Desiring Statues: Statuary, Sexuality and History Conference
Dr Stefano-Maria Evangelista (University of Oxford)
Dr Ian Jenkins (British Museum)
Statuary has offered a privileged site for the articulation of sexual
experience and ideas, and the formation of sexual knowledge. From
prehistoric phallic stones, mythological representations of statues and
sculptors, e.g. Medusa or Pygmalion, to the Romantic aesthetics and erotics
of statuary and the recurrent references to sculpture in nineteenth- and
twentieth-century sexology and other new debates on sexuality, the discourse
of the statue intersects with constructions of gender, sex and sexuality in
As historical objects, statues give insight into changing perceptions of the
sexed body and its representation; they tell stories of ownership and
appropriation of sexualities across diverse cultural locations and
historical moments. As an imaginary site, statues can serve to trouble the
distinction between subject and object, reality and unreality, presence and
absence, and present and past, thereby offering rich possibilities for
thinking about the relation between individual and communal identities,
sexuality and the past.
This interdisciplinary conference seeks to investigate how statues
facilitate this interplay of sexuality and history. It explores the numerous different ways in which statues –as historical and/or imagined artefacts– allow us to think about the past and its relation to sex, gender and sexuality.
The conference brings together contributors from a wide variety of
disciplines, including history, gender and sexuality studies, literary and
cultural studies, art history, classics, archaeology and philosophy.
Contributions from postgraduate research students are very welcome.
Papers should explore how statuary intersects with questions of sexuality
and gender, and temporality, specifically history. Possible topics include,
but are not limited to:
• Uses of Statuary in Sexual Science
• Statues in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts
• Representations of Statues and Sculptors (in Literature, Visual
Arts, New Media)
• Sculptures and the Construction of Gender, Racial and National Identity
• Use of Statuary in Sexual Reform Movements
• Psychoanalytic Uses of Statuary
• Statues, Gender and Sexuality in Myths, Legends and Their Adaptations
• Sculpture and Figurations of Desire
• Statuary Representations of the Gendered Body
• Reception Histories of Individual Statues
The conference is organised by Dr Jana Funke (j.funkeexeter.ac.uk) and
Jennifer Grove (jeg208exeter.ac.uk) as part of the interdisciplinary Sexual
History, Sexual Knowledge project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, and led by
Drs Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands.
Please send 300-500 words abstracts to j.funkeexeter.ac.uk and
jeg208exeter.ac.uk. The deadline for abstract submissions is 1st October 2011.
CFP: Desiring Statues (Exeter, 27 Apr 12). In: ArtHist.net, Jul 12, 2011 (accessed Mar 31, 2023), <https://arthist.net/archive/1638>.