Professor Jana Funke

Research interests

I am a literary scholar by training and based in the English Department. I am also a member of the Centre for Medical History at Exeter. I am interested in developing new inter- and cross-disciplinary approaches to explore how understandings of gender and sexuality are produced at the intersections of literature, medicine and science. 

Modernist Studies

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 I have published several chapters and articles as well as a book entitled The World and Other Unpublished Works by Radclyffe Hall (MUP, 2016).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. It offers a revisionary reading of Radclyffe Hall's writings and reassesses her place in early twentieth-century culture. 

I am also writing a monograph entitled Sexual Modernism: Sexual Science, Femininity and Subjectivity. This book calls for a new understanding of the relation between sexual science and literary modernism, focusing, in particular, on the relation between modernist women writing and sexual science. Interdisciplinary in scope, the book reconceptualises sexual science as a broad field, incorporating Darwinian evolutionary and racial science, sexology or ‘sex psychology’, psychoanalysis, hypnotism, theosophy, spiritualism and endocrinology. It opens up new understandings of these scientific debates and, in so doing, pioneers original readings of a wide range of literary works by canonical and non-canonical British writers of the interwar period such as Bryher, H.D., Radclyffe Hall, Mina Loy, May Sinclair, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Una Troubridge, Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. 

History of Sexuality

I have published a number of chapters and articles on the history of sexual science and medicine, specifically in England and Germany.

In 2015, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Joint Investigator Award to direct a 5-year project on “The Cross-Disciplinary Invention of Sexuality: Sexual Science Beyond the Medical, 1890-1940” together with 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 result in a number of publications, including a substantial research monograph, jointly co-authored with Kate Fisher, which will offer a new history of sexual science and reconsider historical narratives concerning the modern invention of sexuality. The project will also raise broader questions about the dynamics of cross-disciplinary exchange and seek to intervene in debates about sexual health and wellbeing today through an ambitious public engagement and impact programme.

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. 

Medical Humanities

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.

Feminist/Gender/Queer Theory

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.

Selected Conference and Presentations

· Keynote Lecture, PG Medical Humanities Conference, University of Exeter (28-29 July 2016)

·  European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, Stockholm (14-17 June 2016):  “Sexual Science, Women’s Writing and Sexual Modernism.” 

· (with Kate Fisher) Medical History Seminar, University of Warwick (12 May 2015): “Sexual Science Beyond the Medical.”

· Modernist Studies Association Conference (MSA16), Pittsburgh (5-9 November 2014): "Female Masochism, Sexual Autonomy and Sapphic Modernism."

· European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies Conference, University of Helsinki (29-31 August 2014): “‘What are the Islands to Me?’ Bryher, H.D. and the Heterotopic Island.” 

· Mediating History’s Materiality, 1700-1900 Workshop, University of Freiburg (forthcoming, 25-26 July 2014): “Desiring the Past: Archaeology, History and the Emergence of Western Sexual Science.” (invited)

· 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.” 

· Alternative Modernisms Conference, University of Cardiff (15-19 May 2013): "The Adventure of Development: Bryher, Boyhood and Temporal Mobility.”

· (with Kate Fisher) Sexology and Translation Symposium, Birkbeck University (14-15 June 2012): “Translating the Past: Havelock Ellis as Historian.” (invited)

· Plenary Roundtable, Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf, International Virginia Woolf Conference, University of Saskatchewan (7-10 June 2012)

· (with Rebecca Langlands) Romosexuality Conference, University of Durham (16-18 April 2012): “Material Passion and Noble Spirit: Sexological Uses of Rome."

· British Society for Literature and Science Conference, University of Oxford (12-14 April 2012): “‘The Purifying Breath of Spring’: Havelock Ellis, Science and Literariness.” 

· Medicalization of Sex Conference, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (28-30 April 2011): “Sexual History Before The History of Sexuality? Constructions of the Past in Havelock Ellis’ Studies in the Psychology of Sex.”

· NeMLA Conference, Rutgers University, Panel on Interdisciplinary Studies and Women Modernists (7-10 April 2011): “Navigating Sexology: Bryher, Havelock Ellis, and the Adventure of Sex.”

· 1910 Centenary Conference, University of Glasgow (10-12 December 2010): “’the most beautiful thing I have ever written’: Freud’s Case Study of Leonardo da Vinci and Modernist Culture.”

· Sexualities In and Out of Time Conference, University of Edinburgh (28-29 November 2008): “N.O. Body’s Future: Sexual Intermediacy and Anticipation in the Case of Karl M. Baer.”

· NeMLA Conference, Buffalo, NY / Panel on ‘Queer Theory and Becoming’ (10-13 April 2008): “The Temporal Politics of Intersex.”

Research collaborations