The Secret Museum
Pornography in Modern Culture

Kendrick, Walter
Publisher:  Penguin, New York, USA
Year Published:  1988  
Pages:  288pp   Price:  $10.95   ISBN:  0-14-010947-1
Library of Congress Number:  HQ471.K45 1988   Dewey:  363.4'7'09
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3759

Kendrick looks at the idea of pornography since the word was coined a century and a half ago, concentrating less on the books and pictures that have instigated battles over "pornography" than on what people thought and felt about them.

Abstract:  The Secret Museum is about the concept of "pornography". Kendrick looks at the idea of pornography since the word was coined a century and a half ago, concentrating less on the books and pictures that have instigated battles over "pornography" than on what people thought and felt about them. The author shows that the materials in question have varied immensely, but notes that "with surprising uniformity, arguments about `pornography' for the past hundred and fifty years have boiled down to a pair of assertions: `This is pornographic' and `No, it isn't"'. Kendrick goes on to survey many of the major battles and debates over "pornography" over time, through to the attempts to pass anti-pornography legislation in the 1980s, arguing that "the most dismaying aspect of the feminist anti-pornography campaign is its exact resemblance to every such effort that preceded it, from Lord Campbell's and Justice Cockburn's through that of Comstock and all the Societies for the Suppression of Vice, to the modern vigilantism of Leagues and Legions of Decency." The Secret Museum is a provocative look at its subject, with a wealth of historical information and an extensive bibliography. Evaluating the continuing debates through the years, it suggests that "those who feel that no harm is being done are unlikely to form pressure groups in order to advance that view. Contentment and indifference are silent, while fear and outrage bellow; and in the pornography debate, hysteria of the part of a few has traditionally been given free rein by the obliviousness of the many".

[Abstract by Ulli Diemer]


Table of Contents:

Preface to the Penguin Edition
Origins
The Pre-Pornographic Era
Adventures of the Young Person
Trials of the Word
the American obscene
Good Intentions
Hard at the Core
The Post-Pornographic Era

Reference Notes
List of Works Cited
Index

Subject Headings