Dr Laura Stephenson Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts; Bachelor of Communications (Honours); Masters of Communications; Post Graduate Certificate for Teaching in Higher Education; Doctorate of Philosophy

Dr Laura Stephenson

Lecturer - Advanced Media Production

Department of Theatre, Film & Television Studies

Contact Details


I am a lecturer in the Theatre, Film and Television Studies Department at Aberystwyth University. In my role on the Advanced Media Production project (Cynhyrchu Cyfryngau Uwch) I aim to bring together the oft-divided worlds of theory and practice, by linking screen, psychoanalytic and cultural theory with the experience and expertise of individuals working in the industry. 

Originally training as an editor for film post-production in New Zealand, I went on to post-graduate study where I specialised in gender and queer theory in visual culture at Honours and Masters level. My Doctoral work, which examined a series of cinematic characters, embraced psychoanalytic theory by exploring mental suffering as an inherent aspect of the human condition. Findings included themes of identity, humanity, trauma, and resilience, acknowledging psychological struggle as part of the normative lived experience, rather than extraneous to it. 

My research interests are broadly driven by the notion of suffering as a key aspect of human identity, and in particular, the subject's relationship with their own corporeal reality (through embodiment and aesthetic). I am particularly passionate about explorations of adaptability, survival, and transformation following trauma, and I find that screen characters work as exemplary case studies for explorations of trauma-driven transformation. Upcoming research in this area includes an application of Didier Anzieu's 'skin-ego' to Game of Thrones characters who go through physical (and psychic) transformation, and a Zizekian analysis of the transformed male body as abject site in the AIDS-related films Philadelphia, Dallas Buyers Club and The Normal Heart. 



The combining of modern psychological practice and psychoanalysis is rarely done in academic environments but successfully linking the categorizing capacity of modern psychology with the broader existenialism of psychoanalytic theory is one of my long term research goals. I intend to expand on the contentious juncture between psychoanalytic theory and modern psychology with research which explores anorexia nervosa through a mediated lens, incorporating online and television texts. This research introduces anorexia as a diagnosable psychological disorder under the DSM-V, before psychoanalytically considering anorexia as a psychosis, as affect, as dissociative state, as melancholia and as superego. 


Stephenson, L. (2022). Westworld. In G. Creeber (Ed.). The Television Genre Book (4th ed). British Film Institute [BFI], London, UK.

Stephenson, L. (2022). Fleabag. In G. Creeber (Ed.). The Television Genre Book (4th ed). British Film Institute [BFI], London, UK.

Stephenson, L. (2021). Developing a Code of Conduct for the Screen Industries. In M. Kitchener (Ed.). Handbook for Creating a Gender Sensitive Curriculum: Teaching and Learning Strategies. Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK.

Stephenson, L. (2017). Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: A Dancer, Her Psychosis and the Black Swan of the Real. MEDIANZ Media Studies Journal of Aotearoa New Zealand. (16)2, 65-82.

Papoutsaki, E, Kolesova, E, and Stephenson, L. (2016). Are We Reaching All New Zealanders? Curated proceedings from: The Ethnic Migrant Media Forum 2014. Auckland, New Zealand: ePress Publishing. 


Upcoming Publications

Stephenson, L. (2022). The Mechanism of Self: Identity, Suffering and Psychoanalysis in Cinema. (Book)

Stephenson, L. (2022). Enter the Dragon: Trauma, Transformation and Identity in Lisbeth Salander's Corporeal Reality. (Article)

Stephenson, L. (2022). In Reverence of Memory: The Victim's Honoury Silence Post-Trauma in Brodre and Dragon Tattoo. (Article)


Conference Presentations

Stephenson, L. (2021, June). Weaving the Braid: Exemplar Use in Live Session for Graduate Distance Learners. Aberystwyth Learning and Teaching Conference: Improvisation with Constraint, Reshaping a Learning Community in a Time of Change. University of Aberystwyth, Wales, UK.

Stephenson, L. (2020, January). Advanced Media Production. Digital Past Conference: New Technologies in Heritage, Interpretation and Outreach. University of Aberystwyth, Wales, UK.

Stephenson, L. (2020, March). Sadder, Darker and Alive: Self, Suffering and Psychoanalysis in Cinema. Departmental Seminar; Theatre, Film and Television. University of Aberystwyth, Wales, UK. 

Stephenson, L. (2017, November). Oh Brodre, Where Art Thou? Truth and the Jouissance of the Real in Brodre. Mediating the Real II:Mediation in a Post-Truth Era Conference. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Stephenson, L. (2017, October). A Psychoanalytic Interpretation of the Real and Politicised Corporeal Reality in Black Swan. Lack II: Psychoanalysis and Politics Now. Colorado College, Colorado Springs, USA.

Stephenson, L. (2016, August). Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: A Dancer, Her Psychosis and the Black Swan of the Real. Mediating the Real Conference. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Mentorship: Emma Davies, Associate Lecturer (IBERS) (2020 - )

Editorial Board: Puratoke Journal of Undergraduate Research for the Creative Arts and Industries (2015 - )

Office Hours (Student Contact Times)

  • Friday 2pm-4pm


Stephenson, L 2022, Developing a Workplace Code of Conduct. in M Kitchener (ed.), Handbook for Creating a Gender-Sensitive Curriculum: Teaching and Learning Strategies. GEARING-Roles, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK, pp. 115-118. <https://www.brookes.ac.uk/ocsld/publications/>
Stephenson, L (ed.) 2017, Exploring the Role, Benefits, Challenges & Potential of Ethnic Media in New Zealand. in E Papoutsaki & E Kolesova (eds), Ethnic Migrant Media Forum 2014. ePress, Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 1-92, Ethnic Migrant Media Forum 2014 - Curated Proceedings, Auckland, New Zealand, 13 Nov 2014.
Stephenson, L 2016, 'Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: A Dancer, Her Psychosis, and the Black Swan of the Real', MEDIANZ Media Studies Journal of Aotearoa New Zealand, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 65-82. https://doi.org/10.11157/medianz-vol16iss2id209
More publications on the Research Portal