‘50 Shades of Grey’ Is the Subject of a Course at American University
Sex educator and American University adjunct professor Stef Woods didn’t see “mommy porn” when she first heard buzz about the E.L. James erotic romance bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey at a doctor’s office, where the receptionists, nurse, and doctor were all reading the book. She saw a potential class topic. Having taught college classes on activism and social media and sexuality and social media, Woods found the combination of number of books sold, media hype, and issues related to female sexuality, fan fiction, and social media compelling enough to successfully propose “Contemporary American Culture: The 50 Shades Trilogy,” which she will teach to 25 students starting in January.
“It never crossed my mind to use another book for a case study,” she wrote on her blog, City Girl. The class already has a waiting list, and is filled mostly with senior honors students (22 or 23 of whom, according to Woods, are female). “No other contemporary text on sexuality has transformed American culture the way that this series has,” Woods told student newspaper The Eagle, where, in the comments, she offered an anonymous student commenter the opportunity to sit in on the class.
I certainly hope this university doesn’t charge some obscene tuition fee to take a course in a book that is still maintaining interest (or perhaps curiosity) but when its metaphorical fifteen minutes expire will slide back into obscurity. I am amazed that an adjunct who probably is being paid $3K to teach this course would garner this amount of media attention.
Question: “No other contemporary text on sexuality has transformed American culture the way that this series has[.]” Really? I suppose if you are defining contemporary as referring to the last five or six years that might be the case, but contemporary as a literary term takes us back to at least World War II. Is Stef Woods suggesting that the liberation coming out of the 1960s and the hedonism of the 1980s and the spread of AIDS was not as socially significant as the response to these three books?
And let’s face it, the books are not well written and are designed to appeal to our naughty bits as much as to our intellects … more so, probably. A sociologically significant study might better phrase the course objective to be, What is wrong with sexuality today that has women bothering to read such trash? Mommy porn is not knew; this one just doesn’t have Fabio on the cover.
And another problem: I hear this is soft-core porn … what a waste of time. When are we going to get some decently written hard-core porn?