Home » Fall 2007 » Three Library Patrons Talk About the KI Library

Three Library Patrons Talk About the KI Library

Kinsey Today reporter Ellen Michel asked some of our visiting scholars to share their research and experience at the Kinsey Institute library.

Eve Fine

photo of Eve Fine
Eve Fine, from Newton, MA, is a senior in history at Yale University. Her research interests are American studies and human sexuality and her senior thesis focuses on the production and distribution of erotic literature in New York City in the early twentieth century.

Q: What are your research interests?

I am interested in the erotica trade in the early to mid 20th century. Currently, I am writing my thesis on Dr. Kinsey’s relationships with erotica dealers and the creation of the KI library.

Q: What brought you to the KI library?

My great-grandfather, Rubin Bresler, was a bookbinder who also sold erotica. In the late 1940s and early 50s, he collaborated with Kinsey on the creation of the KI library, selling and binding books for the sexologist. The KI library houses much of Bresler’s merchandise, as well as a vast correspondence between Bresler and Kinsey.

Q: What materials are you using here?

I have examined Kinsey’s correspondence with my great-grandfather, as well as with erotica dealers from around the country. I have also explored some of my great-grandfather's merchandise.

Q: How would you describe your experience with the Kinsey archives/library?

My experience at the KI has been extremely fulfilling, both academically and personally. I could not have written my senior thesis without the resources available at the KI.

Q: What does it give you that you can’t get elsewhere?

Thanks to collectors and dealers like my great-grandfather, the KI has one of the most extensive and diverse collections of erotica in the world. For those who study literary and artistic representations of sex, the KI library is a vital resource.

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Scott Herring

Scott Herring is Assistant Professor of English at Indiana University.  His first book, Queering the Underworld: Slumming, Literature, and the Undoing of Lesbian and Gay History, is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press. He is completing his second book, Another Country: Rural Stylistics and the Politics of Queer Anti-urbanism. Scott Herring: tsherrin@indiana.edu

Q: Tell us about your research interests.

I am interested in modern American literature, visual culture, and lesbian and gay studies.

Q: What brought you to the KI library?

I’m researching a book on lesbian, gay, and queer rural cultures and the Kinsey has more national and underground periodicals than any archive that I know of.

Q: Tell us about the materials you’ve used.

I have looked at major newspapers, journals, and magazines such as The Advocate, Honcho, and Blueboy, as well as lesbian scrapbooks from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. I’ve also studied the photographs of George Platt Lynes.

Q: How would you describe your experience at The Kinsey Institute library?

Overwhelming – it’s like a haystack amidst a bunch of needles. The Kinsey’s multi-media collection enables interdisciplinary research across print, moving image, and photography.

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Susan Stryker

Prof of Women's Studies Susan Stryker
Susan Stryker currently lectures in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. In September 2007 she will begin an appointment as Woodward Professor of Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. She co-edited the Transgender Studies Reader (Routledge 2006) and co-directed, wrote and produced the Emmy-winning public television documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria (2005). Susan Stryker: susanstryker@yahoo.com.

Q: What are your research interests?

I do historical and critical work on body modification practices and transgender phenomena, and I have a special interest in transexuality.

In my most recent visit to The Kinsey Institute I was looking at transsexual narratives of the 1950s and earlier that discussed genital surgery in terms of “amputation.” This was for a paper I was writing with my Australian colleague Nikki Sullivan, a feminist philosopher, in which we compare so-called “self-demand amputation” (apotemnophilia or Body Integrity Identity Disorder) and transsexual genital modification, with reference to legal definitions of mayhem (the willful destruction of health tissue). We are interested in how a “legitimating narrative” for transsexual body modification has emerged over time, a narrative now being adopted by those seeking voluntary limb amputations. One goal of this research is articulate an ethics according to which sovereign or state power should address antinormative desires among its constituent members.

Q: Why do you use the KI library?

It’s like that anecdote about asking the bank robber why he robbed banks, and he answers “Because that’s where the money is.” The KI has absolutely unparalleled collections of material on the medical and sexological history of transsexuality.

Q: What materials have you used?

I was working with historical records of Dr. Harry Benjamin, the author of the landmark book, The Transsexual Phenomenon, published in 1966. Benjamin corresponded with hundreds of transgender people in the 1950s and 1960s, and their letters to him, explaining the particularities and peculiarities of their gender identity are a very rich source of material on transgender narratives of self.

Q: How would you describe your experience with the Kinsey archives and library?

I always have fun when I come to the KI. It’s nice to stay at the IMU and to be able to walk to the archives, and stroll downtown for lunch. I like the informality and person attention you can get from the staff. It’s always been a very pleasant archival research experience – not at all like some of the more alienating larger special collections libraries I’ve spent time in.

Q: What does it give you that you can’t get elsewhere?

My choice of Tibetan restaurants downtown!

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Access the KI library at www.kinseyinstitute.org/library

 

 

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