Sunderland sex expert lifts the lid on the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy

Professor Clarissa Smith
Professor Clarissa Smith
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A WEARSIDE academic is set to lift the lid on one of the most controversial books for recent times.

In 2012, E L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy became the fastest-selling books of all time, with sales topping 70 million copies worldwide.

Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures at the University of Sunderland, will be presenting her free talk: “A Nice Girl’s Nasty Book”: Reading the readers of Fifty Shades of Grey, on Monday at 5.30pm in the David Puttnam Media Centre at the riverside campus.

Professor Smith said the media storm around the trilogy was based around assumptions about genre fiction, and the debates as to the good and bad effects of its mainstreaming sexual practices such as bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

However, she said very little of the discussion drew upon readers’ voices and argues that people who read the books had complex, and often contradictory, responses to the novels.

She said: “For these readers, the acts of reading and discussing the novels offer a range of pleasures and displeasures, from erotic enjoyment to the amusements of critique, from self-gratification to participation in cultural commentary. “The Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena offers a fascinating insight into the complex and contradictory pleasures of popular novels.”