Hull Critical Love Studies – Research workshop on 24 September 2016

Researchers and PhD candidates from social sciences, cultural studies and clinical psychology at the University of Hull have come together as the Hull CLS group. The goal of this research group is to establish Critical Love Studies as a multidisciplinary field of research at the University of Hull and beyond. In order to achieve this, we are working towards grant capture, a programme of participatory & creative events during the Hull City of Culture 2017 programme, a major international conference in conjunction with the Love Research Network, and a number of publications.

Critical Love Studies, as we understand them, can be expressed by the phrase: Love is what people say it is. First and foremost, this means that we are open-minded, attentive and ready to embrace experiences and representations of love where they occur. In order to understand them we have to ask open-ended questions and to listen closely to nuance. This attitude favours an inductive research methodology rather than following a traditional theory of love.

Furthermore, the phrase above addresses love as something people say and do. Love is relational and it is performative. We have no direct access to the potentiality of all love. Love comes into being in the billions acts of loving which occur at all times. Thirdly, love in its performativity is productive. We reproduce given patterns of loving behaviour and thus reinforce the truth regimes associated with them (love is supposed to be unconditional, love between two non-related adults is supposed to be exclusive, you are supposed to hate the person with whom you are breaking up etc.). Still, changes in love occur in the uncountable acts of non-identical repetition. Like changes to gender roles and gender relations, changes to experiences and representations of love are gradual. This is why each and every act of love is valuable to Critical Love Studies.

The workshop will take place on 24 September 2016 from 10am to 5pm at:

Maritime Historical Studies Centre, Blaydes House, 6 High Street, Hull, HU1 1HA

Attendance is free for registered students and unwaged people. Otherwise it is £30 which covers refreshments and a light lunch as well. The maximum number of participants is thirty.

We will set up a registration page in due course.

Abstracts of the papers will be circulated beforehand. We invite participants to read these abstracts and to contribute to discussions. Send any queries to: M.Gratzke [at] hull ac uk



10.00 Opening remarks

10.15-11.30 Session 1: “Professional Love” – convened by Emma Wolverson (Hull)

Peter Oakes (Doncaster Disability Services): What’s love got to do with it? Long-term support and love by paid staff in psychological health and wellbeing services.

Charlotte Cowell (Hull): The role of care home staff in facilitating continuity of love for couples living with dementia following a transition into residential care.



11.45-13.00 Session 2: “Digital Love” – convened by Susanne Vosmer (Hull)

Olga Mudraya (Huddersfield): Language in online dating by over-50s.

Second speaker TBC

Lunch (provided)


13.45-15.00 Session 3: “Love/Community/Family” – convened by Julie Seymour (Hull)

Jo Britton (Sheffield): Exploring the lives of Muslim Men:  Family, Community and Generation.

Julie Walsh (Sheffield): Community Love: The significance of ‘family’ in a city that is increasingly culturally diverse



15.15-16.00 Paper & discussion: Love+/-Loss. 

Michael Gratzke (Hull): Critical Love Studies and the ends of love.

Wine reception (until 16.45)

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