Hardcore Curriculum

Film-theory students focus on porn and other fringe fare. But can they get a job?

"There are detriments to researching it, particularly in terms of getting research funding," Gorfinkel adds. "You have to make your case harder than if you were studying something else. The larger debate about whether sexuality itself is a valid area of study is still lingering out there. I haven't been out teaching at the universities, but I am anticipating some resistance to the notion of teaching sexuality in such an explicit way, depending on how conservative the institution is. And that might pose a difficulty in getting a job if I don't diversify my fields of inquiry."

Bowen sees it all as part of a larger cycle, but one that nevertheless contains certain paradoxes: The professional necessities of breaking new ground don't always translate to broad marketability. "Ain't nobody," he says, "gonna get hired into the University of Oklahoma on the basis that they teach porn."

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