Prof. Clarissa Smith's profile

Click for Clarissa's book: One for the girls at Amazon
Radical Women cover
     (See Public Engagement below)

Professor Clarissa Smith
Professor of Sexual Cultures
Associate Director of CRMCS
Co-editor of Porn Studies


Telephone: (0191) 515 2708
Room: 101c



  • MACM03 Consumption and Everyday Life
  • MACM04 Film and Feminism
  • MACM08 Dissertation
  • MACM14 Feminism and Popular Culture
  • MACM25 Research Methods
  • MACM15 Representing Sexualities


  • MAC301 Media Studies II
  • MAC221 Sexual Cultures

My research has focused on the texts and contexts of sexually explicit media and sexual practices. It involves the examination of theories of identities and pleasures; citizenship; communities; understandings of media practice and policy; censorship; histories of representations; practices and politics of media research; intersections of class, race, gender and sexual orientation; development of porn studies; experiences of media uses and phenomenological accounts of the everyday. I welcome enquiries from new research students in any of my areas of interest.

I am a founder member of the Onscenity Network - an AHRC funded initiative - and with colleagues Feona Attwood, Clare Bale, Sarah Harman, Claire Harris and Julian Petley organized the Sexual Cultures conference at Brunel in April 2012. The network continues to thrive and we are keen to develop further collaborations with colleagues nationally and internationally.

I have been involved in a number of high profile court cases under Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and the Obscene Publications Act 1959 advising the defense and acting as expert witness to the Court.

  • 2012  R v Walsh, acquitted August, Kingston Crown Court
  • 2012  R v Peacock, acquitted January, Southwark Crown Court
  • 2011 R v Webster, acquitted January, Stafford Crown Court
  • 2010 R v Holland, case dropped by CPS following expert reports

I am also an editorial board member of the Journal of Gender Studies, Sexualities, Cine-Excess eJournal, and Participations

Recent Projects:

With the support of the University of Sunderland I have initiated the first large scale study of audiences engaging with sexual media and am, with Professors Feona Attwood and Martin Barker, currently writing up the results of our survey of more than 5000 respondents. A further study of young people and their responses to sexual media is still live, and if you're between the ages of 16 and 25 you can complete the survey at

Also see research projects and collaborations and my website for further information

Key Research Output:

  • Books and Special Issues

    2018 (forthcoming): The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality, co-edited with Feona Attwood and Brian McNair, London: Routledge

    2014: co-editor with Feona Attwood, Investigating Young People's Sexual Cultures, book version of special issue of Journal of Sex Education, London: Routledge

    2013: co-author with Niall Richardson and Angela Werndly, Studying Sexualities: Theories, Representations, Cultures. London: Palgrave MacMillan‌

    2011: co-editor with Feona Attwood, Special Issue on Young People and Sexual Cultures, Journal of Sex Education

    2010:  co-editor with Michael Higgins and John Storey, Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press

    2007:  One for the Girls! The Pleasures and Practices of Pornography for Women Bristol: Intellect

  • Journal Articles

    2016 (with Feona Attwood): 'Porn Audiences Online', Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication (in press)

    2014 (with Feona Attwood): 'Anti/pro/critical porn studies', Porn Studies 1.1-2: 7-23

    2014 (with Feona Attwood): 'Leisure Sex: More Sex! Better Sex! Sex is F***ing Brillian! Sex, Sex, Sex, SEX!' in the German hardback Earnest & Algernon Magazine.

    2013 (with Ruth Deller):  'Rereading the BDSM Romance: Reader Responses to Fifty Shades of Grey', special issue of Sexualities , 16.8, December, pp. 932-50

    2011:  Co-author with Feona Attwood, 'Lamenting Sexualization: Research, Rhetoric and the Story of Young People's "Sexualization" in the UK Home Office Review', Special Issue on Young People and Sexual Cultures, Journal of Sex Education 11.3, August, pp. 327-337

    2010:  Co-author with Feona Attwood, 'Extreme Concern: Regulating "Dangerous Pictures" in the UK', Journal of Law and Society (special issue), 37.1, March, pp. 171-188

    2010:  'Pornographication: A Discourse for All Seasons', International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 6.1, pp. 103-108

    2010:  'Review of Linda Papadopoulos, Sexualisation of Young Peope Review', Participations, 7.1

    2009:  'Pleasure and Distance: Exploring Sexual Cultures in the Classroom' Sexualities, Special Issue on 'Teaching and Researching the Sexually Explicit', 12.5, pp. 568-585

    2007:  'Designed for Pleasure: Style, indulgence and accessorized sex' European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10.2, pp. 167-184

    2007:  'Pornography For Women, Or What They Don't Show You In Cosmo!' Journalism Studies, 8.4, pp. 529-538

    2003:  'Fellas in Fully Frontal Frolics: Naked Men In For Women Magazine' Paragraph 26.1/2 (July), pp. 134-146

    2002:  'Shiny Chests and Heaving G-Strings: A night out with the Chippendales' Sexualities 5.1 (February), pp. 67-89

    2002:  '"They're ordinary people, not aliens from the Planet Sex!": the mundane excitements of pornography for women' Journal of Mundane Behaviour 3.1 (February) at

  • Book Chapters

    2017 (in press):  'Pornography' in Brian Francis and Teela Sanders (eds), Oxford Handbook of Sex Offences and Sex Offenders, Oxford: Oxford University Press

    2016 (in press):  'A Mother's Love Cannot be Denied: Ma Mere' in Darren Kerr and Donna Perberdy (eds), Tainted Love: Screening Sexual Perversities, London: IB Tauris

    2016:  'Breathing New Life into Old Fears: An Extreme Case in Stafford' in Johnny Walker et al (eds), The Cultural Mythology of the Snuff Movie, London: Bloomsbury Academic

    2016: 'Sleazy Strip-Joints and Perverse Porn Circuses: The Remediation of Grindhouse Aesthetics in the porn productions of Jack the Zipper' in Austin Fisher and Johnny Walker (eds), Grindhouse: Transcultural Exchange on 42nd Street and Beyond, London: Bloomsbury Academic

    2015:  (with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker) 'Exploring XXX: Interests, Motivations and Themes in Porn Consumption' in Florian Voros (ed), Cultures Pornographiques: Anthologie des Porn Studies, Paris: Editions Amsterdam

    2014:  '"It's Important You Don’t Smell a Suit On It": Aesthetics of Alt Porn' in Enrico Biasin, Giovanna Maina, Federico Zecca (eds) Porn After Porn, Udine: Mimesis/University of Udine Press

    2014:  'Sex and the Media' in Martin Conboy et al (eds), Routledge Companion to British Media, London: Routledge

    2014:  (with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker) 'Queering Porn Audiences' in Mary Lain, Katy Pilcher and Nicole Smith (eds), Queer Sex Work, London: Taylor & Francis

    2014:  (with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker) 'Teenage Kicks: Die Auseinandersetzung junger Menschen mit Pornografie, Ergebnisse des' in Lisa Andergassen, Till Claasesen, Katja Grawinkel, Anika Meier (eds), Explicit! Neue Perspektiven zu Pornographie und Gesellschaft, Berlin: Bertz + Fischer

    2014:  (with Martin Barker and Feona Attwood) 'Figuring the Porn Audience' in Lynn Comella and Shira Tarrant (eds), New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law, 2 Volumes, Praeger

    2013:  (with Feona Attwood) 'Leisure sex: more sex! Better sex! Sex is fucking brilliant! Sex, Sex, Sex, SEX' in Tony Blackshaw (ed), The Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies, London: Routledge

    2013:  (with Feona Attwood) 'Emotional Truths and Thrilling Side Shows: The Resurgence of Anti-Porn Feminism’ in Tristan Taormino, Celine Parrenas Shimizu, Constance Penley, Mireille Miller-Young (eds), The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure, New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York

    2013:  'From Intimate Viewing To Public Sharing Of Sexual Experiences: Network Interactions In The Age Of Internet Pornography’ in Barbara Laborde (ed) (for publication in French) Colloque Reseaux, Sorbonne Press

    2012:  'His Soul Shatters at About 0:23: Self-Scaring and Hyberbolic Shock in YouTube Reaction Videos’ (co-authored with Julia Kennedy, University College Falmouth), in Feona Attwood, Vincent Campbell, Ian Hunter and Sharon Lockyer (eds), Controversial Images, Palgrave MacMillan

    2012:  'Reel Intercourse: Sex as Special Effect' in Darren Kerr and Claire Hines (eds) Hard To Swallow: Reading Pornography On Screen London: Wallflower

    2012:  '"I guess they got past their fear of porn": women viewing porn films' in Xavier Mendik (ed) Peep Shows Alterimage III, London: Wallflower Press

    2010:  'British Sexual Cultures' in Michael Higgins, Clarissa Smith & John Storey (eds) Cambridge Companion to Contemporary British Culture Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press

    2010:  'Reel Intercourse: Sex and the Performing Body' in Enrico Basin & Frederico Zecco (eds) in Il porno espanso. Dal cinema ai nuovi media (published in Italian) Udine/Milano: Mimesis

    2009:  'Pleasing Intensities: Masochism and Affective Pleasures in Porn Short Fictions' in Feona Attwood (ed) Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualisation of Western Culture London: I.B Taurus

    2005:  'A Perfectly British Business: Change, Stagnation and Continuities on the Top Shelf' in L. Sigel (ed) International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography 1800-2000 University of Rutgers Press

    1997:  'Talking Dirty in For Women Magazine' in J. Arthurs & J. Grimshaw (eds) Women's Bodies: Discipline and Transgression London: Cassell

  • Invited Speaker

    March 2016:  'More Than Just Flesh: The Porn Performer's Body in Action', Symposium on Cinema, Embodiment and Aesthetics of Pornography, University of Ken

    October 2014:  'Porn Studies and Media Attention', research seminar, Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham City University

    April 2014:  Keynote address, Censorship and the Media: Where are we now? conference, University of Sunderland (London campus)

    March 2014:  Opening address, 'Moving Beyond Media Framings about Pornography', Annual Undergraduate Conference: Pornography in Contemporary Times and Spaces, University of Chester

    March 2013:  Keynote address, New Approaches to Gender, Film and Television: Histories and Futures in the Digital Age conference, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

    January 2013:  'Teenage Kicks' at 'Explizit! - Perspektiven um Pornografie zu verhandeln' ('Explicit! - Coming to terms with Pornography') at the University for Applied Sciences, Potsdam, Germany

    December 2012:  'Discourses of Addiction', Sexualisation, Sexual Consent and Porn Addiction Seminar, Open University, London

    August 2012:  Sex And Relationships, Research And Public Engagementat Open University, London

    June 2012:  'More than just meat: The body of the Porn Star', at the Bodies: Flesh, Performance, Media, Disgust and Desire seminar, Birkbeck College, London

    May 2012:  'Researching Engagements with Pornography', Special Seminar at St Lawrence University, Canton, USA

    December 2011:  Plenary Session: 'Pornification/ Sexualisation/Obscenity: Developing Research Agendas' with Martin Barker and Feona Attwood, Pornified?: Complicating debates about the 'sexualisation of culture': An International Conference, Institute of Education, London

    November 2011:  'Men and Pornography: Victims And/Or Perpetrators?' College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists Conference, Kings College London

    July 2011:  'Sexualisation and Ventriloquising Parents', Sexualisation: A Cause for Concern, British Sociological Association Seminar, University of Sheffield

    May 2011:  Keynote Presentation, 'Engaging with Pornography', Onscenity: Porn Audiences Event, London

    April 2011:  'On/scenity: Uses and Misuses' with Susanna Paasonen & Feona Attwood, Film Forum 2011: VIII MAGIS – International Film Studies Spring School, Gorizia, Italy

    April 2011:  'Analyzing Pornography' with Susanna Paasonen & Feona Attwood, Film Forum 2011: VIII MAGIS – International Film Studies Spring School, Gorizia, Italy

    March 2011:  Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Notion of Networks, A symposium project organized by Université Paris3/IRCAV

    September 2010:  Sexual Rights, Openess and Regularity Systems organised by the NGO Association for Progressive Communication at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius, Lithuania

    July 2010:  Launch event for Onscenity Network, University of London Union, London

    March 2010:  Deliberative Seminar on the Place of Pornography in Relation to Sexual Health and Well-being, WISH, Edinburgh

    April 2008:  'Extreme' Pornography and Discourses of Censorship, Critical Sexology, London

    January 2008:  The New Sex Crimes: Electronic Obscenity + Censorship, Institute for Contemporary Arts, London

    June 2007:  MeCCSA Women's Media Studies Network Seminar: Women and Pornography, University of Sunderland

    May 2007:  Researching and Teaching the Sexually Explicit: Ethics, Methodology and Pedagogy, De Montfort University, Leicester

    December 2006:  MeCCSA Women's Media Studies Network Seminar: Women, Sex and Media, Sheffield Hallam University

    December 2004:  Research Seminar on Sexual Consumerism at Glasgow School of Art

  • Conference Papers (selected)

    April 2014:  Presented paper at 'Feminist Whores? Exploring Feminist Debates Around Violence, Sex Work and Pornography', University of Middlesex

    April 2014:  'Prosecuting Images of BDSM: "Impressive Impacts" and the Obscenity Test', Gorizia Spring School, Italy

    January 2014:  'Now, That's Impact', MeCCSA conference, University of Bournmouth

    November 2013:  'Impressive Impacts and the Obscenity Test', CineExcess

    June 2013:  Panel on 'Technology, Embodiment and Performance' (with Feona Attwood and Allie Carr), Consoling Passions: International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism, De Montfort University

    June 2013:  '"I want Jeames Deen to Deen Me with his Deen": The multi-layered stardom of James Deen' (with Sarah Harman), Revisiting Star Studies, Newcastle University

    June 2013:  '"So sexy it hurts" The Canon? Tru XXX as Paratext' (with Sarah Harman), TV Fangdom: A Conference on Television Vampires, University of Northampton

    April 2013:  'Young People and Pornography: Desire, Identity and Sexual Orientation', BSA Annual Conference, London

    April 2013:  '"So sexy it hurts" The Canon? Tru XXX as Paratext' (with Sarah Harman), Adventures in Textuality: Adaptation in the Twenty-First Century conference, University of Sunderland

    March 2013:  'Legislating Extreme Pornography in the UK', XI MAGIS International Film Studies Spring School, Gorizia, Italy

    November 2012:  'The Breathless Jogger: An Extreme Case in Stafford', The Cultural Mythology of Snuff, University of Bournemouth

    August 2012:  (with Feona Attwood) 'Reframing Porn', American Sociological Association Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado

    July 2012:  'Everyday uses of pornography: findings from the project', Crossroads: Association of Cultural Studies Conference, University of the Sorbonne, Paris

    June 2012:  'Everyday uses of pornography: Young People and pornography', DigiCult 13, University of Salford

    May 2012:  'A Mother’s Love Cannot Be Denied: Ma Mere', CineExcess VI, London

    January 2012:  'Preliminary Findings from the Project', MeCCSA, University of Bedfordshire

    September 2011:  'Listening to the "Users" or: Researching Engagements with Online Pornography', Transforming Audiences 3, University of Westminster

    July 2011:  'It’s not the content, it's how it is produced: labouring over ethics, morals and commerce in porn production', Moral Economies of Cultural Labour Conference, University of Leeds

    June 2011:  'Seedy Strip-Joints and Perverse Porn Circuses', North East Film Regional Film Seminar, University of Sunderland

    May 2011:  'Seedy Strip-Joints and Perverse Porn Circuses: The Aesthetics of the Porn Auteur', CineExcess V, London

    May 2011:  'Studying Pornography: Feminism and Theory', MFTN Event, University of Manchester

    April 2011:  'Creativity and Professionalism in Pornographic Labour' International Labour Process Conference, University of Leeds

    April 2011:  'No Sex Please We’re Local!' Sexual Consumption and the City Conference, University of LeedsFebruary 2011:  'The Erotics of the Facial', Erotic Screen and Sound: Culture Media & Desire Conference, Griffiths University, Brisbane, Australia

    January 2011:  'His Soul Shatters at About 0:23: Self-Scaring and Hyberbolic Shock in YouTube Reaction Videos' (with Julia Kennedy, University College Falmouth), MeCCSA Conference, University of Salford

    January 2011:  'Onscenity Panel', MeCCSA Conference, University of Salford

    December 2010: 'Wallowing in a cesspit of their own making: panic, regulation, men and pornography', Moral Panics in the Contemporary World, Brunel University

    November 2010:  Bodies in Pornographic Performance, The Texts of the Body: Generating Bodies: Discursive Sexed Productions, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain

    June 2010:  'Filled with Excitement: Eva and Her Pornographic Performances', Association for Cultural Studies Conference: Crossroads 2010, Hong Kong

    May 2010:  'Bodies in Pornographic Performance', Cine-ExcessIV: the Fourth International Conference on Global Cult Film, London

    March 2010:  'Pornographic Performances', Film Forum 2010: VIII MAGIS – International Film Studies Spring School, Gorizia, Itay

    November 2009:  '"Do Porn Stars Act?" Talking Dirty: Sex and the Cinema', University of Leeds

    May 2009:  'Five Dominatrices and a Thrashing: the Classification of Sadomasochism', Good Sex, Bad Sex, Budapest, Hungary

    January 2008:  'Authenticity and the Problems of Pornographic Performance', MeCCSA Annual Conference, University of Cardiff

    September 2007:  'I guess they got past their fear of porn, Transforming Audiences: Identity, Creativity, Everyday Life', University of Westminster

    July 2006:  'The Sex Inspectors and the Mundane Realities of Sex', Crossroads, International Conference, Istanbul Bigli University

    July 2006:  Convenor of Sex, Sexuality and the Media Panel at Crossroads International Conference, Istanbul Bigli University

    November 2005:  'Representing Sex on British Television', Media Transformations in a Changing World, School of Journalism and Communication, Wuhan University, China

    September 2005:  'Recycling Dworkin: the pleasures of cut and paste theory', 9th Culture and Power International Conference Recycling Culture, Barcelona, Spain

    July 2003:  'Designed for Pleasure', Design History Conference: Sex Object: Desire and Design in a Gendered World', Norwich School of Art and Design

    July 2002:  'From Oppression to the Jelly Rabbit: Pornography and the Third Wave', Third Wave Feminism Conference, Exeter University

    June 2002:  'No Sex Please We're Local! Regulating Sex in Cornwall', Conference: Controlling Bodies: the Regulation of Conduct 1650-2000, University of Glamorgan

    March 2001:  'Looking at Male Bodies in For Women', Men's Bodies Conference, University of Nottingham

  • Public Engagement (Events)

    2016:  'Sex, Digital Technology and the City', invited public talk, STRELKA, Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow, 27 July.

    2015:  Roundtable discussion at the 'Being a Man' event, London Southbank, 27 November.

    2015:  'Young People and Porn', presetnation at Sexpression event, Newcastle University, 1 November

    2015:  Panel on Pornography, Drift Festival, Amsterdam, 25 April.

    2015:  'In Front of the Children ...' panel at Sick! Festival, Manchester, 8 March.

    2015:  'Prurience' Performance at Sick! Festival, Brighton, 6 March.

    2015:  'Fifty Shades of Grey and Violence against Women', Durham Student Union Feminist Society Debate, 26 February.

    2015:  'Talking about Pornography', Science Museum Lates: Sexuality, 25 Feburary.

    2015:  Fifty Shades of Grey event at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle, 14 February.

    2015:  'Research Pornography' gallery events, Institute of Sexology Exhibition, Wellcome Trust, London, 14–16 January.

    2013:  'Pornography is good for us: Without it we would be a far more repressed society', a debate with Germaine Greer, Anna Span and Robert Lefever, organised by Intelligence Squared, Royal Institute, London, 23 April.

    2012:  Screens as Battle Grounds: Debating the BBFC and Media Regulation Today, British Film Institute, London, 13 November.

    2012:  'Sense About Sex: A public event about sex myths and sex research’part of ESRC Social Science Festival, 6 November.

    2011:  'Happy Bedfellows: Adult Channels and TV', Royal Television Society Debate, Newcastle, 25 October.

    2011:  'Protecting children from commercial and other adult pressures: next steps for policy and business practice', Westminster Media Forum, London, 18 October.

    2011:  Presentation to Adult Industry Trade Association, London, 7 September.

    2011:  'Online Parental Controls’ at Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament, London, 20 June.

  • Public Engagement (Media)

    2015:  Panel member on BBC radio 4's Woman's Hour Live Debate, London Southbank, 7 March

    2013:  Panel member for debate on Newsnight, BBC2, Wednesday 14 August

    2012:  Interviewed with Naomi Wolff on Women’s Hour, Radio 4, Wednesday 5 September

    2012:  Interviewed for article in GQ magazine June 2012 (see synopsis)2011:  Interviewed for an article on the Bailey REview in the Guardian (author Jane Fae)

    2011:  On Radio 4's PM and again on Radio 5's Stephen Nolan Show, 4 June

    2011:  On Radio Shropshire's Jim Hawkins in the Morning, 'Pornography: A problem or a pleasure?', 2 March

    2011:  On Dean Beck's Show on JOY 94.9, 'Porn Research' (Melbourne, Australia), 1 March

    2011:  Took part in a documentary on the 20th anniversary of The Lovers' Guides for Channel 5

    2010:  'What is it with porn?' Attitude magazine, November

    2010:  'Fight Club: Is Pornography Damaging to Society?' The Times Eureka Supplement, 5 August

    2010:  'Corruption' of the Innocent', Times Higher Education, Online edition,, 20 March

    9 March 2008:  'Meet the New Radicals: The Top 30 Women to Watch', Louise France and Eva Wiseman, The Observer, voted number 8 in the list, 9 March

    2008:  'Sex Manuals Still a Guiding Light?' Lisa Scott, Metro, 23 January

    2007:  'Where's the Evidence?' Clarissa Smith, The Guardian's Comment is Free, 24 December

    2007:  Participant on Radio 4's Woman's Hour, 'Women's Relationship with Pornographic Images', part of the 'Sex Lives of Us' season, 19 September

    2007:  'Women who love to watch porn', Lisa Scott, Metro, 13 June

    2007:  Interviewed by Nina Power for an article in New Humanist, 'Naughty by Nice', March/April

    2007:  'The Study of Naked Truths Hits a Brick Wall', Rebecca Attwood, Times Higher Education Supplement, 30 March