteenth-century sailors to amateur polaroids, it charts a course through the ways in which apparently 'ordinary' men and women represented sex in all its variety--cis and trans, straight and queer, in couples or groups, with people or animals and somewhere in between--via prison pornography, pop-up erections, masturbating Santas, and feminist embroidery. In doing so, it tells a story of hidden desire that has often been overlooked . . . The People's Porn is at its most illuminating when exploring the place of sex in shared cultures of humor and conviviality, showing that pornography was as much about male (and sometimes female) bonding as it was about private fantasy."-- "History Today"
"A magnificent and highly original book that convincingly argues homemade and handmade 'porn' objects can tell us important things about history and about sexuality. The People's Porn will be indispensable to anyone with an interest in the continuing debates about the relations between sex, media, and culture."--Feona Attwood, author of "Sex Media" and coeditor of "Porn Studies"
"From the delicately obscene anonymous scrimshaw carvings of the early nineteenth century to the primitively obscene imaginings of the prolific Henry Darger in the twentieth century, to the contemporary obscene repurposing of the anatomy of Barbie Dolls, The People's Porn refutes the overblown truism that commercial pornography has been the only game in town."--Linda Williams, Professor Emerita of Film, Media, and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "Screening Sex and Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the 'Frenzy of the Visible'"

 

Author Biography

Lisa Z. Sigel is Professor of History at DePaul University. Her previous books include Governing Pleasures, International Exposure (2002), and Making Modern Love (2012).

The People's Porn: A History of Handmade Pornography in America
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