After last week’s post, I decided to further explore the “rabbit hole” of porn in the archives. In “Digital Archives and the History of Pornography,” Sarah Bull argues that porn historians must “become archival magpies” to glean information on “authorship, material production, and consumption” (402). Mixed animal metaphors aside, Bull casts digital technologies as a tool through which historians can – in a sense – accession, process, trace the provenance of, and publicize their materials. Historians can act as historiographers and amateur archivists.
These symbiotic roles beg the question – why/how are historians of taboo/obscure topics (e.g., pornography) forced to chase down either seemingly nonexistent materials or riffle through unidentified primary sources? Why/how have our social stigmas, cultural norms, and political regulations (e.g., homophobia, Puritan ethics, censorship) shaped the way we compile and organize our archives?