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Photo of Dr Richard Vytniorgu

Dr Richard Vytniorgu

Postdoctoral Research Associate

I am a British-Romanian writer and academic who studies narratives of wisdom and belonging, and I teach literature of the nineteenth century to the present day.
I also have interests in gender and sexuality, and try to learn from the sciences in my work as much as the arts and humanities.
Time-wise, my research has been focused on the late-Victorian era to the present day. My first monograph (2019) was on the modernist writer, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.). I am now working mostly on contemproary gay literature, film and erotica (including pornography), but I am also interested in post-war British women's food writing and small-'c' conservatism. 
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Research interests

Narratives of wisdom
My first book, published in 2019, (The Butterfly Hatch) was on the modernist writer Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) (1886-1961) and the educational theorist Louise Rosenblatt (1904-2005), in which I explored how aesthetic experience of literature, especially of the past, can lead to exploration of issues usually associated with wisdom.
I defined wisdom as a mix of self-knowledge, life management, and insight into human experiences which are shared across cultures. 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.
I have also published on other twentieth-century women writers interested in creativity and tradition, such as Virginia Woolf, Ottoline Morrell, and Elizabeth David (forthcoming).
Narratives of belonging
From 2019-21 I worked on an AHRC- and Wellcome-funded project with Heike Bartel and Una Foye at the University of Nottingham on narratives of eating disorders in men, culminating in an animated training tool co-produced with men with lived experiences of eating disorders.
I am now working on a number of projects related to narratives of belonging, most of which are engaged research projects which utilise literary forms such as poetry, theatre, and film to explore experiences of belonging and sexuality. At the University of Exeter I am part of an AHRC-funded project on LGBTQIA+ loneliness and belonging.
Place and Gay Male Effeminacy
My next monograph explores the importance of place in shaping narratives of gay male effeminacy in contemporary European film and erotica (since 2010). This work highlights the importance of place in shaping how gender-nonconforming gay males negotiate a sense of belonging--in their bodies, the home, school, nation, and online.
The work shows how for some effeminate gay males (and particularly for bottoms), fantasy narratives of being born like this or hard-wired in their sexuality constitute an important form of belonging with their sexual behaviour and identity, and speaks to emerging scientific work in support of biodevelopmental pathways to different kinds of gayness.


Research collaborations

2021: AHRC EDI Fellowship on LGBTQIA+ Loneliness, with Dr Charlotte Jones (PI), based in the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health


2019-21: AHRC Follow-on funding: Consider Eating Disorders in Men, with Dr Heike Bartel (PI, University of Nottingham) and Dr Una Foye (Co-I, King's College London). 


'Dating Amber: Cute but predictable' (film review), The Gay UK (July 27, 2020)
'Can you be a conservative gay?', Queer Voices (July 21, 2020)
'“Comforting and comfortable”: Lockdown thoughts from a food writer’, The Independent (July 4, 2020) 
‘Aim High and Involve Others: Impact Top Tips’, Arts and Minds – AHRC blog (June 18, 2020) 
‘Belonging through food: Some lockdown thoughts from Britain’s renowned food writer Elizabeth David’, The Conversation (June 2, 2020) 
‘Elizabeth David on Food and Belonging: Keeping house during a lockdown’, Future Food Beacon (May 5, 2020) 
‘A Creative Approach to Engaging with Male Eating Disorders: Animating the Patient-Doctor Encounter in Clinical Settings’, Future Food Beacon (January 23, 2020) 
‘A tale of two twinks, or a quest for sustainable models’, Queer Voices (August 2, 2019) 
‘How to queer your next visit to an art gallery’, Queer Voices (July 21, 2019) 
‘Knowing as We Are Known: The Transactional Approach to Science’, Faith in Scholarship (January 22, 2018) 
‘Is it time to revisit gay labels?’, The Gay UK (January 17, 2018) 
‘A Dynamic Ecosystem: The Transactional Approach to Science (2)’, Faith in Scholarship (January 8, 2018) 
‘Self and the World: The Transactional Approach to Science (1)’, Faith in Scholarship (December 11, 2017) 
‘Sisyphus’s Labour: Remembering Who(se) We Are (a holiday guide)’, Faith in Scholarship (June 5, 2017) 
‘A Tangled Trio: Ottoline Morrell’, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature blog (May 18, 2017) 
‘To be Gay is to be a Person: Why Real Orthodoxy Liberates—a Romanian Case Study’, The Balkanist (April 21, 2017) 
‘God’s workers?’, Faith in Scholarship (March 20, 2017) 
‘Nationalism and Orthodox Nominalism’, (January 17, 2017) 
‘Bukovinian, Romanian, or European? Beyond Citizenship’, (July 1, 2016) 
‘Culture, Pluralistic Knowing, and Mutual Understanding’, Faith in Scholarship (June 20, 2016) 
‘The Future of the English PhD’, The Academic Book of the Future blog (February 8, 2016) 



2014-17 PhD English Literature (De Montfort University) -- AHRC-Midlands3Cities funded

2011-13 MA Victorian Studies (Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies) 

2008-11 BA (Hons) History and Society (University of Exeter)