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Violence, Harm and Trauma Research Group

The Violence, Harm and Trauma Research Group is based in the School of Humanities at York St John University.

This research group will investigate violence, harm, and trauma through a historical, social, cultural, and psychological lens to think about the ways in which we explain, rationalise, and represent horrific acts.

These might include brutality that humans inflict upon one another or in contact with non-human agents, in addition to the violence associated with animals, landscape and disaster.

In recent years, historians of captivity and mental health, but also criminologists and forensic mental health professionals have highlighted new perspectives to explore mediated and lived experiences of harm, violence, and trauma.

Using studies of coercion, mental health, memory, mourning, gender, race, society, but also material, visual and popular cultures, this group will explore the ways in which violence, harm, and trauma overlap, but also the ways in which they can be understood, depicted, and decoded as distinct spheres of injury, suffering and emotional responses, including disgust and shame. In doing so, the research group will offer a platform to examine historical changes in what behaviours, situations, beings (human or non-human) and narratives have been understood as 'harmful', 'violent' and/or 'traumatic', and how such constructions might provide an insight into wider societal and cultural phenomena.

The group will begin as an interdisciplinary combination of active researchers from History, American studies, English Literature and Film studies, with the intention of expanding to include researchers from other disciplines within and beyond the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The group will provide a friendly and supportive space comprising of academics and postgraduate researchers, offering a safe and inclusive environment to discuss emerging research ideas, present research papers, prepare funding bids, and coordinate public engagement events/outputs.

Research strands may include (current research projects by group members):

  • Fashion and harmful objects (for example, corsets)
  • Trauma in crime fiction
  • Capture and experiences of war captivity
  • 'Harmful insects' in colonial experiences and print culture
  • Shellshock during WW1
  • Horror and slasher films

Group members

Dr Sarah Trott

Group leader, Senior Lecturer

American Studies, History

Dr Elodie Duché

Group leader, Senior Lecturer


Dr Anne-Marie Evans

Associate Head: English Literature

English Literature

Profile image of Alice Brumby

Dr Alice Brumby



Dr Lauren Stephenson


Film Studies

Dr Zoe Enstone 2021

Dr Zoë Enstone

Senior Lecturer

Liberal Arts

Ester McIntosh

Professor Esther McIntosh

Professor of Feminist Theology and Ethics

Theology and Ethics

Lecturer Victoria Nesfield

Dr Victoria Nesfield