Selling Sex on Screen: From Weimar Cinema to Zombie Porn

9781442253537: Selling Sex on Screen: From Weimar Cinema to Zombie Porn

Whether in mainstream or independent films, depictions of female prostitution and promiscuity are complicated by their intersection with male fantasies. In such films, issues of exploitation, fidelity, and profitability are often introduced into the narrative, where sex and power become commodities traded between men and women.

In Selling Sex on Screen: From Weimar Cinema to Zombie Porn, Karen A. Ritzenhoff and Catriona McAvoy have assembled essays that explore the representation of women and sexual transactions in film and television. Included in these discussions are the films Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eyes Wide Shut, L.A. Confidential, Pandora’s Box, and Shame and such programs as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gigolos. By exploring the themes of class differences and female economic independence, the chapters go beyond textual analysis and consider politics, censorship, social trends, laws, race, and technology, as well as sexual and gender stereotypes.

By exploring this complex subject, Selling Sex on Screen offers a spectrum of representations of desire and sexuality through the moving image. This volume will be of interest not only to students and scholars of film but also researchers in gender studies, women’s studies, criminology, sociology, film studies, adaptation studies, and popular culture.

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About the Author:

Karen A. Ritzenhoff is professor in the Department of Communication at Central Connecticut State University. Ritzenhoff is the coeditor of Heroism and Gender in War Films (2014) with Jakub Kazecki; Border Visions: Diaspora and Identity in Film (2013) with Jakub Kazecki and Cynthia J. Miller; Screening the Dark Side of Love: From Euro- Horror to American Cinema (2012) with Karen Randell; and Sex and Sexuality in a Feminist World (2009) with Katherine Hermes. In 2011, she also coedited a special media journal, Augenblick: Images of the Iraq War (with Angela Krewani).

Catriona McAvoy is a filmmaker based in London. She runs a digital onset and lab services company, She wrote a chapter in the book Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives (2015) and interviews with cast and crew in Studies in the Horror Film: The Shining Vol. 1 & 2 (2015), as well as an article in the forthcoming “Kubrick and Adaptation” special issue in the journal Adaptation (2015).


Elusive and beguiling, the image of the woman whose body may be bought has permeated film culture since the silent era. Selling Sex on Screen, in a rich collection of penetrating studies, demonstrates how pervasive the motif is and how diverse its manifestations within the motion picture and television industries of evolving capitalist societies. (Russell Campbell, author of Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema)

Selling Sex on Screen: From Weimar Cinema to Zombie Porn gathers together a range of fascinating essays that deal in various ways with the buying and selling of sex on screen. Contributors to this highly engaging collection give us fresh and timely insights about the representation of sex and sexuality, making crucial connections between these screen representations and wider historical, social and political issues and debates about power, gender, consumerism and status, making this a must read for anyone interested in the politics of the media. (Dr. Claire Hines, Senior Lecturer, Southampton Solent University)

Given cinema’s persistent need to tame, ridicule, and marginalize more intense expressions of female sexuality, Selling Sex on Screen compels us to question the clichés of redemption attached to prostitution. Ritzenhoff and McAvoy’s collection of essays is compelling—tapping into the shadows of sexual agency to explore how the lived experience and its representation on screen both overlap and create a sense of discord. This is a terrific read for anyone interested in the complexities of unapologetic female characters and the men who struggle to accept their autonomy. (Dr. Terrie Waddell, author of Eavesdropping: The Psychotherapist in Film and Television (2014))

From Weimar-era street films to zombie porn, this fascinating, provocative, and highly readable volume tracks a neglected figure in film and TV studies: the “marked” woman. Surveying streetwalkers, saloon girls, sex addicts, and strippers, the essays collected by Ritzenhoff and McAvoy chart with nuance and precision the shifting intersections between sex, money, gender, and power on screen in a variety of cultural contexts. Selling Sex on Screen is guaranteed to get readers thinking about the “world’s oldest profession” in new ways, and to put familiar movies and television programs in a fresh and surprising light. (Ian Olney, author of Euro Horror: Classic European Horror Cinema in Contemporary American Culture, York College)

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