CFP: Indigenous Obscenities & National Pornographies Panel @ SHARP 2019

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Brian Watson
contact email: 

Call for Papers

Indigenous Obscenities & National Pornographies Panel

SHARP Annual Conference, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA

15 to 19 July 2019

Deadline for CFP: 10-31-2018


As SHARP 2019 descends on Pioneer Valley, the so-called ‘valley of the literate,’ it is important to remember that Massachusetts was the location of perhaps the very first obscene prosecution in the United States. In 1630, William Bradford and his Puritans launched minor war against the neighboring town of Merrymount, particularly offended with its 80-foot tall brightly-colored phallic maypole. The attack, later satirized in Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan, would earn him the lifelong enmity and prosecution of the colony, along with a long stint in a Boston jail.


This was not Massachusetts’ only flirtation with censorship of what they considered obscene (and later, pornographic) material. Massachusetts’ Anthony Comstock-radicalized Watch and Ward Society confiscated and destroyed books, pamphlets and photographs, banned motion pictures and ran theatrical performances straight out of the state. As a result, the phrase ‘Banned in Boston’ would go on to become a catchphrase for anything remotely salacious—and later, badge of pride. Indeed, the last literary censorship case in the United States was over William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch—which was banned in Boston.


As a result, there is no better place to discuss histories of authorship, reading, and publishing of obscene and pornographic material in the United States and abroad. We are particularly interested in research that plays into SHARP’s larger theme of ‘Indigeneity, Nationhood, and Migrations of the Book.’


Topics could include:

  • purity censorship of indigenous material

  • national debates on pornography, obscenity, or erotica

  • histories of sexuality that play into reading, authorship or publishing

  • studies of pornographic migration

  • migration-conversion of pornography into unique formats

  • bibliographical/historiographical studies of pornography, obscenity, or erotica

  • pornographies in the digital world

  • and others.


Please send a 250 word abstract and title, along with a biography of no more than 100 words to Brian Watson at before midnight on 10-31-2018. Submitters will be notified of acceptance by 11-10-2018.