Erotica (from the Greek Eros - "desire") or "curiosa," works of art, including literature, photography, film, sculpture and painting, that deal substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing descriptions. Erotica is a modern word used to describe the portrayal of the human anatomy and sexuality with high-art aspirations, differentiating such work from commercial pornography.Pornography - MSN Encarta "Curiosa" is generally used to refer to erotica and pornography as discrete, collectible items, usually in published or printed form.
Various sub-genres of erotica exist. As with fiction as a whole, there are erotic stories with a science fiction, fantasy, horror or romance focus. Additionally, erotica can also focus on specific sexual behavior or fetishes such as BDSM, wearing uniforms, cross-dressing, polygamy and sexual promiscuity. Fan fiction featuring characters engaging in male homosexual acts has become known as slash fiction.
Distinction is often made between erotica and pornography (as well as the lesser known genre of sexual entertainment, ribaldry), although depending on the viewer they may seem one in the same. Pornography's objective is the graphic depiction of sexually explicit scenes. Pornography is often described as exploitative or degrading. Erotica, on the other hand, seeks to tell a story with sexual themes. It attempts to explore desire through mystery and intrigue.
In December of 2007 one of the world's largest collections of pornography and erotica, the ''L'Enfer collection'' housed at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France, was opened for the public. Marie-Franoise Quignard, one of the collection's curators, tried to distinguish between the different elements in the collection:
"There is a photograph of an act of oral sex by the artist Man Ray.... For some reason, I find that this goes just too far. Perhaps because it is a photograph and so real, while engravings or lithographs, give you a certain distance and idealisation. Man Ray confronts you point-blank here with something which should, perhaps, better remain intimate."
The Canadian Supreme Court wrestled with the line between pornography and erotica going back to 1962's case Brodie v. the Queen, which involved D. H. Lawrence's erotic classic ''Lady Chatterley's Lover''. In its decision on whether Lawrence's book was obscene, the court noted that it "has none of the characteristics that are often described in judgments dealing with obscenity --dirt for dirt's sake, the leer of the sensualist, depravity in the mind of an author with an obsession for dirt, pornography, an appeal to a prurient interest, etc." In 1992, the Canadian high court changed its 'dirt for dirt's sake' test until it ruled in the case of sex shop operator R. v. Butler that a work is pornographic if it is "degrading and dehumanizing." According to the order, pornography is a detailed image of coitus and naked genitals for sexual stimulation without any artistic or educating aims. For an image to be considered erotica, the number of images can not exceed 20 percent of the total, nor 50 percent of the whole of an image. Erotica is a portrayal "without open visualization of genital interaction". Pornography, according to the national expert commission, is a portrayal of group and homosexual intercourse, scenes of sexual violence and/or sexual perversions.
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