Taylor Westmacott

Taylor Westmacott

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

I'm an MPhil Candidate in the Department of English, Creative Writing, & Film.

My current work—'Violence, Boredom, Extinction: Artistic Depictions of Symbolic Death and Masculine Delinquency'—explores new, old, and emergent humanisms through the critical analysis of literature and cinema. I am interested in the ways in which particular biological and cultural mechanisms (psychosexual development and individuation, television and the internet, belonging and isolation) inform acts of extremist violence.

With my research based in the emergent phenomena of "incels," I hope to destabilise some of the categorical assumptions surrounding the motivations of male delinquents—celibacy not least of all—and reclaim the broader question at hand: Why are children shooting children?

I worked as a writer and producer in South Australia's corporate film industry between 2017-20.

I publish novels, short stories, and poems under pseudonyms and anonymously.

I am also a Volunteer Librarian at a South Australian men's prison.

Violence, Boredom, Extinction: Artistic Depictions of Symbolic Death and Masculine Delinquency

Delinquency and a resentment of one’s own society can develop throughout any stage of adolescence, and has a litany of influences. This work examines two broad intersections of influence—violence and boredom—within the greater context of contemporary planetary extinctions. 

In order to reexamine the various meanings and implications of 'extinction', the thesis draws upon artistic and cultural artefacts constructed throughout two historical turning-points.

The first of these turning-points, nuclear extinction, is explored in the post-war corpus of Yukio Mishima. The second, a more nebulous, almost ‘background’ extinction, arrives in the fallout of globalisation, material surplus, and secular positivism, and is assessed via fictional accounts of adolescent mass violence. These works include Lionel Shriver’s novel We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003) and its film adaptation, directed by Lynne Ramsay (2011), as well as Gus Van Sant’s Elephant (2003), Frida & Lasse Barkfors' Raising a School Shooter (2021), and Justin Kurzel's Nitram (2021). 

These seemingly discordant turning-points and narratives implicate identical motivations in the death impulse of male delinquents. Through their juxtaposition, alongside the application of Jean Baudrillard’s symbolic death and Julia Kristeva's psychoanalytic ontology, this thesis ultimately contributes to the dialogue of several disciplines—moral philosophy, gender theory, psychoanalysis—and aims to highlight the coercive political potential of death in an age of extinctions.

2022, Semester 1
Approaches to Culture

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