Zane in the Highschool Classroom: (12 - Alyssa D. Niccolini): Women and Erotic Fiction, ed. Kristen Phillips

By Laura Vivanco on Monday, 28 December, 2015

Niccolini's essay "draw[s] on data from two focus groups with U.S. high school students aged 14-18 who identify as African American, Black, Afro-Caribbean, and Latina to argue that erotica [...] teaches" (225). She "hone[s] in on the work of Zane and her self-termed erotica noir in relation to this pedagogy as her books were the most widely circulated and intensely beloved by the students I taught" (226).

According to Niccolini

Erotica's pedagogy is a pedagogy of the present. Its knowledge is about what the body is capable of now. This present-centered feeling of "I shouldn't be reading this but I am" traverses a range of affective intensities that fall somewhere between a guilty pleasure, flouting of discipline, exciting transgression and sense of shame. As standardized tests are more and more the horizon for curricula in U.S. schools, a curriculum centered on immediate intensities may offer a temporal relief from an insistence on knowledge being tied to futurity. (228-29)


Niccolini, Alyssa D. "Sexing Education: Erotica in the Urban Classroom". Women and Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets and Readers. Ed. Kristen Phillips. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland 2015. 225-39.

Apparently the students bring the books to school and, often, refuse to put them away even when requested/instructed to do so by the teachers. Niccolini is arguing that this is a positive thing, and not just because she'd rather they read something than nothing at all.

I suppose it's good if the alternative is that the students are non-attentive to the teachers in other ways but I can't help but wonder how much they'll learn overall if all they do is try to read Zane's books. Niccolini doesn't say how much time per day an average student is likely to spend trying to read Zane instead of paying attention to the scheduled lesson so maybe it's only something they do occasionally?