"Action and Identity: Homosexual Multiplicity in Word and Image, 1840-1940" is a hypertext exploration of how the self is created, named and identified by the individual and by society. Cheaper printing methods and the growing use of photography in the Industrial Age created new avenues of self-expression and self-definition while also nationalizing and therefore, to a degree, standardizing those newly expressed identities. Homosexuality is one such idea/identity which undergoes a major change in the late 19th Century, blossoming with the joyous expression of a newly realized cultural relevance.

Walt Whitman's meeting with Oscar Wilde in 1882 can be imagined as a symbolic generational shift from homosexuality as an action to an identity, an identity which increasingly had to be obscured to the general public, though expressed through other means, as in the case of Victorian bodybuilder Eugen Sandow.

An Editor's Note: This project focuses on male homosexuality in order to contain its scope. I regret this because it seems that the elucidation of lesbian history, especially pre-20th Century, is one of the most important issues facing Queer Studies today.

This project is a creation of Joshua Ranger for the American Studies Program at the University of Virginia. Please contact asgroup@virginia.edu or pikespale@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.