Sex in the Afternoon at the Southbank

How can we make sense of Sex? Four acclaimed writers share poetry and prose that explores sex in all its glory and complexity. The work illustrates how radically different sex is for different people and invites us to consider sexuality from different perspectives, sometimes confronting cultural and religious taboos.

As Historian of Sexuality Dr. Jana Funke points out, literature contributes to our understanding of sexuality alongside scientific and medical research. The early pioneers of sexology research reached out beyond medical disciplines to understand our sexuality and in turn literary writers used ideas from science and medicine. She argues that this multi-disciplinary approach is important for contemporary research. Alongside brain scans, measuring hormone levels and genetics, literature helps us understand other dimensions of sex, the psychological, the social and the emotional. Listen to the podcast below


  • Dr Jana Funke is Advanced Research Fellow IN Medical Humanities based in the English Department at the University. Her research interests include the history of sexuality, sexual science, late 19thC and early 20thC literature and culture.
  • Malika Booker is a writer of poetry, plays and monologues.
  • Kei Miller is a writer and academic.
  • Warsan Shire is a writer, poet, editor and teacher.
  • Rachel Mars is a performance maker and writer, borrowing from theatre, live art and comedy.

Part of Sex in the Afternoon