Gratzke, Michael



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Personal profile


I studied at the University of Hamburg for my undergraduate degree and doctorate, and have worked at Cambridge, St Andrews, Hull and now Dundee. My background is in German literature, but I have subsequently changed designation to Comparative Literature which reflects better my approach which is informed by themes, tropes and transformations rather than nationalist imaginations of individual, single-language traditions.

Apart from teaching and researching in these fields, I have been working in various academic leadership roles at School, Faculty and University level such as Head of School, Associate Dean for Research, Director of Educational Transformation and Director of the Doctoral College.

At Dundee my focus is on leading the Doctoral Academy.



I do not currently teach on UG or PGT programmes, as my job as the Academic Director of the Doctoral Academy keeps me busy.


I work across genres of "high" and "popular" culture. My work combines methodologies from the arts & humanities and social sciences. In terms of themes, my research explores representations of gendered subjectivity in literature, on film and on the Internet. I am particularly interested in the aesthetic representation of extreme experiences and altered states of mind such as in war, love and masochism. I am currently working on a comparative study of 'romantic' love and intimacy (erotically charged intimate love between non-related adults) in 21st century literature. My comparative work addresses German-, English- and Finnish-language prose. I facilitate community-based participatory research into love and 'healthy relationships'.

My own creative practice sits in the realm of DIY culture. I describe myself as a zine maker rather than a creative writer.


Research interests

Love Research, Relationships Research, History of Emotions, DIY Cultures, Popular Culture, Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, Modern Literature, Critical Theory, Queer Theory, Comparative Literature, Creative Writing, Gender History, Comparative Cultural Studies, Participatory Research

If you are interested in PhD supervision or research collaboration, please contact me via email. I welcome PhD project proposals in German and comparative literature or cultural studies on any period from the 1750s onwards. Ideas for contemporary studies are also very welcome. Your research interests should broadly match mine so that you can get the most out of my supervision.

I especially welcome applicants with an interest in researching experiences of love which involve issues of physical disability, mental health, non-neurotypical people, non-conformist expressions of gender or sexualilty, age (young & old), or migration.

The following (non-funded) project is advertised through the 100 PhDs initiative:

Life transitions in the lifespan of LGBTQI+ people in Edinburgh. Participatory research through creative expression.

The primary objective of this PhD project is to work with young people and older people in Edinburgh on enhancing communication, exchange and shared community experience focussing on those who identify in various, partly generationally specific ways as lesbian, gay, bi, non-binary, trans, queer, intersex or in other ways as non-conforming with heteronormative expectations. The lived experiences of older and younger generations from these cohorts and communities differ greatly due to changing social circumstances, politics, legislation, physical and virtual spaces which facilitate individual expression and shared community building.

This project is interdisciplinary in the sense that it combines a structured social-sciences approach to participatory research methodologies, creative-writing approaches to community engagement, and a shared intellectual interest in life transitions.


It will address the conventional shortfalls which occur when these approaches are taken separately. These are a lack of appreciation for the aesthetic craft and nuance of creative writing from the perspective of social sciences, and limited understanding of a systematic approach to participatory research and its evaluation common in creative writing approaches to community engagement.


Working in the field at Edinburgh’s Citadel youth centre, the PG researcher will co-develop a programme of work addressing life transitions in the lifespan of LGBTQI+ people from the perspectives of younger and older people. This aligns with the Citadel’s new strategic direction to engage with older people as well and to encourage them to interact with the young people who frequent the youth club.


We anticipate that one of the outcomes will be to equip participants and staff at the Citadel with the skills to offer a sustainable programme of workshops in which creative writing is used to make voices heard which may normally not be heard. Benefits may include better mental health outcomes for a wider range of LGBTQI+ people in the region and the intersection documentation of life transitions as the opposite ends of the lifespan.


Dr Mei Lan Fang is an expert in participatory research methodology. Her past research has focused on progressing community-based participatory research concepts, theory, and methods for working with and for older people to enhance age-related health and social outcomes.


Professor Michael Gratzke is professor of comparative literature and a world-leading researcher into love and relationships. He has previously worked with community groups using creative writing and practice-as-research methods to examine complex emotions. His own creative practice falls into the realm of zine making, in particular making personal zines, i.e; self-published pamphlets exploring life transitions.


This PGR project will enhance the skills of the successful candidate by offering a dual perspective on community engagement and practice-as-research which is more than the sum of its parts. The successful PGR
will develop enhanced skills as a social-sciences researcher in the field of participatory research and as a creative writer in the area of community engagement.


For more information about the Love Research Network, see


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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