Richard Vytniorgu © 2020
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I am a British-Romanian writer, literary scholar, and early career academic in the UK. A specialist in women's writing and twentieth-century literature, culture, and pedagogy, I am also interested in contemporary gay writing, film, and visual culture (including erotica).
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. 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 am now embarking on two projects related to the experience of gender and belonging.
The first explores how food writer Elizabeth David (1913-1992) influenced, and was influenced by, a small-c conservative political culture of belonging. By reviving traditional food cultures (Mediterranean and English), David intersected broader attemps by women food writers of the postwar era to offer a different kind of conservative belonging to the 1950s 'happy housewife'. This project offers the first sustained analysis of David's conservatism and will be the first to explore postwar conservatism from the perspective of food, expanding our understanding of women's postwar conservatism and its connection to place.
My second area of work explores the importance of place in shaping representations of gay male effeminacy in contemporary European film and erotica (since 2010). Developing the concept of 'effeminate belonging', I am interested in how film and erotica imagine ways for effeminate gay men to belong -- to identities, locations, communities, and their own bodies -- which can be empowering as well as addressing the challenge of effeminophobia, especially among rural settings. This work will connect existing scientific and social-scientific studies on effeminate gay males (including self-identified gay bottoms) to contemporary literary and artistic representations of gay male effeminacy, highlighting the importance of the imagination for fostering modes of effeminate belonging.
I also continue to write journalism for a range of national and international platforms on topics such as culture, gay sexuality, citizenship, religion, and food, and I review books for The Lady magazine.
My research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
I am currently Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter, and Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Cultures, Languages, and Area Studies at the University of Nottingham, and I teach Academic Writing at Coventry University. From 2019-21 I was Impact Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, where I collaborated on public engagement activities related to an AHRC Networking Grant on narratives of eating disorders in men.
Previously, I have taught literature at the University of Leicester (2015-18) and De Montfort University (2017), and delivered lectures on modernism at Edge Hill University and the University of Valencia.
In 2017 I was also a Visiting Fellow at Veliko Tarnovo University in Bulgaria.
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Aacademy, supporting excellence in teaching and learning.
In 2020 I was shortlisted for the Mollie Salisbury Cup, an annual memoir competition in memory of Lady Salisbury.