Skip navigation

Professor Clarissa Smith


Department: Arts

Clarissa Smith

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 fascinated by seemingly 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.

Recent publications: 

Watching Game of Thrones - an examination of audience responses to the HBO series to be published by Manchester University Press and co-authored with Martin Barker and Feona Attwood.

Objectification On the Difference between Sex and Sexism (Gender Insights) will be published by Routledge in August 2020. Authored with Susanna Paasonen, Feona Attwood, Alan McKee, and John Mercer, the book traces the history of the emergence and use of objectification in a variety of contexts such as debates about sexualization and the male gaze, and its mobilization in connection with the body, selfies and pornography, as well as in feminist activism.

I am a founding co-editor of the Routledge journal Porn Studies, a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Gender Studies, of Sexualities, of Cine-Excess and of Participations

I am co-investigator with Professor John Mercer, Birmingham City University (PI) on the Masculinity, Sex and Popular Culture research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The network connects academics, early career researchers and students as well as experts and commentators from outside of academia. Together we will explore the issues and debates around contemporary masculinity, sex and sexuality in order to set an ambitious agenda for subsequent research. You can see what the network is up to at our website

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Sexting among British adults: a qualitative analysis of sexting as emotion work governed by ‘feeling rules’, Macdowall, W., Reid, D., Lewis, R., Bosó Pérez, R., Mitchell, K., Maxwell, K., Smith, C., Attwood, F., Gibbs, J., Hogan, B., Mercer, C., Sonnenberg, P., Bonell, C. 2 May 2023, In: Culture, Health and Sexuality
  • Online Sexual Partner Seeking as a Social Practice: Qualitative Evidence from the 4th British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-4), Reid, D., Macdowall, W., Lewis, R., Hogan, B., Mitchell, K., Bosó Pérez, R., Gibbs, J., Smith, C., Attwood, F., Mercer, C., Sonnenberg, P., Bonell, C. 13 Oct 2022, In: Journal of Sex Research
  • Putting Porn Studies (back) into Porn Literacy, Smith, C. 1 Jul 2021, In: Synoptique
  • Sexual objects, sexual subjects and certified freaks: rethinking ‘objectification’, Attwood, F., Smith, C., McKee, A., Mercer, J., Paasonen, S. 14 Jun 2021, In: MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture
  • Watching Game of Thrones: How Audiences Engage with Dark Television , Barker, M., Smith, C., Attwood, F. 1 Apr 2021

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Invited talk: Humour, Pathos, and Provocation: Deconstructing Adult Material and Its Contradictions 2023
  • Invited talk: Shifting Narratives: Pornography, Politics and Power 2023
  • Invited talk: Authenticity in Feminist Pornography 2021
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Deplatforming Sex 2021
  • Invited talk: Men in Movement, V: Masculinities and Feasible Futures 2021
  • Invited talk: Sansa & Ramsay Audience Reactions 2021
  • Invited talk: The Future of Masculinities 2021
  • Oral presentation: Critical Studies in Television Slow Covid-Safe Conference 2021 2021
  • Invited talk: Digital intimacies: What increasing visibility online means for young people’s privacy, relationships, and safety 2021
  • Invited talk: Porn Literacy Without Porn Studies 2019

  • Leonard Collin Changing Perceptions of Disability Through Film Practice Start Date: 01/10/2021 End Date: 20/04/2023
  • Karis King Sex and Sexuality in British Television Documentary (2013—present) Start Date: 01/10/2022
  • Mathilde Friis The Body as Product: Artistic Self-Expression and Autonomous Pornographers in the age of Onlyfans Start Date: 01/10/2022
  • James Anderson Punk, Porn, & Politics: The Aesthetics of Radical Sexualities Start Date: 01/10/2020 End Date: 26/07/2022

Philosophy DPhil July 01 2002

Our Staff

a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

NU World

Explore NU World

Find out what life here is all about. From studying to socialising, term time to downtime, we’ve got it covered.

Latest News and Features

Graduates Abbie Smith and Frankie Harrison.
Northumbria student Saffron Sinclair being presented her award by Mark Dale, Principle Consultant at Nigel Wright Recruitment.
Henry Kippin
Cally Taylor
Eva Szewczyk grad and career success v2 180624   ES
More news

Back to top