Porn Archives Review


Heather Love wrote a review of Porn Archives for Public Books—it’s titled “Pornography Porn.” You can read the full essay here.

Porn Archives addresses new contexts for the production, distribution, and reception of graphic sexual imagery, and it is focused on questions of archival practices, including collecting, display, circulation, classification, and preservation. Drawing on Walter Kendrick’s The Secret Museum (1987), Dean argues in the introduction that it is archival practice itself—specifically the housing of the erotic artifacts collected in the discovery of Pompeii—that gives rise to the idea of pornography. Given how much of my erotic reading material has been drawn from Library of Congress HQ 76, I appreciated the inclusion of a bibliography of public porn archives, and not one but two essays devoted to library science (one featuring an image of a semen stain on a library copy of Dirty Looks: Women, Pornography, Power [1993]).”

Librarian Wardrobe Interview

I did an interview with Librarian Wardrobe in anticipation of The Librarian Stereotype. You can see the full post here.


Q1: Provide a brief summary of your chapter

My chapter argues that the sexy librarian stereotype emerged at the end of the twentieth century from the confluence between sexual liberation, free speech movements and print pornography. I focus primarily on a series of librarian themed pornographic paperbacks published in the 1970s and 1980s by Greenleaf Classics. These stories, although pretty flimsy plot-wise, tend to be obsessed with the idea of liberating stuffy librarians from the shackles of sexual conservatism. What makes them interesting is that the process of liberation inevitably dramatizes some of the social struggles surrounding obscenity cases and the move to deregulate print materials. 

Keeping an eye on their particular historical context, I think we can see how these pulp novels place librarians at the center of an elaborate fantasy that valued the possibility of a public sex culture. I hope the chapter leaves readers with a complex understanding of the sexy librarian stereotype. The sexy librarian in literature represents sexist devaluations of professional librarians at the same time it values librarians as potential agents for maintaining access to otherwise marginalized sexual knowledge.