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Emily holds a BA (Hons) in Film and American Studies from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London. After focusing on the role of Shakespeare in American identity, her research has shifted to focus on the role of judicial violence in American culture after working for human rights charity Reprieve.


Research Interests

  • US national security and the War on Terror
  • Terrorism and counterterrorism
  • Media, culture, and representation
  • Ethics, justice, and human rights



Emily is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and teaches on various courses in the department, including ‘The Art of War Studies’ and ‘Experience of War’. She also teaches at the Department of Defence Studies at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in Shrivenham.


Doctoral Research

‘Whatever it takes’: Popular American culture and the delusion of torture’s success

This research project considers how torture and prisoner abuse narratives in American popular culture have helped to conceptualise the practice of judicial torture. Since the attacks on US soil on September 11th, 2001, it has become increasingly obvious that torture is considered acceptable in fictional representations of American counterterror practices, even if only in extraordinary circumstances. What has been largely ignored, however, is the part popular culture has played in normalising the extraordinary into ordinary, everyday practice. This PhD will argue that the way in which we understand torture relies on how we consume popular culture, which presents torture as an unpleasant but unremarkable past occurrence that has been integrated into the ordinary.


Prof James Gow; Dr Clare Birchall