Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Secret Museum: Pornography in Modern Culture by Walter Kendrick, designed by Steve Renick, from University of California Press.
Kendrick treats the history of the concept of pornography from its origins in the Enlightenment period to the “post-pornographic era” of the late 20th century. A central piece of his argument concerns the origins and development of the “Young Person” (a term taken from Dickens) who constitutes the hypothesized and hypostasized audience to be sequestered from pornography. It also treats the bifurcation of “pornography” and “art,” and the emergent and then vanishing textuality of pornography.
The chronology of the original book ends with the Meese Commission report of 1986, and the author’s hope that it spelled a final denoument of the turmoil over pornography in US society. The 1996 afterword opens onto the vista of the Internet, and the renewed conflicts and ambivalence in the American pornographic milieu.
Although furnished with a scholarly apparatus, this book is a lucid, speedy read. It doesn’t have any salacious content; it is written to provoke reflections rather than erections! [via]
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