May 1, 2014

about the Kinsey Institute films, access to, and uses of

Question:  What should the Kinsey Institute do with its films?

Read: Linda Williams, "‘White Slavery’ versus the Ethnography of ‘Sexworkers’: Women in Stag Films at the Kinsey Archive,” The Moving Image 5.2 (2006): 106-35.

Does withholding a study copy of the film called KKK Night Riders constitute a violation of principled archival practice? Or is the Kinsey Institute Film Archive justified in keeping some items in its collection out of circulation, or out of the possession of a esearcher? Who has the better argument, the scholar or the archivist? Should institutions put restrictions on access to some items and not others? What kind/s of access are possible? wise? How is the Kinsey different from other archives? Should curators and archivists make restrictions on a case-by-case basis, or is there a general principle or policy that should apply? Should some types of users be given special privileges, while other types of users are denied access? What other information about this case would you want to know before finalizing your side of the argument?

Prepare for a debate in which you either defend or refute this resolution:

Resolved: The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University should make the works in its Film Archive more accessible to researchers.

Prepare by not only reading the article, but clarifying for yourself the facts of the case. Build your arguments from those facts, as well as from general principles.

Williams ends her essay by asserting:

Scholars and students should be able to screen and study the history of stag films through the greater access to the Kinsey collection. It is no longer enough to be able to view stag films on Kinsey Institute premises at Indiana University in private screenings. The stag film heritage needs the collaboration of scholars and archivists to preserve and study a body of work that has been far too long neglected.
We will conclude by stepping out of debate mode to pose the question differently: Might “the collaboration of scholars and archivists” resolve the access dilemma? If so, what form should this collaboration take? What would it accomplish beyond simply giving access?

Finally, we will discuss a bigger issue: preservation. Since the Kinsey Institute Film Archive houses more than 4,000 films (not including video), what should it do with them? Come prepared to offer at least one idea for the director of the Kinsey Institute.


Some links about the Kinsey Institute films, access to, and uses of:

* The Kinsey Institute Film Archive and access policies:

* The 5th Orphan Film Symposium, University of South Carolina, March 22-25, 2006
Linda Williams (UC Berkeley) Porn Films in the Kinsey Institute and Elsewhere 
(includes Q&A)

* The 7th Orphan Film Symposium: Moving Pictures Around the World
Wednesday, April 7, 2010, opening program: Orphan Film Ist.
  introduction to [The Janitor] (ca. 1930, Kinsey Institute Film Archive)
Gustav Deutsch, introduction to Film ist. a Girl & a Gun (Gustav Deutsch, 2009)

* Orphans Midwest: Materiality and the Moving Image, Indiana University, September 26-28, 2013

Session: The Kinsey Institute Film Archive

Russell Sheaffer (Indiana U) introduction

Liana Zhou (Kinsey Institute, Director of Libraries and Archives) Research Opportunities and Institutional Challenges of Working with Stag Films

Joseph Slade (Ohio U) Stag Film Audiences and Strictly Union (1919)

Eric Schaefer (Emerson College) William Mishkin and The Orgy at Lil’s Place (1963)

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