Every year publishers, booksellers, librarians, journalists, educators and readers of all types join together to celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual event highlighting the value of free and open access to information and the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those considered unorthodox or unpopular. This year, The American Association of University Presses has chosen to highlight the theme of diversity in publishing.
While targeted books most often include some aspect of sex, sexuality or gender identity, any celebration of minority cultures or non-conformity may be seen as threatening. It is Duke University Press’s mission to share the ideas of bold, progressive thinkers and
support emerging and vital fields of scholarship—even scholarship that may be controversial. Although we don’t know which of our books may have been challenged when acquired by libraries or used in university courses, here are a just a few of many titles that we suspect would be at the top of a censor’s list.
Porn Archives, by Tim Dean, Steven Reszczycky and David Squires – While sexually explicit writing and art have been around for millennia, pornography—as an aesthetic, moral, and juridical category—is a modern invention. The contributors to Porn Archives explore how the production and proliferation of pornography has been intertwined with the emergence of the archive as a conceptual and physical site for preserving, cataloguing, and transmitting documents and artifacts.
A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography, by Mireille Miller-Young – A Taste for Brown Sugar boldly takes on representations of black women’s sexuality in the porn industry. It is based on Mireille Miller-Young’s extensive archival research and her interviews with dozens of women who have worked in the adult entertainment industry since the 1980s. The women share their thoughts about desire and eroticism, black women’s sexuality and representation, and ambition and the need to make ends meet.
Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, by Alexis Pauline Gumbs – In Spill, self-described queer Black troublemaker and Black feminist love evangelist Alexis Pauline Gumbs presents a commanding collection of scenes depicting fugitive Black women and girls seeking freedom from gendered violence and racism. In this poetic work inspired by Hortense Spillers, Gumbs offers an alternative approach to Black feminist literary criticism, historiography, and the interactive practice of relating to the words of Black feminist thinkers.
Queer Cinema in the World, by Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt – Proposing a radical vision of cinema’s queer globalism, Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt explore how queer filmmaking intersects with international sexual cultures, geopolitics, and aesthetics to disrupt dominant modes of world making.
A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation, by Tan Hoang Nguyen – A View from the Bottom offers a major critical reassessment of male effeminacy and its racialization in visual culture. Examining portrayals of Asian and Asian American men in Hollywood cinema, European art film, gay pornography, and experimental documentary, Nguyen Tan Hoang explores the cultural meanings that accrue to sexual positions. He shows how cultural fantasies around the position of the sexual “bottom” overdetermine and refract the meanings of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality in American culture in ways that both enable and constrain Asian masculinity.
And don’t forget our ground-breaking journals ripe with images and discussion of sex, sexuality and gender identity.
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly – Over the past two decades, transgender studies has become fertile ground for new approaches to cultural analysis. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly offers a high-profile venue for innovative research and scholarship that contest the objectification, pathologization, and exoticization of transgender lives.
GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies – Providing a much-needed forum for interdisciplinary discussion, GLQ publishes scholarship, criticism, and commentary in areas as diverse as law, science studies, religion, political science, and literary studies. Its aim is to offer queer perspectives on all issues touching on sex and sexuality.