Taylor Westmacott

Taylor Westmacott

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

Hi! I'm Taylor, an MPhil candidate and early career researcher working in the Department of English, Creative Writing, & Film.

Broadly, my research engages with narrative and media ecology: My Master's thesis positions literature and cinema against True Crime and news media, for instance, to grade cultural responses to death and delinquency against potential and historic Humanisms. In the context of emergent media forms, I am interested in the ways in which particular biological and cultural mechanisms (psychosexual development and individuation, television and the internet, belonging and isolation, irony and faith) inform acts of extremist violence.

I worked in industrial/corporate video as a writer and assistant producer between 2017-20.

I am a member of UofA's ALLY Network and the AUJS's Society: If you're an undergraduate student facing academic/wellness concerns, or find yourself lost on the North Terrace campus, I invite you to come have a no pressure chat anytime during semester, and I can aid/direct or escalate as appropriate. You can find my email below; I'm located in Napier.

POSTGRADS, I'm more than happy to help dispel confusion with any of our tools/software: Milestone/CCSP, Onboarding/SSO/CAPS, scholarship and casual vacancy portals, & grading/tutoring tools, etc.

The Id-cel Manifest

Can I make a movie about your dead relative? What if they were a public figure? What if they'd only become a public figure for the fact they were indiscriminately - and brutally - murdered?

At face, these questions do little to help conversations on gun violence.

This thesis inquires upon four periods of discourse and media ecology [Ireland, the Troubles; North America, 1999-2003; Australia, 1996-2003, 2019-present], as well as their counterpart in a cinematic counterficition [Elephant (1989), Elephant (2003), Nitram (2021)].

These seemingly discordant means of history making implicate myriad issues of concern for the cultural reception of the death drive in male delinquents. Through their juxtaposition, alongside the application of Jean Baudrillard’s symbolic death and Julia Kristeva's psychoanalytic ontology, this thesis aims to highlight the coercive political potentials of these martyr-narratives in an age of extinctions.



The Body Count Paradox

Body count is a privileged datum: a fetish of the journalists.

Although body count is an essential factor in mass death events, methods of reporting, categorising, and interrogating these events need not be to reduced to it. Such is revealed in comparing the media practices in Australia and New Zealand in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 Christchurch massacre, an historic event which remains unaddressed of its full plunder of practical media ecologies.

Resistance against reporting (and over-reporting) statements of fact pertaining to the Christchurch assailant’s identity and writings, as well as his crime's eventual body count, constitute an implicit recognition on New Zealand’s part towards the archaic practices at the heart of the news reporter’s codex-instincts. New Zealand's media here provides a general schema for future critique of political aesthetic registers; it reveals a propensity for gaps between national policies of social offence and the machinations of 'national interest' reporting and true crime journalism.

In mass death events, the direct counterpart to fatality is not the number of survivors, but casualty. Fatality, pertaining to death, a binary state, is necessarily quantitative, its clarity cuts right through the malaise and ambiguity at the heart of these catastrophes; harm, in contrast, is nebulous.

In mass death events, casualty is typically reduced to mean those wounded during the event itself. This chapter further stresses the importance of wider definitions of harm. Appealing specifically to the phenomena of school shootings, it asks: (how) should parents of children killed at Sandy Hook who go on to commit suicide be measured in relation to the body count? Beyond merely evading the closure of quantitative facts (which is their essence), this approach facilitates coherent mourning in its very aversion to closure. More fully does this recognise the abrupt transience of harm in relation to traumatic mourning: the causalities of mass murder are still ongoing. Wider tools of empathy and understanding can here only be achieved when individual victims are themselves untethered from the totalising structure of the body count.

  • Book Chapters

    Year Citation
    2024 Westmacott, T. (2024). The Body Count Paradox: a case against reporting the facts. In K. Barclay (Ed.), Numbers and the Self.
  • Theses

    Year Citation
    2024 Westmacott, T. (2024). The Id-cel Manifest: Columbining Elephant (2003) and Nitram (2021).

[CULST1001] Approaches to Culture

[ENGL1101] Introduction to English Literature, [CRWR2068] Script-Writing

  • Community Engagement

    Date Title Engagement Type Institution Country
    2021 - 2021 Year 10 Careers Workshop (Film Studies & Creative Writing) Public Community Engagement The University of Adelaide -
  • Event Participation

    Date Event Name Event Type Institution Country
    2022 - 2022 William Gaddis Centenary Conference Washington University in St Louis -
    2022 - 2022 Master Class with Hua Nguyen Workshop The University of Adelaide -
    2022 - 2022 ECWF Post-Graduate Conference 2022 Symposium The University of Adelaide -
    2021 - 2021 ECWF Post-Graduate Conference 2021 Symposium The University of Adelaide -

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