Shannon Draucker responds to Julia Fuller

Julia Fuller’s response highlights one of the most exciting features of Joseph’s book – the concept of “archival presentism” – and urges us to think about how we might approach this framework more intersectionally.  As Fuller reminds us, the queer transgressions that we love to celebrate in Victorian literature are often enabled by – and serve to prop up – white supremacy.  Queer figures can brush up against the normative, but can do so much more easily when they are white.

Fuller’s invitation to think more intersectionally about material transgressions is urgent for many reasons, including the fact that objects themselves are particularly urgent vectors for conversations about race.  In the UK this year, activists toppled the statue of a slave trader in Brighton, and the British Museum introduced (\with debatable success) a new collection “trail” to highlight the colonial histories of its objects.  As Ronjaunee Chatterjee, Alicia Mireles Christoff, and Amy R. Wong write in “Undisciplining Victorian Studies,” we must consider “migration, diaspora, overlapping imperial oppressions, and…other complicated ‘intimacies’ (and intimate violences) of global exchange.” [1]  If we are to do so, Fuller suggests, we must grapple with objects that have much less “exquisite” histories.

[1] Ronjaunee Chatterjee, Alicia Mireles Christoff, and Amy R. Wong, “Introduction: Undisciplining Victorian Studies.” Victorian Studies 62.3 (Spring 2020): 375-6.

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