Skip to main content
Dr William Pawlett

Dr William Pawlett

Senior Lecturer in Media and Humanities

  • Email address
  • Location City Campus
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts
  • Institute Wolverhampton School of Art
  • Areas of expertise

    Media and Cultural Theory, Media Philosophy

William completed his BSc in Sociology at Loughborough University followed by an MA in Cultural Studies at Lancaster University before returning to Loughborough University to complete a PhD in Sociology.

His main areas of research are social, cultural and media theory, continental philosophy and the application of these to the issues of sexuality and consumerism and to violence, hatred and ‘otherness’. His first book was a study of the sociological and philosophical ideas of Jean Baudrillard. This study challenges the perception of Baudrillard’s work as ‘postmodernist’ by emphasising his notion of symbolic exchange. His second book is a study of social and religious philosophy of Georges Bataille which is applied to the contemporary issues of consumerism and violence and terrorism. William is a member of The Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association, The British Sociological Association and a global network of scholars contributing to The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies.

My latest research explores the notion of profanation, particularly the phenomena of dirt, filth and degradation, exploring the ways in which contemporary societies seek to eliminate 'dirt', yet, paradoxically, generate more and more 'dirt' to feed the processes of elimination.  Treating people like dirt has become a everyday feature of popular culture, of social media use and of neo-liberal techniques of business and management. My new book focusses on the critical distinction between dirt and filth and develops a topological understanding of the relations between sacred and profane, purity, dirt and filth.

  • BSc in Sociology, Loughborough University
  • MA in Cultural Studies, Lancaster University
  • PhD in Sociology, Loughborough University
  • PGCE (FAHE) University of Wolverhampton 2001
  • Capitalism, Profanation and Filth (Routledge, 2019)
  • Georges Bataille: the Sacred and Society (Key Sociologists Series). London: Routledge 2015
  • Jean Baudrillard: Against Banality (Key Sociologists Series). London: Routledge 2007
  • Violence, Society & Radical Theory - Bataille, Baudrillard & Contemporary Society. Ashgate 2013

Papers in Journals and chapters in books:

  • ‘The Sacred, Heterology and Transparency’ in Theory, Culture and Society, special issue on Heterology, Sage, ISSN 0263-2764, Volume 35, No 4 May 2018, accepted February 2018

  • ‘Jean Baudrillard’ in Oxford Bibliographies in Communication, Ed. Patricia Moy, New York: Oxford University Press 2018, accepted December 2017


  • ‘Media Events Reconsidered: from ritual theory to simulation and performativity’ Journal for Cultural Research, Taylor and Francis, ISSN 1479-7585, Vol. 21, Issue 3, Sept. 2017. ‘The Left Pole of the Sacred’ in Georges Bataille and Contemporary Thought, Ed. W. Stronge, ISBN 978-1-4742-6869-1, London: Bloomsbury Academic 2017 pp. 51-72
  • 'Media Events Reconsidered: from ritual theory, to simulation and performativity' work on progress
  • 'Bataille and the Left Pole of the Sacred' in The New Bataille, William Stronge (Ed.) London: Bloomsbury 2016
  • 'Re-thinking 'Spree Killing'' in International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol 13, No. 1 Jan 2016
  • 'Society at War with Itself' in International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Special Issue Baudrillard and War, Vol 11, No. 2 May 2014
  • ‘Baudrillard’s Duality: Manichaeism and Radical Otherness’ in International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol 11, No. 1 Jan 2014
  • ‘Gifts and Reciprocity’, ‘Simulacra’ and ‘Georges Bataille’ (6,000 words in total) in The Encyclopaedia of Consumerism, Southerton, D. et al (eds.), CQ Press, Oxford (2011)
  • ‘The Shared Destiny of the Radically Other’ co-authored with Meena Dhanda in Film Philosophy, special issue ‘Baudrillard and Film’, Vol. 14 No. 2 Sept 2010
  • ‘The Object’, ‘Illusion’, ‘Simulacra’, ‘Death’, ‘Destiny’, ‘Virtuality’, ‘Integral Reality’ and ‘Code’ in The Baudrillard Dictionary, Ed. Richard E. Smith, Edinburgh University Press (2010). Major contributor, 9,000 words in total
  • ‘Hate/Code’ in Kritikos Vol 6, No. 2 November 2008
  • ‘The object system, the sign system and the consumer system’ in The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol 5, No. 1 January 2008
  • ‘In memoriam – Jean Baudrillard: Appearance and Disappearance’ in The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol 4, No. 2 July 2007


  • 'The Left Pole of the Sacred' at Georges Bataille's Accursed Share Project, University of the West of England, 26/4/14
  • 'Media Theory and Mediation' at Artsfest, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton 11/5/16
  • 'Death and Disruption: the Left Pole of the Sacred' at British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Conference, Lancaster University 13/7/16
  • Key Note: ‘Violence and media theory’ at Screens of Violence, one day symposium, University of Wolverhampton, 21/11/2013. Sponsored by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) and the University of Wolverhampton
  • ‘Society at War with Itself’ presented at an invitation only colloquium on Baudrillard andWar at the Swedish National Defence College (Försvarshögskolan), Stockholm 11/10/13
  • ‘Crime, the sacred and transgression: Georges Bataille and the re-thinking of ‘crime’’ at British Society of Criminology, University of Wolverhampton, 2/7/2013
  • ‘Sacred Repulsion: Georges Bataille and the fundamental nature of society’ New Research in Law, Social Sciences and Communications, University of Wolverhampton. 2/7/12
  • ‘Symbolic Economies of Violence’ at the British Sociological Association, Leeds University, 11/4/12
  • ‘Re-thinking ‘spree killing’: Bataille, Baudrillard and Excess’ Public lecture, Wolverhampton Philosophical Society, City Bar, Wolverhampton, 21/2/12
  • ‘The Symbolic Economy of Violence: spree killing’ at Research into Cultures and Humanities, University of Wolverhampton. 29/3/11
  • ‘Radical Otherness and Hate’ at Radical Otherness – a symposium, University of Wolverhampton. 18/11/10
  • ‘The Shared Destiny of the Radically Other’ at New Research in Law, Social Sciences and Communications, University of Wolverhampton. 1/7/10
  • ‘Hate/Code: The cases of the Danish cartoons and ‘Kill a Goth/Kill a Chav’ websites’ at MeCCSA, University of Bradford. 17/1/09
  • ‘Durkheim and Baudrillard on Violence and Hate’ at the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, Maison Francaise d’Oxford, Oxford University. 6/12/08
  • ‘Hate/Code: Baudrillard and radical Otherness’ at The Succession of Simulacra: The Legacy of Jean Baudrillard, University of California, Santa Barbara, 20/4/08
  • ‘Dying to fail and failing to die: Baudrillardian reflections on agency, consumerism and the Code’ at Engaging Baudrillard, University of Wales, Swansea. 14/9/06
  • ‘It could be you! – Anomic violence and hatred in the age of radical uncertainty’ at the British Sociological Association, University of York. 22/3/05
  • ‘Violence and Contemporary Culture’ at the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, Maison Francaise d’Oxford, Oxford University. 20/1/01

William is the general editor of the Anthem Press book series in Sociology, entitled 'Radical Theory'.

William is the Course Leader for the MRes Human Sciences award, a programme which allows students from different academic backgrounds across the humanities, social and health sciences to develop high-level research skills on a topic of their choosing.

William Pawlett's main areas of teaching are theories and concepts for the study of Media, Communication and Culture; a second year module, based on his research, entitled Body, Sexuality and Identity and final year modules Global Media/Global Culture and Media, Consumerism and the Body. William contributes to the MA in Popular Culture and to the Masters programme in Research Methods.

He would welcome research students in the areas of social, cultural and media theory, especially the continental traditions, and on the social issues of representation, violence, hatred and ‘otherness’. I am currently supervising PhD students working on media theory, on Bruno Latour and Jean Baudrillard, and on representations of the sacred.

To apply for a research degree, please visit: