An Aesthetics of Transgressive Pornography

Michael Newall

in Art and Pornography

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609581
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746260 | DOI:
An Aesthetics of Transgressive Pornography

Show Summary Details


This chapter targets works of literary pornography that achieve their primary effect, sexual arousal, in part by representing a particular kind of norm-breaking, namely the violation of social or moral norms about sexual behaviour. Key examples include the Marquis de Sade's The One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom and Raymond Queneau's We Always Treat Women Too Well. While some of these norm-breaking scenarios, especially the milder ones, sometimes function as little more than an ‘interesting’ way of framing otherwise standard sex scenes, they can also add to sexual arousal, as well as provide a basis for other affective states, such as disgust, humour, and awe. Such affects, which are typically adventitious and unsolicited in popular pornography, are exploited for artistic purposes in literary pornography. This chapter not only shows how each of these affects has a basis in the norm-breaking of transgressive pornography, but also investigates the artistic value that can accrue to these affects by examining Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye and the roles that disgust, humour, and awe play in it.

Keywords: transgression; Marquis de Sade; Bataille; pornographic literature; disgust; awe; Queneau

Chapter.  8455 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.