HDR Roundtable: Ethical or exploitative? The representation of violence and trauma in literature and screen media

Presented by: Bonnie Evans, Taryn Bashford, Jasmine Sandes, Meg Vann

Date: Friday 7 May 2021
Time: 12–1pm
Location: Online via Zoom 


In these traumatic times, marked by a collective experience of the global pandemic, revelations of serial sexual assault and harassment throughout powerful institutions, and videos of racialised police violence, it seems that representations of trauma and traumatic events abound, proliferating across across mediums and genres. These representations have often garnered critical acclaim: Promising Young Woman, a dark comedy drama with rape-revenge themes, recently won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Michaela Coel’s rape-themed drama series I May Destroy You was widely lauded. But equally, these texts are often held to high ethical standards, and criticised when they do not meet them, as occurred with the Netflix TV adaptation of Thirteen Reasons Why, a YA novel and series that deals with sexual assault and suicide. These texts seem to be animated, at least in part, by a sense of ethical responsibility to respond to traumatic events via cultural production. But what are the ethical implications of representing violence and traumatic experiences? Where is the line between ethical representation and exploitation? This roundtable discussion brings together emerging scholars and writers to discuss these questions, considering the political and ethical dimensions of representing trauma and violence in literature and screen media. 


Taryn Bashford is the author of two Young Adult novels, The Harper Effect and The Astrid Notes (Pan Macmillan 2018, 2019). She regularly appears at literary conferences and as an author in residence at high schools, and she works as a writing mentor with the Queensland Writers Centre. Taryn is now writing her PhD in Creative Writing while working as a sessional tutor at the University of Queensland. 

Bonnie Evans is a PhD Candidate and sessional academic at the University of Queensland. Bonnie is President of the SCA student society, the Communication and Arts Postgraduate Society (or CAPS), and her research focuses on the relationship between contemporary feminisms and gendered violence in horror and true crime film and television.  

Jasmine Sandes is a PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland. Her research areas include sexual violence, American women's life writing, and traumatic affect.  

Meg Vann is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at The University of Queensland, where she is also publisher of the innovative Corella Press, specialising in recovered nineteenth-century Australian crime and mystery stories. Meg won the 2018 Dr Melanie McKenzie Teaching Award, and is a research assistant with ‘Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Fiction in the Twenty-First Century’


About Research Seminar and Workshop Series


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 24 March

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Fire Futures: codesigning for resilience

Dr Skye Doherty

Friday, 31 March

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

From Fatigue Studies to Burnout: A Brief History of Work Exhaustion

A/Prof Elizabeth Stephens