Reading the Fifty Shades Phenomenon

I’m afraid I’m breaking my radio silence with a piece of shameless self promotion. The latest issue of Sexualities journal is out today, which is a special issue on Fifty Shades co-edited by myself, Sarah Harman and Ruth Deller.


The issue is open access until March and is available at

The blurb from Sage’s website reads:

Since their release in paperback in the spring of 2012, the Fifty Shades trilogy by British author E.L. James have generated enormous interest both in terms of sales and public debate. The novels blend a somewhat conventional romantic narrative with sexual passages that have a BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, Masochism) flavour. They quickly became bestsellers, topping the New York Times bestsellers list on eBook sales alone. Their success led to a range of similar titles being marketed in their wake. It is suggested this heralded a ‘revolution’ of women downloading erotic eBooks.

The interest in the books as a phenomenon arose from the backgrounds of the authors of this issue as academics with an interest in studying media, sexual cultures, gender, literature and audiences. The articles presented in this special issue ( represent a range of responses to the series. Contributors come from a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, literature, law, religious studies, geography, media and cultural studies. The contributions explore three significant areas of study: the texts themselves; the responses of different reader communities to these books; and the series’ relationship to wider debates about sexuality within culture.

This is the first journal I’ve co-edited, and I’ve found it a really worthwhile experience. Working with Sarah and Ruth as my co-editors really helped, and having such a great range of contributors, all of whom were really excited about the project and eager to see it published, made the experience that much more enjoyable. I’d like to say a big thank you to them, and to Sage who took this issue on and got it out quickly for us. I hope you find it interesting, and I look forward to many discussions!


2 thoughts on “Reading the Fifty Shades Phenomenon

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