Students at the University of Iowa are lining up for what promises to be a stimulating educational experience.

Upper-level communication studies course "Critical Pornography Studies" will focus on the role of pornography in pop culture, according to Jay Clarkson, the graduate student spearheading the class. Students will tackle topics like the history of obscenity, attempts to legislate pornography, the feminist debate over porn, and porn's prevalence in the media and U.S. culture.

Clarkson stressed the class is more about research than pornography itself — so don't look for any XXX-rated videos, ahem, popping up in the course. "We will not be viewing X-rated materials in class, nor will the assignments require that students purchase pornographic materials."

Students looking for an easy A or a cheap thrill need not apply, he said. "The course is going to be quite difficult. There will be a lot of reading involved, and students will be required to deal with a very diverse set of perspectives."

The one-time course is part of a larger "Topics in Communication" curriculum that explores different subjects every semester. Clarkson, who is finishing up a dissertation on media studies and gender/sexuality, proposed the course to the faculty.

Not surprisingly, enrollment has already hit its maximum capacity of 20 students, and yes, there is a growing waiting list. "Many of my former students have expressed interest in the class, despite my reassurance that there won't be any [actual] porn in it," he said.

Clarkson said he has received "complete support" from the university. "I think it would be quite difficult to justify ignoring a media industry that makes more money than televised sports and has such a large impact on society," he said. Researchers estimate that the porn industry generates more than $12 billion in the U.S. and $57 billion worldwide each year.

However, not everyone has been so keen on the idea. Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) told The Associated Press he is against spending taxpayer dollars on the elective.

"Don't they know we're not done with their budget yet? I'm pretty sure we don't need to increase state funding by $40 million to teach 'Critical Pornography Studies,' " Rants said.

Clarkson said the speaker's opposition to discussing porn in a public forum is one of the main reasons the course is so important. "I really wish he had contacted me to find out about the course or even read the course description more carefully," he said. "Pornography exists, and merely dismissing it won't make it go away. It is important, in my opinion, to encourage students to think about [something in a way] that is both critical and informed. Isn't that what college is for?"