• The Surprise of a Knight: Excavating Material Legacies through Early Queer Film

      Lowe, Hilary Iris; Neptune, Harvey R., 1970- (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)
      Absent provenance or any background information, and with both implicit and explicit barriers to access within the archival space, how can we hypothesize—or critically fabulate—queer material legacies? The first—or earliest extant—American film to explicitly depict “queer” sex is The Surprise of a Knight (1929). By synthesizing perspectives on archives, material culture, queer identity, film, the Internet and pornography, this paper treats Surprise as an entry point into a discussion of public history and sexuality—revealing current issues with processing erotic materials and their impact on queer historiographies. This study outlines the problems presented by Surprise and explores contingencies for historical contextualization—methods public historians (archivists and interpreters alike) may adapt to fit similar materials within a broader history of film and queer identity. It explores current methods and future conundrums for best practices in the preservation of (born-digital) pornography, and concludes with impressions from potential audiences and present-day content producers as a means of envisioning new avenues of queer grassroots history-making.