Professor Catherine Harding (Department of Art History and Visual Studies)
Professor Melia Belli Bose (Department of Art History and Visual Studies)
This paper focuses on opportunities for visual remediation (or reinterpretation) in the making of queer digital archives. It offers a critical analysis of how canons of information are formed in relationship with queer bodies. It further proposes specific practices for using radical archives to facilitate pleasurable remediations of historical information interfaces. Historical constructions of bodies—queer bodies, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) bodies, femme bodies, differently-abled bodes, aging bodies—are legacies often erased but nonetheless deeply impressed upon those they continue to affect. It is the archiving of these historical constructions, though, that determine the form of this continuing affect. Are these legacies being reclaimed by those they touch? Or are they silently feeding into systemic erasures and being shaped invisibly beneath the weight of canonical coffee table books? The radical archival practices brought forward in this paper are intended to amass these historical bodies, often fragmented but nonetheless beautiful in the margins of history, in processes of creating new bodies of information that return control to queer communities striving toward self-definition in the present.
Given the limited scope of the Master’s Research Paper, I have concentrated my research on several miniatures from the late medieval French manuscript WLC.LM.6 (Le Roman de Silence/The Romance of Silence), held in the University of Nottingham, and on the contemporary website Queer Art History designed by transgender artist, activist, and speaker Casey Hoke (1997-2018) in 2017. Le Roman de Silence offers a case study of a late medieval interface, an illuminated codex, which both condemns and nuances lesbianism and other divergences from late medieval gender performance. Hoke’s website is itself a critical piece of interventionist art history and part of a genealogy of queer radical archiving. I analyze both of these interfaces—one traditionally located in manuscript studies, the other a digital platform—using the tools of queer digital humanities, medieval art history, archival practice, and queer theory.
‘Cis-heteronormative’ refers to dominant heterosexual and cis-gender societal norms
‘Cis-gender’ refers to people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth (another way to think of this is that if you are not a transgender, non-binary, or gender-fluid person than you are a cisgender person)
‘Information Interface’ is a term coined in Digital Humanities and it refers to the ‘front end’ of visual systems of knowledge production (like the page design of a manuscript, of the design of a webpage as it will appear to viewers)
‘Intra action’ is a term Dorothy Kim has developed from theories of quantum physics and material feminism. It is in opposition to “interaction” where two pre-existing entities are presumed. Instead of presuming pre-existing entities, such as a viewer and an object, the theory of “intra-action” presumes a momentary, context-specific enunciation of meaning that neither viewer nor object possessed before.