CS 336: Sex, Writing and Pornography

CS 336: Sex, Writing & Pornography

Instructor: Matias Viegener

While the contemporary meaning of “pornography” suggests primarily the visual representation of sex, the roots of the word are in language: pornography means "the writing of harlots." This course traces literary sex writing from the Marquis de Sade to the contemporary avant-garde and examines the issues of language, the body, embodied experience, sensation and liberation that arise in it. While we may reference visual pornography, the focus of this course is on the ways in which sex has been written or inscribed into narrative. At the core of this examination lies the question of how the tools of language and narrative are used to talk about and construct notions of human sexuality. We will consider the ways in which rather than simply describing sex, these texts construct both the content and the meaning of sex, as well as inscribing or mapping the human body into various erogenous zones. In this class we will be reading notorious works of pornography, many of which have been censored and banned at different times. There are three basic parts to the examination of these works: 1) the nature and variety of human sexuality and desire, 2) the way in which language and narrative construct the erotic body, and 3) the social and political ramifications of the representation of human sexuality.