Laura Stephenson


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Personal profile


Current Role - Course Leader: BA Honours Film

I am a Senior Lecturer in Film and Media at the University of South Wales. In my role as Course Leader of the BA (Honours) Film I aim to bring together the oft-divided worlds of film theory and practice, by linking screen, psychoanalytic and cultural theory with creative, artistic and practical skillsets. 


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. During the completion of my Doctoral research I continued to work part time in the industry in pre-production roles including producer, ethics adviser, script editor, festival adjudicator (and stepping in occasionally as a performer!)

Research interests

Screen Theory

My theory-based 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. 

Medical Humanities

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 existentialism 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.  

Teaching interests

Current Teaching at University of South Wales

BA (Honours) Film:

  • FV1S34 Theory 1: Film History
  • FV1S37 Theory 2: Film Language
  • FV3S26 Industry Ready
  • FV3D17 Advanced Filmmaking 1: Specialisation
  • FV3S25 Advanced Theory: Screenwriting for Fiction

Prior Teaching: Aberystwyth University

Masters Advanced Media Production: 

  • TFM0120 Gender and Media Production
  • TFM0320 Narrative and Affect
  • TFM0220 Digital Cultures
  • TFM6420 Introduction to Media Production
  • CSM0960 Dissertation

Early career teaching: University of Auckland & AUT

BA, Film & Television; Bachelor of Communications:

  • Film Studies
  • Creative Screen Writing
  • Communication, Technology and Culture 
  • Advertising and Society 
  • Hollywood and Its Others 
  • National Cinema and Indigenous Film 
  • Popular Culture



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

Education/Academic qualification

PGCTHE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching for Higher Education), Aberystwyth University

Award Date: 22 Feb 2022

PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy), University of Auckland

Award Date: 1 Jun 2019

MCs (Masters of Communications), Auckland University of Technology

Award Date: 1 Jun 2012

BCs-Hons (Bachelor of Communications - Honours), Auckland University of Technology

Award Date: 1 Aug 2010

BPSA (Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts: Editing), Unitec Institute of Technology

Award Date: 1 Apr 2008

External positions

Festival Adjudicator (2021-2022), Essex Doc Fest

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) (2021- ), Higher Education Academy, The

Editorial Board (2015-2022), Puratoke Journal of Undergraduate Research for the Creative Arts and Industries

Funding Board (2021-2022), South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWWDTP)

Festival Adjudicator (2019-2022), Top of the South Film Festival


  • WE Cultural and Media Studies
  • screen
  • film
  • cinema
  • television
  • fiction
  • adaptation
  • representation
  • aesthetics
  • editing
  • post-production
  • production ethics
  • BF Psychology
  • psychoanalysis
  • trauma
  • memory
  • Kristeva
  • Zizek
  • Lacan
  • identity
  • RZ Other systems of medicine
  • medical humanities
  • psychiatry
  • psychoanalysis
  • women's health
  • pain
  • chronic illness
  • psychological health


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