Although Oscar Wilde often appears in literary classes as the token queer writer for the semester, the Victorian period (1830-1900) was full of writers addressing what we now consider LGBTQ themes in their works: in fact, Victorian writers who called themselves “sexologists,” and theorized about sexual desire, helped pave the way for the field that has now become queer studies.
Sadly, many of these Victorian texts on LGBTQ themes rarely appear in publications or in classrooms: they are mostly left out of anthologies, and the only anthology of Victorian queer literature is outdated and practically out of print, which perpetuates the problem. Consequently, many scholars of Victorian literature have an incomplete picture of their academic field, many students lack the opportunity to see how this vibrant period of literature immediately pertains to their life, and queer studies scholars miss the chance to learn about a huge subset of primary sources.
To address this problem, Professor Joanna Swafford (English and Digital Humanities) and her students at SUNY New Paltz are working with Professor Sarah Kersh (English) and her students at Dickinson College to create the Victorian Queer Archive, a digital archive that contains Victorian texts on LGBTQ themes. Each semester, students each add a carefully proofread transcription of a literary work, information about its publication history, and, whenever possible, a scan of its first-edition printing. The archive currently has 74 texts and will expand to close to 100 by the end of the 2016-2017 academic year.
Special Thanks to:
Christina Daube (Student Assistant, SUNY New Paltz)
Shannon Nolan (Student Assistant, Dickinson College)
Todd Bryant (Language Technology Specialist, Dickinson College)
Ryan Burke (Web Development Specialist, Dickinson College)
Students from "19th Century Gender and Sexuality," "Virtually London: Literature and Laptops," and "Digital Lyric" as well as "Victorian Sexualities"