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Writing American sexual histories

The archive has assumed a new significance in the history of sex, and this book visits a series of such archives, including the Kinsey Institute’s erotic art; gay masturbatory journals in the New York Public Library; the private archive of an amateur pornographer; and one man’s lifetime photographic dossier on Baltimore hustlers. The subject topics covered are wide-ranging: the art history of homoeroticism; casual sex before hooking-up; transgender; New York queer sex; masturbation; pornography; sex in the city. The duality indicated by the book’s title reflects its themes. It is an experiment in writing an American sexual history that refuses the confines of identity sexuality studies, spanning the spectrum of queer, trans, and the allegedly ‘normal’. What unites this project is a fascination with sex at the margins, refusing the classificatory frameworks of heterosexuality and homosexuality, and demonstrating gender and sexual indecision and flexibility. And the book is also an exploration of the role of the archive in such histories. The sex discussed is located both in the margins of the archives, what has been termed the counterarchive, but also, importantly, in the pockets of recorded desire located in the most traditional and respectable repositories. The sexual histories in this book are those where pornography and sexual research are indistinguishable; where personal obsession becomes tomorrow’s archive. The market is potentially extensive: those interested in American studies, sexuality studies, contemporary history, the history of sex, psychology, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, queer studies, trans studies, pornography studies, visual studies, museum studies, and media studies.

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Sara Callahan

In 2004 librarian and scholar Marlene Manoff attempted to survey the then current discussions about archives in an article titled ‘Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines’. 1 In the opening passage of her essay, the author noted: In the past decade historians, literary critics, philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, political scientists, and others have wrestled with the meaning of the word

in Art + Archive
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A must-have accessory of the moment?
Sara Callahan

Archives, it seems, are everywhere, both in popular culture and academic discourse. 1 What isn't an archive these days? Where did it all begin, when will it end? In these memory-obsessed times – haunted by the demands of history, overwhelmed by the dizzying possibilities of new technologies – the archive presents itself as the ultimate horizon of experience. Ethically charged

in Art + Archive
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Sam Rohdie

Archive Jean-Luc Godard tends to break up any pattern or configuration he gives shape to in his films or whose shape he happens to encounter or discover as it is being formed or perceived through the lens of the camera or at the editing table. The images and sounds in Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988–98) are mostly fragments from other unities cut out from an original context and, even if recognisable, something new. Because these elements are so particular, it makes it difficult to say what precisely they represent or what they might signify beyond themselves. Their

in Film modernism
Ariella Azoulay

151 Photographic archives and archival entities 11 Ariella Azoulay We often hear people qualifying photographs as ‘vernacular’, ‘subversive’, ‘official’, ‘propagandistic’ or ‘political’. The use of such adjectives to classify photographs is based on the institutionalisation of one particular mode of photography. Within this framework, photography is approached as a productive practice led by individuals who act as authors. The products these authors generate are conceived as signed and sealed, and can be classified independently of the event in which they

in Image operations
Sara Callahan

A keyword search on the term archive and archival on the online sites of two prominent art magazines ( Artforum and Art Journal ) reveals relatively few references to these terms in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, growing slightly in the 1990s, only to rise sharply from around 2005 onwards with hundreds of hits each year. The increased frequency of references to the archive in these publications is an indication of a wider use of archival terminology in the art field in the early years of the twenty-first century – not only in art magazines

in Art + Archive
Ethical challenges in sharing, researching, and teaching
Daniel Jones

The question of ethics around the use of far-right or extreme material has particular interest when we consider the question of Higher Education Institution–based archives. Not only do these archives support researchers of different types on a regular basis, but they also play an important role in introducing this material into the wider

in The ethics of researching the far right
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David Louis Bowie’s New York diaries, 1978–93
Barry Reay

6 Sex in the archives: David Louis Bowie’s New York diaries, 1978–93 There are some very queer diaries in the not always queer archives of the Manuscripts and Archives Division in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library of the New York Public Library. They are embargoed until 2068, but I was granted special permission to consult them. I have trouble recalling what initially piqued my interest but it must have been the catalogue entry: ‘David Louis Bowie Diaries 1978–1993 .  .  . Illustrated diaries of the daily activities and sexual encounters of a Queens

in Sex in the archives
Sarah Kunz

the International Centre. Ed, British citizen living in The Hague, interview, 2021 The Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) is centrally located in The Hague's Archipelbuurt neighbourhood, with its wide avenues and beautiful late nineteenth-century buildings. Here, down a quiet side street and through a door flanked by roses, visitors are led into the bright and welcoming front room of the archive. This archetypically Dutch facade harbours a trove of

in Expatriate
Open Access (free)
Bryony Dixon

screenable condition. As an archivist at the British Film Institute, I’ll try to explain what survives and why, and some of the really awkward technical, preservation and access problems. I must start with the nature of the collections relating to this period of film history, how they came to be where they are, and what was going on at that time in the international archiving world. The 1950s is a particularly

in British cinema of the 1950s