Programme & Abstracts – Hull Critical Love Studies workshop

 

 

24 September 2016, 10am-5pm, Blaydes House, 6 High Street, Hull, HU1 1HA

Register here

 

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.

Coffee/tea

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

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

Jo Bell & Louis Bayley (Hull): Online expressions of love in the face of grief.

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

Coffee/tea

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

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

 

 

Peter Oakes, What’s love got to do with it? Long-term support and love by paid staff in psychological health and wellbeing services.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Psychotherapy Section of the British Psychological Society back in 1995, David Smail drew on his earlier publications and suggested that:

“One of the principal things, and sometimes the only thing, psychotherapy – even good psychotherapy – offers its clients is a commodity which is not widely or plentifully available elsewhere: that is, love.” (Smail, 1995, p 1)

In this presentation, we seek to consider whether an acknowledgement of the primacy of relationship and specifically, love, might enhance our understanding and delivery of services for people – especially people who, as a result of old age, long term mental health need or disability, require the long term support and love of paid staff.

 

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

Objectives: Dementia care is most commonly provided by spouses, suggesting that caregiving may be an act of love. The experience of love has so far not been explored in dementia research, and very little is known about spouses’ experiences of love when their spouse diagnosed with dementia moves into residential care, and how care home staff may be involved in facilitating this.  A qualitative study was therefore conducted to explore the experiences and meaning of love in relationships for spouses married to a person living with dementia following a transition into residential care.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine older adults who were married to a partner diagnosed with dementia who lived in residential care. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to understand the subjective lived experiences of love in the participants’ relationships.

Results: Overall, the analysis identified three super-ordinate themes which highlighted the tensions faced within love and relationships for participants’ and their spouses, with progression of dementia and the transition into care. Love could be identified through the performative action of care, which became a natural addition to the relationship as the dementia progressed. Following a transition into care, participants identified that care homes often play a key role in either facilitating or hindering continuity of their caring role, and as such, contribute to the continuity of love.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that the ‘capital’ of love underpins couples’ experiences of relationships, but that tensions exist through progression of dementia and the transition into care. Further understanding is needed about how care homes can support couples to sustain love and couplehood within their relationships.

 

Olga Mudraya, Language in online dating by over-50s.

This paper reports on a case study examining key words and key semantic domains in the data collected from the online classified ads on Telegraph.co.uk dating website called KindredSpirits in 2008. Wmatrix web-based corpus processing software tool for linguistic analysis was used in order to compare the language of men looking for women, men looking for men, women looking for women, and women looking for men. The age group under investigation is the over-50s.

Linguistic research into the language of online dating ads is still scarce. The vocabulary and semantics of the online dating ads have not yet been investigated, although a number of studies in psychology and evolutionary anthropology have identified important personal trait categories, such as age, physical attractiveness, resources (current or future earning potential), and commitment to the relationship (Bereczkei & Csanaky 1996; Bereczkei et al. 1997; Greenlees & McGrew 1994; Wiederman 1993), as well as entertainment and social skills (Miller 1998). Robin Dunbar was involved in a series of evolutionary psychology investigations of different categories of words in Lonely Hearts advertisements (Waynforth & Dunbar 1995; Pawłowski & Dunbar 1999a; Pawłowski & Dunbar 1999b; Pawłowski & Dunbar 2001) that found that men and women attached different levels of importance to the following five categories of traits: attractiveness, resources, commitment, social skills and sexiness.

This case study compares the results arrived at using Wmatrix with those in Pawłowski and Dunbar (2001) findings. In this study, all five of Pawłowski and Dunbar’s categories appear as statistically significant key semantic domains, although only one of them – social skills (particularly, good sense of humour) – is among the five most statistically significant. Being happy, energetic and enjoying life come at the top of our list. Similarly to Pawłowski and Dunbar’s (2001) study, sexiness is not statistically significant in either of the heterosexual groups, although sexual relationship is statistically significant for homosexual men; however, even in this subgroup, general relationships based on friendship appear to be more important than sexual relationship. These findings may also support Daneback’s (2006) claim that people over 50 use the internet less for sexual purposes.

 

Jo Bell & Louis Bayley, Online expressions of love in the face of grief.

This paper presents findings from recent qualitative research which focused on the online memorialisation of those who have died by suicide. It draws on data from ten individuals who have experience of creating and maintaining Facebook sites dedicated to the memory of loved ones – a child, a sibling or a friend – who have died by suicide.

Data indicated that Facebook enables the deceased to be an on-going active presence in the lives of the bereaved, with many examples of participants saying that they continue to communicate with the deceased via their Facebook accounts as if they were still alive. Keeping the deceased alive on Facebook was a way of working against loss.

This presentation explores the various ways in which Facebook has been used in the aftermath of a suicide and highlights the frequency of communication, what sentiments are expressed and how activity changes over time. Particular focus is given to how making or contributing to sites provides a unique way for the bereaved to experience the presence of their loved one, express their love for those they have lost, and stay connected the deceased.

 

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

Despite a sustained research focus on Muslims, relatively little is known about the emotional lives of Muslim men. Evidence shows that the recent child sexual exploitation crisis in Rotherham has had a detrimental effect on community relations and a distinct impact on local Muslim men. My current research is exploring how Muslim men have been affected by the crisis in gender- and generationally- specific ways and how it has impacted on gender and generational relations within both their family and local community.  In-depth qualitative interviews with Muslim men and women provide a unique opportunity to explore Muslim men’s emotional lives and intimate, affective relationships.  This involves paying close attention to discursive, performative and relational aspects of love that preliminary fieldwork indicates are likely to feature in my research participants’ accounts of their everyday lived experiences in the wake of the crisis. My paper raises the question of how a critical research focus on love can help to challenge the persistent problem-centred focus on Muslim men and related dominant representations of Muslim men as key repositories of violence.

 

 

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

Migration, and community cohesion, are salient issues in UK communities.  There is, however, little academic focus on the role of ‘families’ in supporting positive connectivity between diverse populations.  This paper, therefore, explores community connectivity – community love – through the lens of family display; the concept that family life must not only be done but also be seen to be done (Finch, 2007) if a family is to be recognised as legitimate.  Drawing on empirical research, this paper applies this conceptual development in family life to the UK based experiences of both migrant and indigenous residents of Hull, an increasingly culturally diverse Northern UK city.  This paper argues that, in the context of migration, both family members and external audiences need to recognise what is being conveyed during migrant family displays – and to accept them – for these displays to be understood as familial and, thereby, support community connectivity.  Migrant families are, however, subject to the gaze of multiple audiences that are external to the immediate family; audiences that are influenced by culturally located, sometimes conflicting discourses, relating to family and/or migration.  This paper therefore highlights where such discourses can both support or limit positive community connectivity.

 

Michael Gratzke, Critical Love Studies and the ends of love.

In this paper I will explore the relationship between love and loss in some Grand Narratives of love theory. In these loss does not necessarily mark the end of love. Some forms of loss are conceptualised as the beginning of a desire to be completed. Other powerful cultural tropes include the culmination of love in loss and the survival of love beyond loss.

I will link these love mythemes to recent work on the establishment of Critical Love Studies as a distinct approach to research into love. Focussing on romantic love (erotically charged intimate love), I will outline an affirmative approach to loss which acknowledges that human love is not eternal.

Rather than giving any firm answers, this paper will invite a discussion on further research to be conducted on the relationships between various forms of love and loss in the future. Hull Critical Love Studies is planning to run a set of events during 2017 to coincide with the City of Culture programme.

 

 

Hull workshop programme (24 September 2016)

PROGRAMME

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.

Coffee/tea

 

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

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

Jo Bell & Louis Bayley (Hull): Online expressions of love in the face of grief.

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

Coffee/tea

 

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

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

Wine reception (until 16.45)

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

 

PROGRAMME

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.

Coffee/tea

 

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

Coffee/tea

 

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

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

Wine reception (until 16.45)

Hull workshop: Critical Love Studies

Save the date:
Hull Critical Love Studies will hold a workshop on 24 September 2016 in Hull (naturally) with three strands: professional love (in care professions), digital love, and love – migration – family.

There will be a high-profile keynote and a discussion on our research focus for Hull City of Culture 2017 which is going to be LOVE +/- LOSS.

More information will be released over the summer.

research group: Hull Critical Love Studies

http://lovenetwork.hull.ac.uk/cls.htm

Critical Love Studies

Researchers and PhD candidates from social sciences, cultural studies and 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 repetition in differance. Like changes to gender roles and gender relations, changes to experiences and representations of love are gradual. This why each and every act of love is valuable to Critical Love Studies.

Current members of the CLS research group are:

Julie Seymour is a family sociologist working in the Hull York Medical School. Her recent research addresses ways in which people “display” their family bonds in public and semi-public settings. She has also been working with staff at the HYMS anatomy unit and families of body donors exploring the emotional labour involved in liaising with the loved ones of recently deceased people.

Julie Walsh is a PhD candidate who has been supervised by Julie Seymour. Her thesis on migrant families and “displaying” family bonds in Hull has been submitted. She is particularly interested in indigenous audience responses to migrant family display and if these “displays” subsequently help to “legitimise” the presence of migrant communities in (semi) public discourse.

Johanna Spiers holds a doctorate in psychology from the Birkbeck University of London. Her specialism is qualitative health research in psychology. She has previously worked with people living with and being treated for end stage renal disease and people who use ileostomy bags. She has extensive expertise in Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), psychological analysis of poetry as well as creative writing. Her interest in love research lies in an exploration of love over a lifespan.

Emma Wolverson, is a practising Clinical Psychologist and a lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Social Care. Her research is informed by Positive Psychology and aims to help people to live well – in particular in circumstances which are commonly perceived to be extremely difficult if not void of hope. She has been working with people living with dementia and their partners, and is critical of attempts to describe dementia solely in relation to loss and decline.

Charlotte Cowell is a PhD candidate who has been supervised by Emma Wolverson. Her thesis looks at love in spousal caregiving. She has been working with couples where one partner has dementia using methods such as photo elicitation. She has found that talking about love often leads to emotional reactions such as displays of affection towards the spouse who has dementia. In this context, the interviewing process in itself may be described as a positive intervention.

Catherine Vulliamy is a PhD student in Gender Studies at the University of Hull. Her work is on the relationship between love and sexuality, and seeks to explore cultural meanings, understandings and constructions of both sexual orientation and love. She is particularly, but not exclusively, interested in the meanings and influence of love in the context of ‘fluid’ and ‘non-normative’ sexual desire, orientation and/or practice.

Michael Gratzke is Professor of German and Comparative Literature who has been working in the wider field of cultural studies. He has previously researched representations of love and masochism in literature from the 1770s to the late 20th century and heroism of sacrifice from the mid-18th century to the present. His research into love in contemporary life is comparative in its scope covering English, German and Finnish texts; and it seeks to lessen the gap between research into high literature and popular cultures. He is the founder of the Love Research Network.

l

Love at face value. Popular romance and the future of Critical Love Studies.

by Michael Gratzke, University of Hull

Popular Culture research in general and Popular Romance Studies in particular have been hampered by the aesthetic bias which constitutes traditional literary scholarship and related disciplines. As a researcher interested in Popular Romance one has to declare themselves as a closeted fan or to situate the research in a context which allegedly justifies the choice of primary material for the study of something which is assumed to sit outside the aesthetic form of Popular Romance. This may include sociological or psychological questions regarding changing social attitudes or mechanisms of disseminating a heteronormative mind-set. This bias is paralleled in love research where most love theories aim to explain something which is not love: Freud looks at love as a surface phenomenon to sexuality. Luhmann argues that love relationships translate social values into everyday behaviour. Bourdieu describes social monogamy as a stabilising mechanism in class society. When we study Popular Romance or love in its own right, we have to address the suspicion that we engage in something trivial, superficial or even frivolous.

The emphasis on an assumed lower aesthetic value of artefacts associated with Popular Culture is a truth regime which aims to isolate traditional literary scholarship from issues of consumer capitalism. By demonizing market forces and associating them only with “low-brow” mass culture, we prevent ourselves from looking at the productive and creative outcomes of consumer capitalism across the board. In love research very few authors, such as Eva Illouz, acknowledge that consumer capitalism from its beginnings in the 19th century has not just been a force which colonises some kind of original, authentic love but in fact a dispositf which produces love. No form of artistic expression operates outside the framework of consumer capitalism. The aesthetic bias has been to a degree overcome in the study of fan fiction which is sometimes deemed to be superior to Popular Romance because of the apparent creativity of non-professional writers who assemble texts as a bricolage from the vast array of characters, “universes” and story-lines available commercially. The ultra-low budget of online publication is on occasion cast as some kind of rebellion against the system.

We also need to query the assumption that a higher degree of aesthetic complexity magically stimulates a critical, subversive potential in readers or viewers. If we take a very famous novel of the early 19th century, Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, we cannot help noticing that it reinforces a bourgeois and heteronormative agenda precisely by taking the protagonist and its readers through a bewildering journey involving crossdressing noblewomen, a hermaphrodite, incestuous love and the failure to get one’s finances in order. Wilhelm, cleansed of his homoerotic desires and dreams of running a theatre, finally decides to become respectable and to train as a surgeon.

The basic tenets of Critical Love Studies, as I 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 creativity, diversity and originality where ever they may be in evidence. You may be following a prescribed pattern if you buy a Valentine’s card and overpriced roses but this does not mean that I understand what these actions mean to you and the object of your affection. In order to find out I have to ask open-ended questions and to listen closely to your nuance. This attitude favours an inductive research methodology. 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. This includes the millions of words written about love and the hundreds of thousands of minutes spent engaging with them. Finally, 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 repetition in differance. Like changes to gender roles and gender relations, changes to experiences and representations of love are gradual. This why each episode of a hastily produced telenovela is as valuable to the study of Popular Romance as it is to Critical Love Studies.