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Jennifer Lyon Bell

Filmmaker Jennifer Lyon Bell (Blue Artichoke Films) has made empathy the centre of her practice as an alternative porn filmmaker. This blend of artist manifesto and academic essay illuminates the three ways in which empathy is a driving force at every level of her artistic efforts. 1) Structure: Using a foundation of cognitive film theory and specifically the work of Murray Smith, she builds empathy into the structure and content of her films themselves. 2) Production: She prioritises empathy in her production process on the set with cast and crew 3) Society: By creating and spreading empathetic pornography, she aims to introduce more empathy into society at large.

Film Studies
Swedish Sex Education in 1970s London
Adrian Smith

In 1974 the British Board of Film Censors refused to grant a certificate to the Swedish documentary More About the Language of Love (Mera ur Kärlekens språk, 1970, Torgny Wickman, Sweden: Swedish Film Production), due to its explicit sexual content. Nevertheless, the Greater London Council granted the film an ‘X’ certificate so that it could be shown legally in cinemas throughout the capital. This article details the trial against the cinema manager and owners, after the film was seized by police under the charge of obscenity, and explores the impact on British arguments around film censorship, revealing a range of attitudes towards sex and pornography. Drawing on archival records of the trial, the widespread press coverage as well as participants’ subsequent reflections, the article builds upon Elisabet Björklund’s work on Swedish sex education films and Eric Schaefer’s scholarship on Sweden’s ‘sexy nation’ reputation to argue that the Swedish films’ transnational distribution complicated tensions between educational and exploitative intentions in a particularly British culture war over censorship.

Film Studies
The Boom of 1960s–70s Erotic Cinema and the Policing of Young Female Subjects in Japanese sukeban Films
Laura Treglia

The purpose of this article is to analyse the ambivalent politics of looking and discourses of gender, class and sexuality in a variety of 1960s–70s Japanese studio-made exploitation films, known as sukeban films. It first contextualises their production within a transnational and domestic shift emphasising sex and violence in film and popular culture. The article then highlights instances where the visual, narrative and discursive articulation of non-conforming femininities flips the gendered power balance, as in the sketches that satirise men’s sexual fetishes for girls. In conclusion, it suggests to understand the filmic construction of young women’s agency, and their bodily and sexual performance, in terms of a recurring modus operandi of Japanese media that ambivalently panders to and co-constitutes youth phenomena.

Film Studies
Pornography: The Musical (2003)
Catalin Brylla

Brian Hill’s musical documentaries embody the essence of Judith Butler’s notion of ‘performativity’ as the discourse used in identity formation. By asking his characters to sing their stories in addition to traditional interviews, Hill creates multiple screen identities, which elicits an embodied intimacy that is as much about freeing marginalised people to enact themselves in front of the camera as it is about revealing the director’s own performance. This article uses a cognitive framework to explore how Hill’s documentary, Pornography: The Musical (2003), leads the spectator to challenge existing social stereotypes of sex workers, as well as schematic ideas about traditional documentary form and function.

Film Studies
Mattias Frey and Sara Janssen

This introduction to the Film Studies special issue on Sex and the Cinema considers the special place of sex as an object of inquiry in film studies. Providing an overview of three major topic approaches and methodologies – (1) representation, spectatorship and identity politics; (2) the increasing scrutiny of pornography; and (3) new cinema history/media industries studies – this piece argues that the parameters of and changes to the research of sex, broadly defined, in film studies reflect the development of the field and discipline since the 1970s, including the increased focus on putatively ‘low’ cultural forms, on areas of film culture beyond representation and on methods beyond textual/formal analysis.

Film Studies
Daniel Biltereyst

Arguing that limit transgression is a key feature for understanding the cinematic performance of, and the controversy around, sexuality in the public sphere, this contribution focuses on various aspects of limit transgression in relation to sex cinemas. Following a new cinema history approach and concentrating on the case of an emerging sex cinema in postwar Belgium (Cinema Leopold in Ghent, 1945–54), this article looks at various dimensions of limit transgression in terms of concrete physical and spatial relations; programming strategies; audience experiences; and a range of disciplining societal practices and institutional discourses.

Film Studies
Spencer J. Weinreich

Drawing on Maggie Kilgour’s dictum that the Gothic activates a dormant past with the power to harm the present, this article explores the early modern histories invoked by the Regnum Congo, a sixteenth-century account of Africa featured in H. P. Lovecraft’s cannibal story ‘The Picture in the House’. The Regnum Congo taps into Lovecraft’s racism, instantiating, within and beyond the story, the racial and cultural convergence he dreaded. The tale’s cannibal resembles the Africans depicted in the Regnum Congo to a striking degree, even as his reverence for the book colours his putative status as a puritan. Integrating the book itself into the analysis enables a reading of the tale’s controversial cataclysmic ending as oneof several exemplars of Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock’s ‘Gothic thing-power’, which disrupts subject/object boundaries. The multifarious histories summoned by ‘Picture’ reflect Lovecraft’s own ambivalence about the past, as well as the possibilities of attention to Gothic pasts.

Gothic Studies
Kristen J. Davis

The following considers Richard Marsh’s 1897 gothic novel The Beetle in relation to fin-de-siècle anxieties, specifically sexual deviancy, empire, and venereal disease. While the domestic Contagious Diseases Acts had been revealed in the 1880s, continued high rates of VD amongst British soldiers in particular continued the debate as to who was responsible for spreading diseases such as syphilis both at home and abroad. At a time of ‘colonial syphiliphobia’, to extend Showalter’s term, The Beetle suggests the necessity of regulating venereal disease in the Empire to protect Britain’s ‘racial superiority’ and conservatively warns against the potential consequences of dabbling with the sexually ‘deviant’ and dangerous Orient.

Gothic Studies
Claire Nally

Whilst the focus of much criticism has addressed goth as a subculture, considerably less attention has been given to the gendered status of marketing and advertising in subcultural magazines, whilst ‘glossy’ goth magazines have enjoyed little concerted analysis at all. Subcultures are frequently represented by participants and critics as ‘idyllic’ spaces in which the free play of gender functions as distinct from the ‘mainstream’ culture. However, as Brill (2008), Hodkinson (2002) and Spooner (2004) have identified, this is unfortunately an idealistic critical position. Whilst goth men may embrace an ‘androgynous’ appearance, goth women frequently espouse a look which has much in common with traditional feminine values. Slippages between subcultural marketing and mainstream advertising are frequent and often neotraditional in their message regarding masculinity and femininity. In using critiques of postfeminism alongside subcultural theory, I seek to reevaluate how gender functions in these publications. By close inspection of scene representations of ‘goth’ in the twenty-first-century through magazines such as Gothic Beauty (US), Unscene and Devolution (UK), as well as interviews with participants, I argue women’s goth fashion, sexuality and body image often (but not exclusively) represent a hyperfemininity which draws from conventional ideas of womanhood.

Gothic Studies
James Uden

Scholars of eighteenth-century literature have long seen the development of the Gothic as a break from neoclassical aesthetics, but this article posits a more complex engagement with classical imitation at the origins of the genre. In Horace Walpole’s formative Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, his Gothic drama The Mysterious Mother, and in the curiosities in his villa, classical elements are detached from their contexts and placed in startling and strange juxtapositions. His tendency towards the fragmentation of ancient culture, frequently expressed through the imagery of dismemberment, suggests an aesthetic not of imitation, but of collection. Moreover, rather than abandoning or ignoring the classical, Walpole reconfigures literary history to demonstrate elements of monstrosity and hybridity already present in Greek and Roman texts.

Gothic Studies