Leonie Zilch, Exam., B.A.

Universitätsstr. 105
44780 Bochum
Room: UNI 105, 3/26

Phone: +49 (0) 234/32-27283
E-Mail: leonie.zilch@rub.de

Title of the Dissertation

Arousing Documents: Pornographic Films and How we Read Them

Project Description

In 1991, Christian Hansen, Catherine Needham and Bill Nichols noted a “documentary impulse” (Hansen et al., 1991, p. 211) in porn movies. For almost 20 years, almost nobody paid heed to their observation. Now, with the rise of amateur pornography, live-webcam-sex, and the inclusion of interviews and behind-the-scenes material, the question concerning the “documentary impulse” of pornographic images reemerges. Especially in feminist and queer pornography, this documentary gesture is intertwined with the idea of authentic representation. Some porn scholars claim that the line between “pornographic performance and documented reality” (Scott, 2016, p. 120) is currently blurred. In my dissertation project, I want to investigate the documentary gesture of contemporary pornographies by analyzing feminist and queer pornography, as well as mainstream (primarily gonzo movies) and amateur pornography.

Hansen, Christian; Needham, Catherine; Nichols, Bill (1991): “Pornography, Ethnography, and the Discourse of Power”. In: Bill Nichols (Ed.): Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press, pp. 201–228.

Scott, Karly-Lynne (2016): “Performing labour. Ethical spectatorship and the communication of labour conditions in pornography”. In: Porn Studies 3 (2), pp. 120–132.


Scholarly Career

  • Since 10/2016: Doctoral Student Member of the DFG Graduate Research Group on “Documentary Practices. Excess and Privation”, Ruhr-University Bochum
  •  04/2016 to 09/2016: Student assistant in Media Studies for Jun. Prof. Dr. Florian Sprenger and Dr. des. Jana Mangold, Goethe-University Frankfurt.
  •  10/2012 to 09/2016: Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Film and Media Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt.
  •  10/2015 to 07/2016: Training course “Buch- und Medienpraxis”, Goethe University Frankfurt.
  •  04/2012 to 03/2016: Student assistant at the Bibliothek für Jugendbuchforschung (Library for Studies of Literature for Children and Young Persons), Goethe University Frankfurt.
  •  10/2010 to 10/2015: Study of German and Philosophy for certification as secondary teacher, Goethe University Frankfurt. Thesis: On the Aesthetic of Feminist Pornography.



  • Talking sex in mainstream and alternative pornographies, 30 July 2017 at the NECS conference 2017 „Sensibility and the Senses“, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3
  • Arousing Documents – pornographic films and how we read them, Graduate Workshop “Queer Temporalities and Media Aesthetics” from April 24 to 30 April 2017, Northwestern University, Chicago IL
  • „Was ist feministische Pornografie?“, 05 July 2015 at the „Studentischen Konferenz TFM“, Goethe University Frankfurt

University Courses

  • Summer term 2016: Autonomous tutorial „Schlampe, Mutter, Erlöserin – Frauenrollen im Horrorfilm“, Faculty 10, Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt.
  • Winter term 2015/16: Autonomous tutorial „Feministische Pornografie – ein Oxymoron?“, Faculty 10, Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt.