Pornography and Perversion

Carolyn J. Dean

in The Frail Social Body

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780520219953
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520923485 | DOI:
Pornography and Perversion

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How did interwar commentators in France reconceive the meaning of pornography such that it thematized new fears about sexual deviance and, more generally, moral decline? What is the relationship between fantasies about pornography and the remaking of the integral body after World War I? This chapter addresses these questions by demonstrating how the perception that pornography was an identifiable body of material slowly dissipated as critics became increasingly alarmed at pornography's proliferation. Historians have recently conceived of this proliferation as a symptom of democratization. In so doing, they challenge an older vision, best represented by the historians Montgomery Hyde and Giuseppe Lo Duca, who both argued that pornography was the product of repressive social attitudes and policies. The relationship between pornography and perversion constituted a new rhetorical strategy to preserve the boundaries between a purportedly pure social body and pornography, which came most dramatically under siege after the Great War.

Keywords: France; pornography; sexual deviance; moral decline; fantasies; democratization; Montgomery Hyde; Giuseppe Lo Duca; social body; perversion

Chapter.  11139 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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