Revised Project Proposal

English 504 Revised Project Proposal (Submitted Oct 1 – I’m hella behind on updating this blog.)

Working Title:

Contentious Cartography: Defining and Exploring Feminist Pornography

Problem/Question/Motive Statement:

This project will be both an articulation of a hermeneutics of feminist pornography and a detailed exploration of examples of feminist pornography. What is feminist pornography and how would an explicitly feminist academic approach to the topic look? I will be using two Feminist Porn Award winning films to frame the analysis, and will also be analyzing the Feminist Porn Awards themselves. I will ask the questions: What is feminist porn? And, do Fuckstyles of the Queer and Famous and Cabaret Desire (and the Feminist Porn Awards) qualify, given the criteria I will generate?

Capsule Statement:

This project will build on the work of scholars such as Linda Williams and Katrien Jacobs, who study pornography using the same close textual analysis that scholars have applied to other film genres. As Williams notes, “still and moving-image pornographies have become fully recognizable fixtures of popular culture” (1) and deserve to be studied and taught as other ‘fixtures of popular culture’ have been.

The project will include examination of “feminism” in the context of feminist pornography. The label has been claimed for a variety of often-contradictory viewpoints, including sex-positive feminism and anti-porn feminism, which are often at odds. Intersectionality, which seeks to articulate and understand “the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relations and subject formations” (McCall, 1771) is an important consideration in this context. Since one stated goal of the Feminist Porn Awards is to highlight erotica focused on “marginalized people” (Good for Her) an intersectional analysis is relevant. Mainstream porn is frequently accused of normalizing misogynist and non-consensually violent performances of sexuality. This project will examine what it is that feminist porn normalizes, and how porn earns a feminist label and embodies feminist ideals.

Research Methodology and Writing Process:

The research direction taken over the summer will be revised, and my focus will be on articulating a hermeneutics of feminist pornography (understanding what feminist pornography specifically looks like, what filmic elements it incorporates, and how these create a cohesive feminist whole, if they do) rather than focusing on the tension between academic writing and community emergent writing. This shift in focus will require some catch-up, so my research will start with focusing on film theory and film studies, particularly feminist film theory/studies. My writing process[1] involves multiple viewings of each film, asking questions about the films, and then attempting to answer these questions, using existing academic research and community emergent writing to inform my analysis.

Plan of Action and Timeline:


–       Feminist film theory reading

–       Complete synopsis (with questions) of both Cabaret Desire and Fuckstyles of the Queer and Famous. Submit to Dr. Sullivan for feedback on my questions.


–       Feminist (and non-feminist academic) pornography theory reading

–       Articulate beginnings of hermeneutics and submit to Dr. Sullivan


–       Continue working on hermeneutics of feminist porn

–       Complete semi-polished draft of hermeneutics and rough-draft of film analysis and submit to Dr. Sullivan


–       Complete semi-polished draft of film analysis and submit to Dr. Sullivan

February, March, April:

–       Revise, revise, revise

Works Cited

Good For Her. “Feminist Porn Awards.” Good for Good for Her, n.d. Web. 15 April 2012.

McCall, Leslie. “The Complexity of Intersectionality.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30:3 (2005): 1771-1800. JStor. Web. 15 April 2012.

Williams, Linda. Porn Studies. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Print.

[1] This writing process is documented on my blog at The reason for publishing my process online is because I am ideologically in favour of making the messiness, personal bias, and false starts of academic writing transparent, and taking apart the assumptions of academic writing as pure or objective.

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