Call for papers

Translated from:
Appel à contributions

If cultural history is understood as a social history of representations, the imaginary worlds of sexuality - just like those of sports, food, and clothing - are undeniably part of its field of investigation, insofar as they participate in the creation of social imaginary worlds, and in particular the imaginary worlds of the body. These representations are socially anchored: they take their source in practices which, to be individual and intimate, are not less the object of discourses and norms collectively constructed. They are also socially mediated: the sexual imaginary of a society is diffused through cultural productions governed by social actors, and having a technical, economic and commercial materiality which ensures their circulation in the social space. They are finally socially efficient, in that they come in their turn to influence the practices themselves.

Sexualities have been the subject of much research in the international historical field for the last forty years. Recently, the questions of gender identities and their cultural construction, normative and taxonomic discourses on sexuality, obscene and pornographic productions and their reception, sexual violence and crimes, and the surveillance, control and repression of sexualities, boundaries of the tolerable and of modesty, among others, have continued and broadened the questions opened up in the 1980s and 1990s by the history of the body and the history of sexual sensibilities and representations1. This issue aims to contribute to this broadened historical approach to sexualities. In particular, it will seek to renew certain themes and objects relating to the process of making intimate practices and imaginaries visible through a culturalist perspective.

It is indeed the irruption of sexuality in the public sphere, the intersection and articulation between the intimate and the social that will be at the heart of this issue. The chronological field taken into account is that of the Revue d'histoire culturelle: from the 18th to the 21st century. The articles, presenting an original study based on the exploitation of a documentary corpus, may consider a precise moment included in this span, whether this moment is understood as symptomatic of an epoch or as a turning point, or a period which allows to measure the evolution of the phenomenon. As for the geographical field, it is intended to be as vast as possible: the different cultural areas can be represented, without exclusion, as well as the different systems of political organization (absolute or parliamentary monarchy, liberal democracy, totalitarian or despotic state, communist world...). Finally, all sexualities are considered in this issue, whatever the gender, orientation, age or number of their actors.

Proposals for papers should address at least one of the following two focuses, while not neglecting the intersectional relations of domination at play in sexuality, understood from the perspective of categories of analysis such as "age", "class", "gender", "race", etc. It is a question of studying the way in which sexuality interferes in the stakes of power - political, administrative, economic - between social groups, as well as in asymmetric and hierarchical relations between individuals in the public sphere:

  • The cultural productions relative to sexualities, considered in their contents as much as in their uses and covering, without being limited to it, the erotic, obscene and pornographic productions, as well as the distinction - and the permeability - between these categories of eroticism, obscenity and pornography. From books and magazines to the Internet and social networks, from prints to cinema and television, from songs to stage shows (theater, music hall, cabaret): all the media, in all their materiality, of representation of the sexual imagination can be mobilized for an analysis of the mediation of this imaginary in the social space. The question of the reception and the uses of these productions, as much from their public as from their censors, is also included in this focus.

  • The sexualization of social practices and spaces: how do sexual practices break into public spaces? The aim is to explore the forms of eroticization of social space. Streets, parks and gardens, public transport, theaters, cafés and restaurants, public baths and swimming pools, places of education or work, stadiums and sports clubs, festivals: the original function of these spaces of communal life and socialization is sometimes the object of a diversion, or even an appropriation by individual or collective sexual practices. The social practices linked to some of these spaces can also undergo this phenomenon of diversion by sexual behavior, such as sports, work, artistic activity, etc. The systematization, even the institutionalization of this sexualization, can come in its turn to build and nourish a social imaginary, mediated by the writing and by the image. Besides, these diversions are subject, on the part of the public authorities, to surveillance and a set of actions that range from surveillance to repression.

Proposals for articles, in English or in French, should be sent simultaneously to the following addresses:


• Submission of an abstract (200-250 words) and a short bio-bibliographic record by September 30, 2021.

• Notification to selected authors: October 15, 2021.

• Submission of full papers (6000-9000 words): January 15, 2022.

• Final submission (after taking into account the expertises): March 1, 2022.

• Publication: March 30, 2022.

1 See in particular, for some historiographical clarifications : Sylvie Chaperon, « L'histoire contemporaine des sexualités en France », Vingtième


1 See in particular, for some historiographical clarifications : Sylvie Chaperon, « L'histoire contemporaine des sexualités en France », Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire, 75, 2002, 47-59, ; Anne-Claire Rebreyend, « Comment écrire l’histoire des sexualités au 20e siècle ? », Clio. Histoire‚ femmes et sociétés, 22, 2005, 185-209, ; Régis Revenin, « Les études et recherches lesbiennes et gays en France (1970-2006) », Genre & Histoire, 1, 2007,