Richard Vytniorgu

Postdoctoral Research Associate


I’m a specialist in women’s writing and twentieth-century literature, culture, and pedagogy, but I am also interested in contemporary gay writing, film, and visual culture (including erotica). I completed my undergraduate degree in History and Sociology at Exeter, before moving to Leeds to do an MA in Victorian Studies. I then spent six years in the Midlands, first completing my AHRC-funded PhD in English Literature at De Montfort University (Midlands3Cities) and then taking up a number of posts related to research impact and knowledge exchange. In 2019 I joined Nottingham as an Impact Research Fellow, working primarily on an AHRC-funded project to do with narratives of eating disorders in men. At the same time I had a small Wellcome-funded post-doc at Nottingham, part of which enabled me to begin my work on gender and belonging, focusing here especially on food studies.

Highlights of career to date:

In 2019 I published my first monograph, The Butterfly Hatch: Literary Experience in the Quest for Wisdom–Uncanonically Seating H.D., which was on the modernist writer Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) (1886-1961) and the educational theorist Louise Rosenblatt (1904-2005). In this book (based on my PhD) I explored how aesthetic experience of literature, especially of the past, can lead to exploration of issues usually associated with wisdom. This work challenged prevailing approaches to literature as pseudo-history and argued for the importance of an experiential engagement with literature and its personalising potential.

In 2020 I was also proud to be part of an engaged research project funded by the AHRC, creating an animated training toolkit about eating disorders in men. This work introduced me to engaged research while also deepening my understanding of masculinity studies (as opposed to my previous focus on women’s writing).

Over the years I have also thoroughly enjoyed writing journalism for a range of platforms, including The Independent, The Conversation, and Queer Voices. As of 2020 I am also a book reviewer for The Lady magazine.

Research I will be undertaking at the Centre:

At WCCEH I am primarily working on two related projects to do with loneliness (and, from my perspective, the experience of belonging as well). The first, collaborating with Charlotte Jones and writer Natalie McGrath, explores histories of LGBTQIA+ experiences of loneliness, and the second project continues work begun by Fred Cooper and Charlotte Jones on experiences of loneliness at university.

I am also working on a new monograph exploring the relationship between place and gay male effeminacy in contemporary European film and erotica. I am interested in the ways in which effeminate gay boys and men, who typically experience more marginalization and stigma compared to ‘straight-acting’ or gender-conforming gay men, negotiate effeminophobia (as opposed to homophobia). I am particularly looking at how such boys and men create ways to belong with their gender atypicality–in their bodies, at home, school, nationally, and online. The book synthesises approaches from the life sciences, social sciences, and literary studies, but foregrounds film and gay porn (visual and written) as an arts-based lens through which to explore these broader themes.

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