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Cal Poly Professor Publishes Groundbreaking Study on the History of Gay Pornography

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Ruszczycky joined the English
Departmentas part of the CLA's
2017 DEI-Focused Cluster Hire.

Cal Poly Assistant Professor of English Steven Ruszczycky published a groundbreaking book “Vulgar Genres: On Gay Pornographic Writing and Contemporary Fiction” with the University of Chicago Press. 

In the book, Ruszczycky asserts that many in the United States have long misunderstood pornography as either a frivolous pleasure or an obscenity requiring censorship. Through detailed investigation of gay print culture, Ruszczycky shows how that framing prevents our appreciation of pornography’s diverse forms, meanings, and uses. In fact, his book argues, pornography often has had a positive influence on many areas of modern life, including gay culture and classic works of LGBT literature.

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The cover of Ruszczycky's book, "Vulgar Genres: 
On Gay Pornographic Writing and
Contemporary Fiction.

“For better or worse, pornography has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life. I wrote this book to come to terms with that fact, but my point is not that we should appreciate pornography like we appreciate art or literature. Rather, it’s that even trashy culture can teach us important lessons about ourselves, our past, and the world we live in today,” Ruszczycky said.  

 Ruszczycky has been with Cal Poly since 2014. He earned his Ph.D. in 2014 from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He was hired as an assistant professor to the department of English in 2017 as a part of the college’s first DEI-focused cluster hire. At Cal Poly he offers courses in LGBT literature and culture for both the department of English and the department of Women’s, Gender, and Queer Studies. 

Ruszczycky is also the co-editor of “Porn Archives,” published by Duke University Press in 2014, and a co-director of the Central Coast Queer Archive Project, a local documentary project seeking to preserve the history of LGBT+ life on the Central Coast.  

“Vulgar Genres: On Gay Pornographic Writing and Contemporary Fiction” is available in multiple formats from the University of Chicago Press.  

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