Nov 2 | Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation Cinema

Thursday, November 2, 2017, 6:30pm-9:00pm, room 9204
Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation Cinema

Featured speaker: Elena Gorfinkel

The Film Studies Certificate Program is delighted to welcome Dr. Elena Gorfinkel (King’s College, London), who will present from her new book, Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation Cinema in the 1960s (Minnesota 2017).

One of the most fascinating phenomena of 1960s film culture is the emergence of American sexploitation films of the 1960s—salacious independent films made on the margins of Hollywood. Hundreds of such films were produced and shown on both urban and small-town screens over the course of the decade. Yet despite their vital importance to the film scene, and though they are now understood as a gateway to the emergence of publicly exhibited hardcore pornography in the early 1970s, these films have been largely overlooked by scholars. Lewd Looks recovers a lost chapter in this history.

Defined by low budgets, quick production times, unknown actors, strategic uses of nudity, and a sensationalist obsession with unbridled female sexuality, sexploitation films provide a unique window into a tumultuous period in American culture and sexual politics. Gorfinkel examines the social and legal developments that made sexploitation films possible: their aesthetics, their regulation, and their audiences. In an illustrated talk, Gorfinkel will share from this research, exploring the ways sexploitation films changed how spectators encountered and made sense of the sexualized body and set the stage for the adult film industry of today.

Elena Gorfinkel is senior lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. She is author of Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation Cinema in the 1960s (Minnesota 2017), and co-editor of Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image (Minnesota, 2011) and Global Cinema Networks (Rutgers, 2018). Her writing on embodiment, sexuality, labor, temporality and marginal cinemas have appeared in numerous journals and edited collections.