Reinventing Licentiousness draws on previously untapped archives—ranging from police archives and surveys to ephemeral texts and pictures—to assess #pornography in #China as a unique configuration of power and desire that both reflected and shaped historical processes. On the one hand, since the late imperial period, pornography has democratized pleasure in China and opened up new possibilities of imagining desire. On the other, ongoing controversies over pornography's definition and control show how the regulatory ideas of premodern cultural politics and the popular products of early modern cultural #markets have contoured our globalized world. In particular, the book emphasizes the material factors, particularly at the grassroots level of consumption and trade, that governed "proper" sexual desire and led to ideological shifts around the meaning of pornography. By linking the past to the present and beyond, this social and intellectual history showcases circulated pornographic material as a motor for cultural change.