Student-Cum-Porn-Star Lectures At University, Blows Minds

A porn star? Giving college lectures?

I'm sorry, I don't mean to poke fun or give him a hard time (because he's received enough stiff criticism) but feminist writer and gender studies professor Hugo Schwyzer found himself in a bit of rub at his university for inviting a former-student-cum-porn-star to guest lecture about pornography on his campus at Pasadena City College. Schwyzer's humanities class, titled, "Navigating Pornography" is meant to be a study of porn itself.

"We talk about feminist porn and the question of whether porn demeans women; we talk about issues of sex work and consent; we talk about the difference between entertainment and education," said Schwyzer via email.

The guest speaker, porn star/alum James Deen, spouted his thoughts and experience of inside the porn industry.

Not everyone was excited to get a load of James Deen, including the administration and several faculty members. Their beef was with the possibility of protesters and media circus surrounding the big event. In fact, they closed the lecture to the public and limited it to students only.

So why James Deen? What does a porn star have to offer in the way of academia? (I ask the hard questions, you're welcome.)

"Well, I teach a course that looks at porn from a variety of perspectives. And one perspective we want is from the performers themselves," Schwyzer told me.

When pressed if he gives the students porn homework, Schwyzer said, "Yes, I give the students porn homework -- specific clips or images to watch on their own time and analyze. I always, always make sure that they have an alternate assignment; it is possible to earn an A in my class and never watch a minute of porn."

So is there a place for porn in academia? In my personal opinion, there is, but finding adult film stars themselves with something academic to offer seems like a tall order. I mean, they can't all be Dylan Ryan. When I think of a porn star talking, I think of Chicago's best:

There's nothing wrong with talking about gender issues within a pervasive genre of film, but asking an adult film star to contribute to an academic discussion seems like it could veer to the salacious. I studied many types films in college and I don't recall many of the film actors contributing to discussions. Maybe it was because they were usually dead! It just seems to me like actors are to films like models are to fashion. They carry the weight of execution, but if you want to know about the art and cultural implications of the Marc Jacobs line, you don't ask the 18-year-old runway model, you ask Marc Jacobs.

Let's be pearl-clutching parents for a moment as well. Would you be happy spending tuition for your (adult!) child's education only to find out she is listening to guest lectures from adult film stars and being assigned pornography clips to watch?

I must be wrong though because due to the success of this lecture, Schwyzer (who I think is awesome, by the way) has a full schedule planned for more porn star guest speakers.

After Wednesday's event, Schwyzer thanked the college authorities, media and his students on his blog, "as well as James and his very accommodating and flexible team."

It sounds like a smash!

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