Still Taboo: Sexual Provocation on 21st Century Screens

Monday, August 1, 2016 (All day)

As indicated by recent scholarship on extreme, perverse, transgressive, and radical cinematic sex (Beugnet 2007, Frey 2016, Gwynne 2016, Horek and Kendall 2013, Kerr and Perberdy 2016, Palmer 2011, Siegel 2015), contemporary film relies more than ever on sexual provocation as a means to stay commercially and creatively vital. At the same time, the “pornification” of popular culture and mainstreaming of risqué sexual content (e.g. cable TV’s “sexposition,” Fifty Shades of Grey’s BDSM eroticism) have raised the bar for what’s considered sexually shocking or scandalous onscreen, in film and beyond. With the aim of assessing what remains sexually taboo in visual representation, and why, this panel invites explorations of sexual provocation in 21st century screen media. Of particular interest are engagements with sexual provocation’s potential to resist and revise sexual norms and norms of sexual representation, and the political force of screening sexual transgression.

Approaches may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Representations (or the lack thereof) of “deviant” eroticism and embodiment (autoeroticism, barebacking, BDSM, bestiality/zoophilia, fetishism, incest, intergenerational and underage sex, necrophilia, scatology, sex work, et al.).
  • Sexual controversies around specific films, television shows, web content, video games, screen performances, promotional campaigns, etc.
  • Screen auteurs, creators, performers, and personalities whose oeuvres or personae are marked by sexual provocation; sexual content as it relates to particular national industries or screen genres/movements/cycles.
  • Intersectional considerations of sexual provocation’s relation to gender, sexual orientation, race, class, age, (dis)ability, ethnicity, religion, et al.
  • Aesthetic approaches to screening sex, e.g. (un)simulated, (in)explicit, comic/dramatic, graphic/verbal treatments of sex on screen; critical responses to sexual representation (e.g. art vs. porn divides/debates).
  • Production and reception cultures around screening provocative sexual content (technological/industrial processes and factors, modes of distribution/exhibition, audience demographics and tastes, viewing practices…).
  • Ideological issues/effects (sexual discourse and its relation to regulatory regimes and identity formations; moralizing, pathologizing, sanitizing, sensationalizing sex on screen; sociopolitical/ethical factors affecting/resulting from screening sex…).
  • Theoretical considerations/applications (questions of affect and cognition pertaining to sexually taboo images; engagements with intellectual figures/traditions e.g. Bataille, Sade, queer theory; questioning what defines pornographic, obscene, transgressive…).
  • Industrial/institutional issues and structures (e.g. censorship, ratings systems, content regulations policies, values coalitions, advocacy organizations…).

Please submit a 300 word proposal and a brief author bio to Maria San Filippo at cinemariasf@gmail.com or Maria.SanFilippo@goucher.edu by August 1, 2016. Decisions will be communicated by August 10, 2016.

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