© 2019

Sculpture, Sexuality and History

Encounters in Literature, Culture and the Arts from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

  • Jana Funke
  • Jen Grove


  • Offers a new understanding of the different ways in which the reception of statuary has been shaped by debates about sexuality and history

  • Explores how sculptures have opened up debates about queer desires and identities, as well as obscenity, censorship and morality

  • Brings together leading international experts and cutting-edge scholars from an extensive range of disciplines


Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. The Desire for the Living Statue and the Desire for the Past

  3. Sculptural Decency: Reception, Censorship and Liberation

  4. Queer Possibilities of Statuary

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 269-280

About this book


This book investigates the wide-ranging connections between sculpture, sexuality, and history in Western culture from the eighteenth century to the present. Sculpture has offered a privileged site for the articulation of sexual experience and the formation of sexual knowledge. As historical objects, sculptures also draw attention to the different ways in which knowledge about sexuality is facilitated through an engagement with the past. Bringing together contributors from across disciplines, including art history, classics, film studies, gender studies, history, literary studies, museum studies, queer theory and reception studies, the volume presents original readings of sculptural art in relation to antiquarianism, aesthetics, collecting cultures, censorship and obscenity, psychoanalysis, sexology, and the experience and regulation of museum spaces. It examines how sculptural encounters were imagined and articulated in literature, painting, film and science. As a whole, the book opens up a new understanding of the ways in which sculptures, as real or imagined objects, have fundamentally shaped approaches to and receptions of the past in relation to sex, gender and sexuality.

Chapters 8 and 10 of this book are available open access under a CC BY 4.0 license at


Sexual knowledge Morality Erotic art Statuary Material culture

Editors and affiliations

  • Jana Funke
    • 1
  • Jen Grove
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ExeterExeterUK
  2. 2.University of ExeterExeterUK

About the editors

Jana Funke is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research focuses on modernist literature and the history of sexuality and the history of sexual science. Previous books include The World and Other Unpublished Works by Radclyffe Hall (2016) and Sex, Gender and Time in Fiction and Culture (2011, co-edited with Ben Davies). She directs (with Kate Fisher) the Wellcome Trust-funded 'Rethinking Sexology' project (2015-2020).

Jen Grove is an Engaged Research Fellow in the Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter, UK. She is employed on the Wellcome Trust-funded 'Rethinking Sexology' project (2015-2020). Jen has published several book chapters and articles on the modern collection and reception of ancient objects and the history of sexuality.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Sculpture, Sexuality and History
  • Book Subtitle Encounters in Literature, Culture and the Arts from the Eighteenth Century to the Present
  • Editors Jana Funke
    Jen Grove
  • Series Title Genders and Sexualities in History
  • Series Abbreviated Title Genders and Sexualities in History
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-95839-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-95840-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVIII, 280
  • Number of Illustrations 2 b/w illustrations, 9 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Cultural History
    History of Modern Europe
    Gender Studies
    Modern History
    Fine Arts
  • Buy this book on publisher's site