Adult Film History SIG

From the earliest decades of the motion picture, there have been films intended for the consumption of “adults only.” For our purposes “adult film” is considered to be time-based visual media with an emphasis on nudity and / or human sexuality that is intended for viewing by adults, recognizing that the term “adult” varies in time and place. Adult film includes, but is not limited to, stag movies, “loops,” art studies, sexploitation films, erotic thrillers, adult video, pornography, sex education films, etc., regardless of production medium (35mm film, videotape, digital video, etc.) or distribution or exhibition context. Adult film has historically been cordoned off from the rest of popular entertainment through censorship, alternative production and distribution channels, separation in physical space, etc., resulting in challenges in its historiography that are seldom confronted in other areas of media history.

Recent years have seen a growth of interest in, and research on, adult film within the field of film and media studies. Monographs, edited collections, special editions of academic journals – and journals themselves – are now devoted to adult film, not to mention panels and workshops at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference and stand-alone conferences. The Adult Film History Scholarly Interest Group (SIG) was formed in 2015 within SCMS to further the area of adult film history. The AFHSIG encourages the exploration of adult film from economic, social, technological, and aesthetic perspectives within the larger context of global entertainment and leisure industries while taking into account local social and political conditions.

The AFHSIG provides a forum for scholars working on adult film history to collaborate, share information and archival sources, debate issues within the field, and promote high caliber research. The AFHSIG will advocate for the archival preservation of adult films and ancillary materials related to them, as well as encourage open access to such material for historians and other researchers. The AFHSIG will also serve as a liaison with scholars from other fields and other professional organizations with an interest in the history of adult film.


  • To serve as a support network for mutually interested historians working on in the field of adult film history;
  • To serve as an information and resource exchange for scholars working in the field through an annual meeting, dialogue via email, and the creation of a website;
  • To act as a site that can begin to bibliographically link micro-histories of adult film by period, topic, subtopic, nationality, methodology, etc.;
  • To support panels and workshops at the annual SCMS conference and to encourage the publication of scholarship in Cinema Journal and other peer-reviewed outlets;
  • To support screenings of historically significant adult films in an academic context;
  • To encourage the archiving of adult films and associated material and open access to qualified scholars;
  • To develop a series of “best practices” in adult film historiography;
  • To serve as a force for legitimizing the historical study of adult film where and when needed

The AFHSIG meets annually at the SCMS meeting.

For more information, contact:

Elena Gorfinkel, co-chair
Senior Lecturer in Film Studies
Film Studies Department
King’s College London

Lynn Comella, co-chair
Associate Professor, Gender and Sexuality Studies
College of Liberal Arts
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Eric Schaefer, founder
Associate Professor
Department of Visual & Media Arts
Emerson College

Peter Alilunas, former co-chair
Assistant Professor
School of Journalism and Communication
University of Oregon