Professor Jana Funke
Associate Professor of English and Sexuality Studies
My research focuses on modernist literature and culture, the history of sexuality, sexual science and medicine, and feminist studies and queer theory. I am currently completing three monographs: Sexological Modernism: Queer Feminism and Sexual Science (Edinburgh University Press, 2022), Sexperts: A History of Sexology (Reaktion Press, 2022) and a book on the interdisciplinary history of sexology jointly authored with Professor Kate Fisher. I am also co-editing (with Dr Elizabeth English and Dr Sarah Parker) a new edited collection entitled Interrogating Lesbian Modernisms: Histories, Forms, Genres (Edinburgh University Press, 2022) and (with Dr Hannah Roche) the first ever critical edition of Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness (Oxford University Press, 2023).
Previous books include The World and Other Unpublished Works by Radclyffe Hall (MUP, 2016), which was featured on BBC Radio 4 Open Book, and the co-edited volumes Sex, Gender and Time in Fiction and Culture (Palgrave, 2011) and Sculpture, Sexuality and History: Encounters in Literature, Culture and the Arts (Palgrave, 2019).
In 2015, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Joint Investigator Award to direct (together with Kate Fisher) a major five-year project on the cross-disciplinary history of sexual science. In 2014, I was selected to participate in the AHRC and Wellcome Trust-funded New Generations in Medical Humanities Programme. I am strongly committed to making my research accessible to wider audiences and collaborating with non-academic publics. Past work includes Orlando: The Queer Element (led by Clay & Diamonds), the Transvengers (led by Gendered Intelligence), Dangerous Influences (in collaboration with Dreadnought South West) and various contributions to the Wellcome Collection’s Institute of Sexology Exhibition and its engagement programme, Sexology Season. I also co-directed the Transformations project (2019-2020) in collaboration with Gendered Intelligence and artist Jason Barker, which resulted in the Adventures in Time and Gender podcast and website. I am currently co-directing the Out and About: Queering the Museum project in collaboration with socially engaged artist Natalie McGrath and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.
I am one of the Co-Chairs of the University's LGBTQ+ Staff Network.
- Modernist Literature and Culture
- History of Sexuality
- History of Sexual Science
- Feminist Theory, Gender Studies and Queer Theory
- Medical Humanities
You can sign up for my Office Hours here. You can find me in Room 155, Queen's East Wing.
My interdisciplinary research explores how understandings of gender and sexuality are produced at the intersections of literature, medicine and science. I am a literary scholar by training and based in the Department of English and Film. I also work on the history of sexuality and am a co-founder of the Sexual Knowledge Unit and a member of the Centre for Medical History at Exeter. I have also led a number of public engagement and impact projects with non-academic partners, focusing specifically on LGBTQ+ history and culture.
My work seeks to revise scholarly understandings of how gender and sexuality are constructed in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature and culture. I am also interested in interrogating and expanding traditional boundaries of lesbian and queer modernism.
I have published several chapters and articles as well as a book entitled The World and Other Unpublished Works by Radclyffe Hall (MUP, 2016). The volume presents a range of new archival materials, including short stories and an unfinished novel by Hall. My substantial introduction to the book offers a revisionary reading of Radclyffe Hall's writings and reassesses Hall's place in early twentieth-century culture. It reveals, for instance, that Hall engaged with a far wider range of sexualities and gender expressions than previously assumed. You can hear me talk about Hall on BBC Radio 4 Open Book, BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, Bad Gays and Censored. I am currently co-editing (with Dr Hannah Roche) the first ever critical edition of Radclyffe Hall's novel The Well of Loneliness, which is forthcoming as an Oxford World Classics edition (Oxford University Press, 2023).
I am also completing a monograph entitled Sexological Modernism: Queer Feminism and Sexual Science (Edinburgh University Press, 2022). The book explores how eight modernist writers - Vera Brittain, Bryher, Radclyffe Hall, Naomi Mitchison, Vita Sackville-West, May Sinclair, Una Troubridge and Rebecca West - engaged with sexual scientific ideas to expand existing ways of thinking and writing about gender and sexuality. While sexology is often remembered as a field dominated by cisgender men studying sexual ‘deviance’ or ‘perversion’, this book draws on published and unpublished archival works to uncover previously overlooked resonances between sexual science and queer feminist modernism. It argues that queer and feminist modernist writers and sexual scientists shared a profound commitment to sexual reform and a deep fascination with psychological questions about consciousness, subjectivity and the imagination. These shared investments allowed them to enter into productive – if not always harmonious – dialogue about a wide range of gender expressions and sexualities, including homosexuality, bisexuality and gender nonconformity as well as heterosexual desire, marriage, motherhood and biological reproduction. By investigating the deep intellectual and political entanglements between queer feminist modernism and sexual science, this book reveals how literary and sexological writers developed a new language and set of frameworks for understanding gender and sexuality.
In addition, I am co-editing (with Dr Elizabeth English and Dr Sarah Parker) a book entited Interrogating Lesbian Modernism: Histories, Forms, Genres (Edinburgh University Press, 2022). My chapter in this book explores Christopher St John as a figure whose life and work cuts across cis lesbian and trans modernisms.
In 2019, I co-edited Sculpture, Sexuality and History: Encounters in Literature, Culture and the Arts together with Dr Jen Grove. My chapter in this book offers a new reading of H.D.'s relationship with Freud based on their shared investment in the psychoanalyst's Bronze Athena statuette.
History of Sexuality
Within the history of sexuality, my individual and collaborative work on the interdisciplinary dimensions of British and German sexology has opened up new readings of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sexual science.
From 2012-2014, supported by a British Academy Small Research Grant, I led an international network of scholars to work on a project entitled 'Interdisciplinary Readings: Havelock Ellis & Co.' The aim of the network was to consider the interdisciplinary nature of Havelock Ellis' writings and explore previously neglected aspects of his work.
In 2015, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Joint Investigator Award to direct a 7-year project called Rethinking Sexology: Sexual Science Beyond the Medical, 1890-1940 together with Prof Kate Fisher. The project seeks to explore the cross-disciplinary exchange between medical and non-medical forms of knowledge at the heart of early sexual science. It will offer a new history of sexual science and reconsider historical narratives concerning the modern invention of sexuality. In addition to various chapters and articles, the project will result in a monograph I am currently writing together with Kate Fisher. We are also co-editing, together with Dr Chiara Beccalossi, a special journal issue of History of the Human Sciences on the topic of Sexology and Development.
My interdisciplinary research has allowed me to lead developments in the Medical Humanities at Exeter and beyond. I have begun to explore Medical Humanities frameworks to address challenges around the medicalization of sex through engaged research activities (e.g. in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and supported by the ESRC). My leadership potential was recognised when I was chosen to participate in the 2014/2015 AHRC- and Wellcome-Trust-funded New Generations in Medical Humanities Programme. I also co-direct the Bodies, Knowledge and Identities subtheme as part of the College of Humanities' Medical Humanities Theme as well as the Sexual Knowledge Unit at the University of Exeter. In 2018, I co-edited (with Dr Sherri Lynn Foster) a special journal issue on Feminist Encounters with the Medical Humanities.
Feminist, gender and queer theory inform all of my work. My research has focused on feminist and queer approaches to time and temporality, and I have co-edited a volume of essays with Ben Davies, entitled Sex, Gender and Time in Fiction and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). This book explores the relationship between sexuality and time by drawing on different theoretical approaches and applying these to a variety of disciplinary contexts and historical moments. Examining modern art, literature, film, theory and the law, it demonstrates how queer and straight time intersect in complex and sometimes unexpected ways, calling for a radical rethinking of these categories.
Awards, Grants and Research Fellowships:
- 2020-2022: PI / National Lottery Heritage Fund: "Queering the Museum: Creating, Uncovering and Celebrating LGBTQ+ Heritage at RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum)
- 2019-2020: PI / Wellcome Trust Research Enrichment Award: "Transformations: Encountering Gender and Science" (with Kate Fisher and Jen Grove)
- 2016: AHRC Being Human Festival Public Engagement Funding: "Dangerous Influences"
- 2015-2020: PI / Wellcome Trust Joint Investigator Award: "The Cross-Disciplinary Invention of Sexual Science: Sexual Science Beyond the Medical, 1890-1940" (with Kate Fisher)
- 2015: Wellcome Trust Bursary for Public Engagement Masterclass
- 2014: PI / ESRC Public Engagement Funding: "Making the Sexual Self" (Public engagement event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, November 2014)
- 2013: PI / HASS Development Funding: "The Medicalisation of Sex? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sexual Science" (with Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands)
- 2013: Travel Grant for Keynote Address, Dartmouth University, Humanities Institute: “Towards a Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1950”
- 2012: Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship, Lilly Library: “Vita Sackville-West and the History of Marriage”
- 2011-2013: PI / British Academy Small Research Grant, 'Interdisciplinary Readings: Havelock Ellis & Co.'
- 2010: Harry Ransom Center Fellowship, 'The Short Fiction of Radclyffe Hall'
- 2008: PI / AHRC Student-Led Initiative Grant, 'Sexualities In and Out of Time Conference' (with Ben Davies)
- German National Academic Foundation Alumna (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)
Selected Presentations and Lectures:
- Keynote Lecture, Sense and Sensibility Conference: Erotic Discourses In/Of History, University of Silesia, Poland (September 2020/rescheduled September 2021)
- Keynote Lecture, Queer Modernisms II Conference, University of Oxford (April 2018)
- Keynote Lecture, PG Medical Humanities Conference, University of Exeter (28-29 July 2016)
- Keynote Lecture (with Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands) College of Humanities PGR Student Conference, University of Exeter (forthcoming, 28 April 2014): “Sexual Futures.”
- Plenary Paper, Beyond the Victorian/Modernist Divide Conference, University of Rouen (27-28 March 2014): “Sexual Science, Modernism and the Politics of Anti-Victorianism.”
- Keynote Lecture (with Kate Fisher) Humanities Institute: Towards a Global History of Sexual Science, Dartmouth University, US (1 July 2013): "Encountering the Past: Global Histories and the Interdisciplinary Culture of Sexual Science.”
- Plenary Roundtable, Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf, International Virginia Woolf Conference, University of Saskatchewan (7-10 June 2012)
I would be very happy to work with students interested in:
- modernist literature and culture
- history of sexuality
- medical humanities
- history of science and medicine, especially sexual science/medicine
- LGBTQ+ history, literature and culture
- feminist, gender and queer theory
2020-Present: Neha Shaji (Exeter Global Excellence Scholarship-funded): 'India's Illicit Sexualities: Disruptive Queer Representations in Film and Fiction'
2019-Present: Abby Ashley (DTP-funded): ‘Autism and Gender in Contemporary Literature and Culture'
2018-Present: Gareth Smith (DTP-funded): ‘Class and Male Homosexuality in Post-War Literature’
2018-Present: Kelechi Anucha (Wellcome Trust-funded): ‘Out of Time: Chrononormativity and Practices of Endurance in Contemporary End-of-Life Writing’
2018-Present: Kazuki Yamada (QUEX Partnership-funded): ‘A Genealogy of Later Life Sexuality: Sex and Time in Mid-Nineteenth to Late Twentieth-Century Science’
2017-Present: Pichaya Waiprib (Royal Thai Embassy-funded): ‘Discovering Queer Victorians: Representations of Female Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Gothic Literature’
2018-Present: Shihoko Inoue: ‘Boundaries of Motherhood: Gender and Displacement in Sylvia Plath’s Poetry’
2011-2015: Dr Jamie Bernthal (AHRC-funded): ‘Queering Agatha Christie’
External impact and engagement
I have extensive experiences engaging different publics with my research and have been actively involved in developing and running public engagement, engaged research and impact activities.
I was a key academic collaborator on the Orlando: The Queer Element (Clay & Diamonds) and Transvengers (Gendered Intelligence) projects. I also worked with Dreadnought South West to develop a new short performance, Dangerous Influences, based on my research on Radclyffe Hall and was interviewed by Mariella Frostrup on BBC Radio 4 Open Book (interview starts at 11:30). I ran and contributed to several events as part of the Wellcome Trust's major Institute of Sexology Exhibition and the accompanying Sexology Season, including Sex in the Afternoon and Sexological Photographs as Evidence. I have delivered public lectures on my research at the V&A in London, M-Shed in Bristol, the People Museum in Manchester, the Exeter Phoenix and Picturehouse and many other locations.
I also co-directed the Transformations project (2019-2020), which resulted in the Adventures in Time and Gender podcast and website. I am currently co-directing the Out and About: Queering the Museum project in collaboration with socially engaged artist Natalie McGrath and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.
Contribution to discipline
I regularly review articles, chapters and book manuscripts, e.g. for Palgrave, Broadview Press, Manchester University Press, Ashgate, modernism/modernity, Literature Compass, Journal of Lesbian Studies, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Women: A Cultural Review, Women's History Review, Pilgrimages: The Journal of Dorothy Richardson Studies, History of the Human Sciences, GLQ, and Porn Studies.
I am a member of the consultative group for Women: A Cultural Review and an honorary board member on the editorial team for Impact: The Journal of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning at the University of Boston.
I am also a co-organiser of the Institute for Historical Research (IHR) History of Sexuality Seminar Series.
In addition, I have organised the following conferences and events:
- Sexualities In and Out of Time Conference, University of Edinburgh, AHRC-funded; co-organised with Dr Ben Davies, 2008
- Desiring Statues: Statuary, Sexuality, and History, University of Exeter, Wellcome Trust-funded; co-organised with Jen Grove, 2012
- Havelock Ellis Colloquium, London, British Academy-funded, 2012
- Centre for Medical History Seminar Series, University of Exeter, 2012-2013
- Sexual Futures Colloquium, University of Exeter, Wellcome Trust-funded; co-organised with Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands, 2014
- Mapping Sexual Knowedge Workshop, University of California at Berkeley, Wellcome Trust funded; co-organised with Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands, 2015
- Gender Identity and Diagnosis Workshop, Wellcome Collection, Wellcome Trust-funded, 2016
- Interdisciplinary Histories Conference, University of Exeter, Wellcome Trust funded; co-organised with Kate Fisher and Jen Grove, 2017
- Sexology and Development Conference, Barcelona, Wellcome Trust-funded, co-organised with Chiara Beccalossi and Kate Fisher, 2019
- I was interviewed about my work on Radclyffe Hall for BBC Radio 4 Open Book, BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, Bad Gays and Censored.
- My impact work as part of the Adventures in Time and Gender project has been featured by Forbes, Diva Magazine and RTRFM Australia.
- My impact work as part of the Out and About: Queering the Museum project has been featured by the Exeter Observer and BBC Radio Devon.
- I have written blog posts for Notches: (Re)Marks on the History of Sexuality, including "Born This Way? The Invention of a Political Strategy" and "Radclyffe Hall".
2020-2021: UG Humanities after the Human
2020-2021: UG Poison, Filth, Trash: Modernism, Censorship and Resistance (convener)
2019-2020: MA Expanding Queerness (co-convener with Dr Benedict Morrison)
2019-2020: MA Modernism and Material Culture (team-taught)
2016-2017: UG Modernism and Modernity (convener)
2013-Present: UG Approaches to Criticism
2013-2016: UG Sexualities (team-taught)
2012-2013: UG Sexuality in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Britain (convener)
2011-2012: MA Sexual Discoveries: The Reception of Erotica from ‘Other’ Cultures in the Nineteenth- and Twentieth Century (team-taught)
- EAS1032 - Approaches to Criticism
- EAS2090 - Humanities after the Human: Further Adventures in Critical Theory
- EAS2103 - Modernism and Modernity: Literature 1900-1960
- EAS3003 - Dissertation
- EAS3252 - Poison, Filth, Trash: Modernism, Censorship and Resistance
- EASM151 - Modernism and Material Culture
- EASM171 - Expanding Queerness: Critical Debates in Theory, Literature, Film and Television
- EASM175 - Dissertation (Research-Based or Practical Publishing Project)
- HIH3619 - Sexualities
I was educated at the Universities of Cologne (MA; with distinction), Oxford (MSt in English Studies, 1900-present day; with distinction) and Edinburgh (PhD, English Literature). After finishing my PhD in June 2010 and spending some time in Austin, Texas as a Harry Ransom Center Fellow, I joined the Sexual History, Sexual Knowledge Project at the Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, in August 2010. In September 2013, I joined the Department of English at the University of Exeter as an Advanced Research Fellow (HASS Strategy - Medical Humanities). This post led to a Lectureship in Medical Humanities in 2016 and a Senior Lecturership in Medical Humanities in 2017. I was promoted to Associate Professor of English & Sexuality Studies in 2020.