A thesis in comparative literature discusses a famous contemporary author's best-known trilogy. The researcher interprets the books in the light of the author's widely discussed divorce, her at times embarrassing public conduct, and drug abuse that the media knew of, but had not written about, among other things.

The thesis makes the author's drug abuse public for the first time, which means that the research attracts attention and is reported by the press. The author reacts strongly to this disclosure and to the interpretation of her books in this light.

The researcher is surprised about the claim that this is something new, since William S. Burroughs' influence on the authorship and references to David Bowie's Berlin period make such an interpretation fairly obvious to all her readers. She also replies that the analysis is far more complex than what appears in the media and holds the view that the author should familiarise herself with the research before criticising the work.

The researcher and the author had no contact prior to the media reports.

Questions:

  • In this context, is the author an individual belonging to a vulnerable group?
  • What kind of protection does the author have against the type of portrayal she reacts to?
  • Should the researcher have obtained informed consent from the author?