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The Allusionist

161 EpisodesProduced by Helen ZaltzmanWebsite

Adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman.

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116. My Dad Excavated A Porno

The word ‘pornography’ arrived in English in the 1840s so upper class male archaeologists could talk about the sexual art they found in Pompeii without anyone who wasn’t an upper class male archaeologist knowing about it. Even though, at the same time, Victorian England was awash with what we’d now term pornography.

Dr Kate Lister of Whores of Yore and pornography historian Brian Watson of explain the history of the word, and how the Victorian Brits dealt with material that gave them stirrings in their trousers. Sorry, ‘sit-down-upons’. ‘Inexpressibles’! If they couldn’t even express trousers, it’s little wonder they struggled to cope with pornography.

Content note: though the episode is educational and thoroughly untitillating - I know, I know, what a disappointment - the nature of the topic is such that the episode may not be suitable for all audiences or circumstances.

Find out more about this episode, the subject matter and the interviewees, at

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I will be donating all ad revenue from this episode to organisations fighting systemic inequality and police brutality towards Black people.

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