Eugenie Brinkema

Professor Eugenie Brinkema’s research in film and media studies focuses on violence, affect, sexuality, aesthetics, and ethics in texts ranging from the horror film to gonzo pornography, from the body of films dubbed “New European Extremism” to the viral media forms of terrorism. Professor Brinkema’s articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including AngelakiCamera ObscuraCriticismdifferencesDiscourseThe Journal of Speculative PhilosophyThe Journal of Visual CultureLITQui Parle, Somatechnics, and World Picture. Her first book, The Forms of the Affects, published with Duke University Press in 2014, won honorable mention in the Modern Language Association First Book Prize. Her forthcoming book, Life-Destroying Diagrams, explores the theoretical potential of radical formalism in relation to horror and love.

Professor Brinkema received her Ph.D. in 2010 from Brown University’s Department of Modern Culture and Media; while at Brown, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Albert Spaulding Cook Prize in Comparative Literature, and the Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award. In 2012, Professor Brinkema was awarded the James A. and Ruth Levitan Award for Excellence in Teaching in the School for Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT. From 2012-2013, she was a fellow at the Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College. In 2016, her first book, The Forms of the Affects, won Honorable Mention for the Modern Language Association First Book Prize.

In early 2018, she gave talks at Columbia University, Emory University, Princeton University, and delivered keynotes for the Ravenstein Seminar at the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies in Amsterdam and at the Film-Philosophy Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2018-2019, Professor Brinkema was a visiting scholar in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, completing a new book about radical formalism, horror, and love. While in residence, she gave talks in Frankfurt, Cologne, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Leiden, and the Czech Republic. In 2019, she gave lectures and graduate workshops at Cornell University, the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, and the University of Toronto. In spring 2022, she will be a visiting professor at the University of Toronto.

Read a 2019 Interview about her scholarship in the Iluminace: Journal for Film Theory, History, and Aesthetics; the profile of Professor Brinkema by MIT News; her Literature Profile; or her featured interview in “Viewing Death: Disturbing new genre of snuff films create an ethical paradox”.

Film Theory; Violence and Extremity; Embodiment and Affect; Critical Theory and Psychoanalysis; Continental Philosophy; Gender and Sexuality Studies

My first book, The Forms of the Affects (Duke UP, 2014), offers a forceful corrective to the emphasis on embodiment and experience in affect theory, arguing that that attention to form, structure, and aesthetics enables a fundamental rethinking of the study of sensation. I invent a mode of criticism that locates affects in the details of textual construction, ultimately arguing for the speculative potential of a stance of radical formalism. Read the Preface.

My second book, Life-Destroying Diagrams, is comprised of two main sections—The Order of Death in Horror and Love and Measurement. The Order of Death in Horror confronts questions of violence and finitude in the affect-laden field of horror, arguing that the unlikely couple of horror and philosophy rely on equally stark formalisms in order to make claims about violence and ethics. This project severs all relations between horror and bodies (those wounded on screen; those affected in the theater), breaking a bond to the Latinate horrēre, whose emphasis on bristling hairs has determined a theory of negative affect as sensorial and experiential. The minor claim of the book is that an overreliance on thinking bad affect from the point of view of the body has blinded theorists to horror’s potential for a “low formalism.” But the larger claim is that horror deploys systems of abstract forms—the alphabet, the ordinal, the grid, sequence, blankness, diagram, cartography—in order to formalize an ethics of finitude. The companion work, Love and Measurement, takes the implication for the formality of affect to its culminating point, redescribing love as consisting of an abstraction of form, locating amatographic articulation in the restrictions of the geometric, that which describes a brutal, uncompromising measurability of the world. Read the Introduction.



Life-Destroying Diagrams. Duke University Press. (March 2022)
Read the Introduction

The Forms of the Affects. Duke University Press. (March 2014).
Read the Preface

MLA First Book Prize, honorable mention. Citation: “The Forms of the Affects is a dazzling exploration of cinematic technique as it pertains to the theory of the affects, enriched throughout with careful reference to philosophy and psychoanalysis. Eugenie Brinkema’s book is beautifully crafted at the level of the sentence and formidable in its overarching argument for the formal composition of emotion. Exhilarating and important, The Forms of the Affects is a work of mature intelligence and great imagination.”

Selected Publications


Get Out, Race, and Formal Destiny (On Common Weirdness),” for The American Weird, ed. Julius Greve and Florian Zappe (Bloomsbury) (Forthcoming 2020).

“Colors Without Bodies: Wes Anderson’s Drab Ethics,” for Practical  Aesthetics, ed. Bernd Herzogenrath (Bloomsbury); to be reprinted in REAL—Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature (Gunter Narr, Tübingen) (Forthcoming 2020).

“Violence and the Fascination with Form,” special issue “On Fascination,” Postmodern Culture, ed. Mikko Tuhkanen. (Forthcoming 2020).

“Form,” The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Visual Culture, ed. A. Joan Saab, Aubrey Anable, and Catherine Zuromskis. (Forthcoming 2020).


“Spit * Light * Spunk: Larry Clark, an Aesthetic of Frankness,” Abjection Incorporated: Mediating the Politics of Pleasure and Violence, ed. Nicholas Sammond and Maggie Hennefeld (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020).

Extended interview, “We Never Took Deconstruction Seriously Enough (On Affects, Formalism, and Film Theory). An Interview with Eugenie Brinkema,” Iluminace: Journal for Film Theory, History, and Aesthetics. 31.1: 65-85. (2019)

“Form for the Blind: Porn and Description Without Guarantee,” special issue “Porn on the Couch,” Porn Studies (Taylor & Francis, 2019)

“Violence and the Fascination with Form,” special issue “On Fascination,” Postmodern Culture (2019)

“Introduction,” co-written with Adam Lowenstein, for “Dossier: Horror and the Aesthetics of Landscape,” ed. Eugenie Brinkema and Adam Lowenstein, Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 40.3 (Wayne State University Press): 333-341. (2018)

“Strangers by Lakes: 1 or 2 or 4 or 5 or 10,” for “Dossier: Horror and the Aesthetics of Landscape,” ed. Eugenie Brinkema and Adam Lowenstein, Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 40.3 (Wayne State University Press): 370-381. (2018)

Kill is Kiss: Violence, Language, Virus, Love,” A World is Being Born Here: Thinking the Contemporary with Michel Serres, ed. Rick Dolphijn (Bloomsbury, 2018)

“Afterword: Of Bodies, changed to different bodies, changed to other forms,” special issue

“Cinematic Bodies,” Somatechnics (Edinburgh University Press, 2018).

“Irrumation, the Interrogative: Extreme Porn and the Crisis of Reading,” Polygraph, December 2017 (Duke).

“26 more or less: Sophie Calle’s Secrets,” in Henriette Huldisch, ed., An Inventory of Shimmers: Objects of Intimacy in Contemporary Art (Munich: DelMonica Books/Prestel).

“On no longer being loved: 11 formal problems related to method,” special issue Cinematic Affect, ed. Anne Rutherford, The Cine-Files 10 (2016).

“Violence and the Diagram; Or, The Human Centipede,” dossier The Clamor of the Visible, qui parle 24.2 (2016): 75-108.

“Introduction: A Genreless Horror” and “Design Terminable and Interminable: The Possibility of Death in Final Destination,” special issue: The Design and Componentry of Horror, ed. Caetlin Benson-Allott and Eugenie Brinkema, Journal of Visual Culture 14.3 (2016): 263-266; 298-310.

“Rough Sex,” in Porn Archives, eds., Tim Dean, Steven Ruszczychy, and David Squires (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press) 262-283.

“A Mother is a Form of Time: Gilmore Girls and the Elasticity of In-finitude,” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 34.1 (2012): 3-31.

“e.g., Dogtooth,” World Picture 7, distance (2012).

“Nudity and the Question,” in The Blackwell Companion to Fassbinder, ed. Brigitte Peucker (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

“Critique of Silence,” The Sense of Sound, special issue of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 22 (2 and 3), ed. Rey Chow and James A. Steintrager (Duke UP, 2011).

“Laura Dern’s Vomit, or, Kant and Derrida in Oz,” Disgust and Spectatorship, special issue of Film-Philosophy 15.2, ed. Tina Kendall (2011).

“Burn. Object. If.” World Picture 5, special issue on sustainability (2011).

“Rot’s Progress: Gastronomy According to Peter Greenaway,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, ed. Ellen Rooney and Elizabeth Weed (Duke UP, 2010).

“How to Do Things with Violences: Benny’s Video,” in The Blackwell Companion to Michael Haneke, ed. Roy Grundmann (Blackwell, 2010), 354-370.

“The Fault Lines of Vision: Rashomon and The Man Who Left His Will on Film,” in Rape in Art Cinema, ed. Dominique Russell (Continuum, 2010), 27-40.

“To Cut, to Split, to Touch, to Eat, as of a Body or a Text: Secretary and Dans ma peau,” Shadows of Cruelty: Sadism, Masochism & the Philosophical Muse, special issue of Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 14.3, ed. Frida Beckman and Charlie Blake (Routledge, 2009), 131-146.

“Browning. Freak. Woman. Stain.” in The Cinema of Tod Browning: Essays of the Macabre and Grotesque, ed. Bernd Herzogenrath (McFarland, 2008), 158-173.

“Psychoanalytic Bullshit,” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 21.1 (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007), 61-79.

“‘Not to scream before or about, but to scream at death’: Haneke’s Horrible Funny Games,” in Caligari’s Heirs: The German Cinema of Fear after 1945, ed. Steffen Hantke (Scarecrow Press, 2007), 145-159.

“A Title Does Not Ask, but Demands That You Make a Choice: On the Otherwise Films of Bruce LaBruce,” Criticism 48.1 (Wayne State University Press, 2006), 95-126.

“Celluloid is Sticky: Sex, Death, Materiality, Metaphysics (in Some Films by Catherine Breillat),” Women: A Cultural Review 17.2 (Routledge, 2006), 147-170.

“Rape and the Rectum: Bersani, Deleuze, Noé,” Camera Obscura 58, 20.1 (Duke University Press, 2005), 33-56.

“Pleasure in/and Perversity: Plaisagir and Liliana Cavani’s Il portiere di notte,” Pleasure, special issue of The Dalhousie Review 84.3 (Dalhousie Press, 2004), 419-439.

Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.011 The Film Experience

21L.024 Literature & Existentialism

21L.345 Hitchcock

21L.345 Kubrick

21L.435 Literature and Film: Ultra-violence

21L.706 Studies in Film: The Contemporary Horror Film

21L.706 Studies in Film: Color in Film

CMS.796 Major Media Texts: Forms of Love

CMS.796 Major Media Texts: Strong Sensations