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Prof Clarissa Smith


Department: Arts

Clarissa Smith

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research centres on sexual media and representations. I am interested in the textual formations of pornography and how those play out across different technologies; in how people access and engage with pornographic materials and with other forms of sexualized products. I’m also fascinated by seemingly constant demands for increasing regulation and censorship.

I have written about the problems of attempts to legislate against pornography and have been active in opposing measures which seek to criminalise the imagination. Alongside this work, I have explored porn-star performances, the meanings of masochism in sexual storytelling, the idea of ‘authenticity’ in pornography, and how audiences speak about the sexual content they like.

Recent publications: 

Watching Game of Thrones - an examination of audience responses to the HBO series to be published by Manchester University Press and co-authored with Martin Barker and Feona Attwood.

Objectification On the Difference between Sex and Sexism (Gender Insights) will be published by Routledge in August 2020. Authored with Susanna Paasonen, Feona Attwood, Alan McKee, and John Mercer, the book traces the history of the emergence and use of objectification in a variety of contexts such as debates about sexualization and the male gaze, and its mobilization in connection with the body, selfies and pornography, as well as in feminist activism.

I am a founding co-editor of the Routledge journal Porn Studies, a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Gender Studies, of Sexualities, of Cine-Excess and of Participations

I am co-investigator with Professor John Mercer, Birmingham City University (PI) on the Masculinity, Sex and Popular Culture research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The network connects academics, early career researchers and students as well as experts and commentators from outside of academia. Together we will explore the issues and debates around contemporary masculinity, sex and sexuality in order to set an ambitious agenda for subsequent research. You can see what the network is up to at our website

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Editorial, Attwood, F., Mercer, J., Smith, C. 2 Jan 2021, In: Porn Studies
  • Engaging with pornography: an examination of women aged 18–26 as porn consumers, Attwood, F., Smith, C., Barker, M. 17 Feb 2021, In: Feminist Media Studies
  • Putting Porn Studies (back) into Porn Literacy, Smith, C. 1 Jul 2021, In: Synoptique
  • Re-examining Objectification, Attwood, F., Smith, C., McKee, A., Mercer, J., Paasonen, S. 13 Apr 2021, In: MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture
  • Watching Game of Thrones: How Audiences Engage with Dark Television , Barker, M., Smith, C., Attwood, F. 1 Apr 2021
  • Editorial, Attwood, F., Smith, C., Mercer, J. 2 Apr 2020, In: Porn Studies
  • Editorial, Attwood, F., Smith, C., Mercer, J. 2 Jan 2020, In: Porn Studies
  • Editorial, Attwood, F., Smith, C., Mercer, J. 2 Jul 2020, In: Porn Studies
  • Editorial, Attwood, F., Smith, C., Mercer, J. 1 Oct 2020, In: Porn Studies
  • Objectification: On the difference between sex and sexism, Smith, C., Paasonen, S., Attwood, F., Mercer, J., McKee, A. 1 Sep 2020

Professional Activity

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Invited talk: Digital intimacies: What increasing visibility online means for young people’s privacy, relationships, and safety 2021
  • Invited talk: Porn Literacy Without Porn Studies 2019
  • Invited talk: Sex Media 2019
  • Oral presentation: I use it every day except Sundays! 2019
  • Oral presentation: Screening Sex: Research, Sexual Cultures and Public Engagement Round Table 2019
  • Invited talk: Keeping Up Appearances: British Sexual Culture in the 1980s 2018
  • Oral presentation: Is Porn Corrupting Sex? 2018
  • Invited talk: Teaching Taboo 2018
  • Invited talk: What is Sex? 2017
  • Invited talk: ‘“Sex is the stimulus of life, and my daily caffeine”: on being a regular consumer of pornography’ 2017

PGR Supervision

James Anderson Punk, Porn, & Politics: The Aesthetics of Radical Sexualities Start Date: 01/10/2020


Philosophy DPhil July 01 2002

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