Curatorial Vision

Our undergraduate class of English 434w on the Sexual Archives of the Other Victorians collaborated on this digital exhibit dedicated to sharing emerging perspectives on Authorship & Readership in Victorian Pornography.  We have diverse backgrounds in English, Communications, Gender Studies, History, Publishing, French, Legal Studies, and Biology/Health Sciences, but we share a common interest in Victorian literature and Digital Humanities, as well as the study of pornography from queer intersectional and cultural perspectives. A number of us also welcomed the opportunity to collaborate.

Emerging perspectives from 15 different people are gathered here. Our exhibit is the result of a collaborative curatorial process. Over 13 weeks, we deliberated over the exhibition theme and our curatorial principles. We also peer-reviewed and peer-curated the exhibition content, choosing critical artifacts that struck us as most insightful and pertinent to the exhibit theme. The process was iterative, cumulative, and consensus based, and organized around the following guidelines:

  • We will approach our peer’s ideas with respect, even in cases where we might disagree.
  • We will approach this exhibition with critical reflection and sensitivity, recognizing the sometimes sensitive nature of the material.
  • We acknowledge that some of this material may be triggering for some of us, and also potential users.
  • When discussing difficult topics, there is need to contextualize and provide rigorous commentary.

Archiving and exhibiting critical commentary on pornographic materials requires more thoughtful reflection about purpose and process. The transgressive and affective qualities of pornography challenge easy celebrations of archival recovery, preservation, and access (Dean; Arondekar). Alongside our investigations into the dynamic print culture of Victorian pornography, we have grappled with these questions through a process that has been called social knowledge creation (Arbuckle and Christie; Arbuckle et al). Our making of this exhibit has cultivated critical thinking about how and why we bring the practices of archiving, curation, and exhibition to the pornographic culture of the so-called ‘Other Victorians.’

Our exhibit explores the topic of Authorship and Readership in Studies of Victorian Pornography with breadth and depth. We examine concepts, practices, and processes of authorship and readership specific to the production and consumption of Victorian pornography — both in the period through to the present day. Through a diverse range of methods, from textual to computational, we also build new knowledge about this print culture, introducing emerging perspectives about how Victorians made and used pornography and why this continues to interest us today.

Works Cited

Arbuckle, Alyssa, and Alex Christie. “Intersections Between Social Knowledge Creation and Critical Making.” Scholarly and Research Communication 6.3 (2015): 13 pp. Web.
Arbuckle, Alyssa, Belojevic, Nina, Hiebert, Matthew, Siemens, Ray, et al. “Social Knowledge Creation: Three Annotated Bibliographies.” Scholarly and Research Communication 5.2 (2014): 120 pp. Web.
Arondekar, Anjali. “Archival Attachments: The Story of an India-Rubber Dildo.” For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India. Duke University Press, 2009. 97-130.
Dean, Tim. “Pornography, Technology, Archive.” Porn Archives. Eds. Tim Dean, Steven Ruszczycky, and David D. Squires. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. 1-26.


This exhibit is created by Colette Colligan & English 434w (August 2016), with technical assistance from Mariella Ocampo.
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License