Mark S. Bonham Centre for
Sexual Diversity Studies

Sexual Representation Collection

“I developed the collection in order to chronicle the production and evolution of various styles and strategies of sexual representation, and to document the attendant legal and social struggles. Historically there have been a number of interconnected debates regarding issues of freedom of expression, sexuality, and the connection between explicit sexual representation and criminal behavior. The records of these debates are readily available but are meaningless without access to the materials at issue.”

– Max Allen, quote by Michelle Wilder and Allison Larsh, in “The Sexual Representation Collection: Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto,” for FIS 2308, August 2007

What is the Sexual Representation Collection?

The Sexual Representation Collection is one of the biggest single University-based research collections of materials relating to sexuality. Our collection specializes in commercially-produced materials that depict representations of sexuality for pleasure or education, as well as in censorship and the ways in which legal attitudes towards sexuality have impacted sexual representations and those engaged in their production. As a non-circulating research collection we offer a vast array of materials to researchers interested in the social and legal regulation, production, circulation, and content of sexual representations. Our collection includes thousands of archival materials, including books, art, audio-visual media and unique ephemera, all documenting some aspect of how sex has been represented, and therefore socially, culturally, and historically constructed and contested.

Our collection complements the undergraduate and graduate programs of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, of which the collection is part. We offer all University of Toronto students and alumni research, professional development, and employment opportunities. For example, students may arrange to use the collection for academic essays or projects, and are introduced to archival standards for researchers as well as specific issues relating to the use of sexual materials in research. Similarly, each year we sponsor work-study positions for undergraduate and graduate students interested in learning how to work in an archival environment. We also regularly host practicum placements from the Faculty of Information, where graduate students develop projects that will advance their professional goals as well as benefit the collection. The collection is overseen by a Steering Committee of experts from across campus, and is managed by Nicholas Matte, the collection’s curator. We welcome inquiries, which can be directed to nicholas.matte@utoronto.ca.

 

 

What, exactly, does the Sexual Representation Collection contain?

The Sexual Representation Collection contains a number of sub-collections, each of which comes from a unique source and has its own particular areas of focus and strength.

Sub-collections include:

Max Allen Collection

The extensive personal papers of Max Allen, former CBC producer and recognized anti-censorship activist who was involved in numerous legal battles to produce sexual representations between the 1970s and 1990s. An extensive finding guide is available for this collection.

SexTV Collection

Approximately 930 books donated by the producers of SexTV after the television channel (previously program) ended production. The books cover a range of issues related to sexuality, from arts to spirituality and health, and demonstrate the kinds of information being used by producers to create their public programming/media.

Book Collection

Over 500 books, including monographs (fiction and non-fiction), reports, journals, art books, comics and zines. The bulk of these materials are erotic fiction, including approximately 230 books published and/or distributed by erotic pulp novel companies from 1953-1986. Pornography and Censorship are the primary themes of the book collection.

Video Collection

This collection is currently being processed, but contains over a thousand pornographic videos on VHS videocassette that were collected for a major research project on pornographic representations of bodies.

Scarborough Collection

Contains over 1000 VHS videocassettes as well as hundreds of DVDs and numerous pornographic magazines. All originated from a pornography retail shop that was in operation in Scarborough (a former municipality within Toronto, Ontario, Canada), which closed in the early 1990s. These materials are divided into research themes and can be used as a case-study and to examine a wide range of questions about the mainstream pornography industry of this era. An extensive finding guide is available for this collection.

Lord Morpheous Collection

Various promotional materials, photographs, and publications having to do with Toronto-based, internationally-active, Lord Morpheous and his career as a bondage photography, practitioner, and educator. The collection includes digital and print copies of his art work, as well as ephemera, and signed copies of his 2008 How to be Kinky: a Beginner’s guide to BDSM and his 2012 How to be Kinkier: Your Guide to Safe and Sexy BDSM. An extensive finding guide is available for this collection.

Tristan Taormino Collection

A small collection of educational and erotic videos produced by Taormino, a leading feminist author, activist and sex educator

Annie Sprinkle Collection

A small collection of materials Sprinkle donated to the collection when she gave a talk, including materials on her art projects and ecosexuality movement

Miscellaneous other materials

Such as a collection of box art from 1980s and 90s VHS pornography tapes, signed copies of Buck Angel DVDs, and a complete collection of Playboy magazines from Sept 1965-Dec 1976

 

For all inquiries regarding the collection, including donations and how to view the artifacts, please contact Nick Matt at nicholas.matte@utoronto.ca

The SRC would not be possible without the generous donation made by Max Allen, a retired CBC producer who was actively involved in researching and documenting media representations and censorship cases of sexuality throughout the 1980s. The collection has since grown thanks to significant other significant donors as well.