Professor of Sexual Cultures
Policy Briefing: Young People and Digital Intimacies
Feona Attwood, Rachel Scott and I have written this briefing, based on our research funded by the Wellcome Trust, to advocate for a broader recognition of young people’s investments in digital intimacies, acknowledging what growing up and learning about sex in the digital age means for young people, in order to inform future policy and practice. Download Young People and Digital Intimacies (.pdf).
In light of the Government’s recent decision to suspend Age Verification and in response to the Online Harms White Paper, we suggest that any future initiatives must engage directly with young people and what they say they need in relation to sex education, sexual health, pornography and digital practices more generally. In summary, we argue for policy that is based on research that puts young people at its centre, and research that can deconstruct the healthy/harmful, good/bad arguments which dominate public debate.
I am co-investigator (with John Mercer at BCU) on the AHRC funded network Masculinity, Sex and Popular Culture which connects academics, early career researchers and students with experts and commentators from outside of academia. The network is intended to explore the issues and debates around contemporary masculinity, sex and sexuality in order to set an ambitious agenda for subsequent research. You can find details at mascnet.org
My own research revolves around issues relating to sex, sexual identities and sexual representations in contemporary culture. John Mercer and I are co-authoring a book on Sexualised Masculinities which should be published in 2020.
Teaching and supervision
My research has focused on the texts and contexts of sexually explicit media and sexual practices and elements of this inform my teaching – including exploration 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 have taught and developed modules including:
Undergraduate: Media Studies, Sexual Cultures, Celebrity Cultures and Children's Television.
Postgraduate: Consumption and Everyday Life, Feminism and Film, Research Methods and Representing Sexualities.
Research interests for potential research students
I welcome enquiries from new doctoral research students in any of my areas of interest, which include subjects relating to pornography and other taboo media. I am also interested in projects examining gendered representations; sexualisation and mediated sexualities; audiences; and censorship.
I am the faculty contact for applications to the ESRC NINE Doctoral Training Partnership.
My research centres on sexual media and representations. I am interested in the textual formations of pornography and how those play out across different technologies; in how people access and engage with pornographic materials and with other forms of sexualized products. I’m also intrigued by constant demands for increasing regulation and censorship.
I have written about the problems of attempts to legislate against pornography and have been active in opposing measures which seek to criminalise the imagination. Alongside this work, I have explored porn-star performances, the meanings of masochism in sexual storytelling, the idea of ‘authenticity’ in pornography, and how audiences speak about the sexual content they like - you can find details of that research at pornresearch.org.
Along with Feona Attwood and Martin Barker, I’m currently writing up the findings from the questionnaire on Game of Thrones – which was hosted at questeros.org.
Scott, Rachel and Smith, Clarissa (2020) What and how: doing good research with young people, digital intimacies, and relationships and sex education. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning (Sex Education). ISSN 1468-1811
Attwood, F and Smith, Clarissa (2019) Engaging with pornography: an examination of women aged 18–26 as porn consumers. Feminist Media Studies.
Smith, Clarissa (2018) Policy, politics and porn. Sexualities, 21 (8). ISSN 1363-4607
Smith, Clarissa, Attwood, Feona and Barker, Martin (2018) ‘I’m just curious and still exploring myself’: Young people and pornography. New Media and Society, 20 (10). pp. 3738-3759. ISSN 1461-4448
Smith, Clarissa and Attwood, Feona (2014) Anti/pro/critical porn studies. Porn Studies, 1 (1-2). pp. 7-23. ISSN 2326-8743
Attwood, Feona and Smith, Clarissa (2014) Porn Studies: an introduction. Porn Studies, 1 (1-2). pp. 1-6. ISSN 2326-8743
Deller, R. A. and Smith, Clarissa (2013) Reading the BDSM romance: Reader responses to Fifty Shades. Sexualities, 16 (8). pp. 932-950. ISSN 1363-4607
Smith, Clarissa and Attwood, Feona (2011) Lamenting Sexualization; Research, Rhetoric And The Story Of Young People's Sexualization In The UK Home Office Review. Journal of Sex Education, 11 (3). pp. 327-337. ISSN 1468-1811
Smith, Clarissa and Attwood, Feona (2011) Special Issue on Young People and Sexual Cultures. Journal of Sex Education, 11 (3). ISSN 1468-1811
Smith, Clarissa (2011) Reel Intercourse: Sex as Special Effect, in Darren Kerr and Claire Hines (eds). Hard To Swallow? Reading Pornography on Screen.
Attwood, Feona and Smith, Clarissa (2011) Investigating young people's sexual cultures: an introduction. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, 11 (3). pp. 235-242. ISSN 1468-1811
Smith, Clarissa and Attwood, Feona (2011) Lamenting sexualization: research, rhetoric and the story of young people's ‘sexualization’ in the UK Home Office review. Sex Education, 11 (3). pp. 327-337. ISSN 1468-1811
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Fight Club: Is Pornography Damaging to Society? Times: Eureka Magazine.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Corruption of the Innocent. The Times Higher Education Supplement.
Smith, Clarissa and Attwood, Feona (2010) Extreme Concern: Regulating 'Dangerous Pictures' in the UK. Journal of Law and Society, 37 (1). pp. 171-188. ISSN 0263323x
Smith, Clarissa and Attwood, Feona (2010) Extreme Concern: Regulating 'Dangerous Pictures' in the UK. Journal of Law and Society.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Extreme Concern: Regulating Dangerous Pictures in the United Kingdom. Journal of Law and Society, 37 (1). pp. 171-88.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Pornographication: A Discourse for All Seasons. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 6 (1). ISSN 1740-8296
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Extreme Concern: Regulating ‘Dangerous Pictures’ in the United Kingdom. Journal of Law and Society Special Issue: Special Issue: Regulating Sex/Work: From Crime Control to Neo-liberalism?, 37. pp. 171-188.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Pornographication: A discourse for all seasons. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, 6 (1). pp. 103-108. ISSN 17408296
Smith, Clarissa (2009) Pleasure and distance: Exploring sexual cultures in the classroom. Sexualities, 12 (5). pp. 568-585. ISSN 1363-4607
Smith, Clarissa (2009) Pleasure and distance: exploring sexual cultures in the classroom. Sexualities, 12 (5). pp. 568-585. ISSN 1363-4607
Smith, Clarissa (2009) Review of Earle and Sharp, Sex in Cyberspace: Men Who Pay for Sex. Feminist Media Studies. ISSN 1468-0777
Smith, Clarissa (2007) Pornography for Women, or What They Don't Show you in Cosmo! Journalism Studies, 8 (4). pp. 529-538. ISSN 1461-670X
Smith, Clarissa (2007) Designed for Pleasure: Style, Indulgence and Accessorized Sex. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10 (2). pp. 167-184. ISSN 13675494
Smith, Clarissa (2002) Shiny Chests and Heaving G-Strings: A Night Out with The Chippendales. Sexualities, 5 (1). pp. 67-89. ISSN 13634607
Smith, Clarissa (2002) Shiny Chests and Heaving G-strings: A Night Out with the Chippendales. Sexualities, 5 (1). pp. 67-89. ISSN 1363-4607
Smith, Clarissa Designed for Pleasure: Style, Indulgence and Accessorized Sex European Journal of Cultural Studies, 2007, Volume 10. Number 2, pp.167-184. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10 (2). pp. 167-184. ISSN 1367-5494
Smith, Clarissa (2017) ‘A Mother’s Love Cannot Be Denied: Ma Mere’. In: Tainted Love: Screening Sexual Perversities. I B Tauris, London, pp. 159-176. ISBN 9781780761954
Smith, Clarissa and Taylor Harman, Sarah (2017) ”I want James Deen to Deen Me with his Deen”: The multi-layered stardom of James Deen. In: Revisiting Star Studies. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 261-278. ISBN 9781474404310
Smith, Clarissa, Attwood, Feona and Barker, Martin (2017) Porn Audiences Online. In: Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication. Peter Lang, New York, pp. 235-244. ISBN 978-1-4331-3956-7
Smith, Clarissa (2016) Sleazy Strip-Joints and Perverse Porn Circuses: The Remediation of Grindhouse Aesthetics in the porn productions of Jack the Zipper. In: Grindhouse: Transcultural Exchange on 42nd Street and Beyond. Bloomsbury, London, pp. 217-235. ISBN 9781628927450
Smith, Clarissa (2016) Pornography. In: The Oxford Handbook of Sex Offences and Sex Offenders. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780190213633
Smith, Clarissa (2016) Breathing New Life into Old Fears: Extreme Pornogrpahy and the Wider Politics of Snuff. In: Snuff Real Death and Screen Media. Bloomsbury, pp. 81-104. ISBN 9781628921144
Smith, Clarissa, Attwood, Feona and Barker, Martin (2015) Queering Porn Audiences. In: Queer Sex Work. Studies in Crime and Society . Routledge, London, pp. 177-188. ISBN 978-0-415-70455-7
Smith, Clarissa, Attwood, Feona and Barker, Martin (2015) Figuring the Porn Audience. In: New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics and the Law. Praeger, Santa Barbara USA, pp. 267-285. ISBN 9781440828058
Smith, Clarissa (2015) Sex and sexuality in British media. In: The Routledge Companion to British Media History. Routledge, London, pp. 133-146. ISBN 9780415537186
Smith, Clarissa (2014) Teenage Kicks: Young People’s Engagements with Pornography, Some Results from Pornresearch.org Questionnaire. ‘Teenage Kicks: Die Auseinandersetzung junger Menschen mit Pornografie, Ergebnisse des pornresearch.org-Fragebogens'’). In: Explizit! Neue Perspektiven zu Pornographie und Gesellschaft. Bertz + Fischer.
Smith, Clarissa (2014) ‘It’s Important You Don’t Smell a Suit On It’: Aesthetics of Alt Porn. In: Porn After Porn. Mimesis, Udine Italy. ISBN 8857523594
Smith, Clarissa and Attwood, Feona (2013) Emotional Truths and Thrilling Slide Shows: The Resurgence of Antiporn Feminism. In: The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure. The Feminist Press New York, New York, pp. 41-57. ISBN 9781558618183
Smith, Clarissa and Kennedy, Julia (2013) ‘His Soul Shatters at About 0:23: Self-Scaring and Hyberbolic Shock in YouTube Reaction Videos’. In: Controversial Images. Palgrave MacMillan, London, pp. 239-253. ISBN 978-0-230-28405-0
Smith, Clarissa (2013) More Sex! Better Sex! Sex is F*cking Brilliant! Sex, Sex, Sex, SEX. In: The Routledge International Handbook of Leisure Studies. Routledge, London, pp. 325-336. ISBN 0415697174
Smith, Clarissa (2012) I guess they got over their fear of porn: women watching porn films. In: Alterimage III: Peep Shows: Essays In Visual Erotica. Wallflower Press, London and New York. ISBN 978-1906660352
Smith, Clarissa (2011) Reel Intercourse: Sex and the Performing Body. In: Hard To Swallow: Reading Pornography On Screen. Wallflower, London. ISBN 978-0-231-16210-4
Smith, Clarissa (2011) Regimes of value and the aesthetics of controversial images. In: Controversial Images. Palgrave Macmillan, UK. (In Press)
Smith, Clarissa (2010) British Sexual Cultures. In: The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780521683463
Smith, Clarissa (2009) Pleasing Intensities: Masochism and Affective Pleasures in Porn Short Fictions. In: Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualisation of Western Culture. I.B. Tauris, London. ISBN 9781845118273
Smith, Clarissa (2005) A Perfectly British Business: Stagnation, Continuities and Change on the Top Shelf. In: International Exposure: Perspectives on Modern European Pornography 1800-2000. Rutgers University Press, pp. 146-172. ISBN 0813535190
Conference or Workshop Item
Smith, Clarissa (2011) The Erotics of the Facial. In: MeCCSA Conference 2011, 12 - 14 Jan 2011, Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Research Centre, University of Salford.
Smith, Clarissa and Kennedy, Julia (2011) His Soul Shatters at About 0:23: Self-Scaring and Hyberbolic Shock in YouTube Reaction Videos. In: MeCCSA 2011, 12 - 14 Jan 2011, School of Media, Music and Performance at the University of Salford..
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Wallowing in a cesspit of their own making: panic, regulation, men and pornography. In: Moral Panics in The Contemporary World, 10 - 12 Dec 2010, Brunel University London.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Sexual Rights, Openess and Regulatory System. In: United Nations Internet Governance Forum, 14-17 Sep 2010, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Problems with Pornographication. In: Onscenity Network Launch Event, 5 Jul 2010, London.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Filled with Excitement: Eva and her Pornographic Performances. In: Association for Cultural Studies Conference: Crossroads 2010, 17 – 21 Jun 2010, Hong Kong.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Pornographic Performances. In: FilmForum 2010 VIII MAGIS International Film Studies Spring School, 19 - 24 Mar 2010.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Pornography and Well-being. In: Deliberative Seminar on the Place of Pornography in Relation to Sexual Health and Well-being, Mar 2010, Edinburgh.
Smith, Clarissa (2010) Bodies in Pornographic Performance. In: Cine-Excess IV: the Fourth International Conference on Global Cult Film, London, 29 Apr -1 May 2010, London.
Smith, Clarissa (2009) Do Porn Stars Act? In: Talking Dirty: Sex and the Cinema, 13 - 14 Nov 2009, University of Leeds.
Smith, Clarissa (2009) Five Dominatrices and a Thrashing: the Classifications of Sadomasochism. In: Good Sex Bad Sex; sex law crime and ethics conference, 4 - 6 May 2009, Budapest, Hungary.
Smith, Clarissa (2008) Extreme Pornography and Discourses of Censorship "On Being an apologist for porn". In: Critical Sexology Seminar, 9 Apr 2008.
Smith, Clarissa (2008) The New Sex Crimes: Electronic Obscenity and Censorship. In: The New Sex Crimes: Electronic Obscenity + Censorship, 19 Jan 2008, ICA, London.
Smith, Clarissa, Werndly, Angela and Richardson, Niall (2013) Studying Sexualities: Theories, Representations, Cultures. Palgrave MacMillan, London. ISBN 9780230220423
Smith, Clarissa, Werndly, Angela and Richardson, NIall (2012) Studying Sexualities: Theories, Representations Cultures. Palgrave Macmillan, UK. ISBN 9780230220430
Smith, Clarissa, Higgins, Michael and Storey, John (2010) Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780521683463
Smith, Clarissa (2009) British Sexual Cultures. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Smith, Clarissa (2007) One for the girls!: the pleasures and practices of reading women's porn. Intellect Books, Bristol. ISBN 9781841501642
Smith, Clarissa, Attwood, Feona and Scott, Rachel (2019) Young People and Digital Intimacies. What is the evidence and what does it mean? Where next? University of Sunderland.
- Sexually explicit media and their audiences
- Sexual practices
- Porn studies
- Popular media representations of gender and sexuality
I am the author of numerous publications relating to sexually explicit media. My research underpins my involvement 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 where I advised the defense and acted 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 have been invited to speak at various public events in the UK and internationally; and to debate pornography including on BBC2's Newsnight programme and in the pages of the Economist.
I am a founder member of the Onscenity Network - an AHRC funded initiative - the network continues to thrive and we are keen to develop further collaborations with colleagues nationally and internationally.
I initiated a large-scale study of audiences engaging with sexual media and am, with Professors Feona Attwood and Martin Barker, currently writing up the results for more than 5000 respondents - some publications are available at pornresearch.org.
I am also a member of the Game of Thrones audience research project Questeros – if you are interested in talking part, you'll find the questionnaire at questeros.org.