Angie Blumberg
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Queer archaeologies
in British literature and archaeology, 1880– 1930
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Engaging with recent developments in queer archaeology and queer temporality, this chapter reaches back to the archaeological encounters that drive works by Vernon Lee, Oscar Wilde, Charles Ricketts, and E.M. Forster, demonstrating how these artists queered archaeology long before either term had come into wide use or stable definition. Examining Lee’s ‘Amour Dure’ (1887) and ‘Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady’ (1896), Wilde’s The Sphinx (1894) and The Portrait of Mr. W.H. (1889, rev. 1921), and Forster’s Maurice (1971) and Pharos and Pharillon (1923), along with designs for The Sphinx by Ricketts, Chapter 1 reveals writers and artists turning to the ancient past as a rich repository of materials for expressing queer identity. This chapter also demonstrates that in the process of excavating and reconstituting the past to generate non-normative possibility, these artists necessitate a secondary excavation—that done by their audience. To unearth what is encoded in the layers of a text or image, readers and viewers must adopt unique digging practices. Thus queerness, in the works addressed in Chapter 1, operates as an epistemological frame of mind into which these artists lead their audience through what we might call a queer archaeological epistemology.

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