Eugenie Brinkema


Eugenie Brinkema
Associate 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 the body of films dubbed “New European Extremism” to the visual and temporal forms of terrorism. Abiding research interests include embodiment and sensation in ultraviolent film and literature, critical and cultural theory, literary theory, and psychoanalysis and continental philosophy, while more recent areas of inquiry have explored French gastronomy, sound and color.  She 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.

Her articles have appeared in numerous journals including differences, Camera Obscura, Angelaki, Criticism, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, and in anthologies on director Michael Haneke and rape in art cinema. Her first book, The Forms of the Affects (Duke University Press, Spring 2014), interrogates the relationship between form and grief, disgust, nostalgia, anxiety, and joy in film, critical theory, psychoanalysis, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century continental philosophy. Her current project pairs the post-1960 horror film with Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Levinas in order to explore ethics, violence, duration and non-being.

Professor Brinkema’s teaching interests span film theory to literary theory; serialized television to the horror film; formal questions of narrative, color, sound, time, and space to studies of trauma and violence. She is thrilled to be a member of the Literature Section at MIT not least because it keeps her geographically close to her beloved New England Patriots.

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. From 2012-2013, she was a fellow at the Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College.

Read Professor Brinkema’s Literature Profile

Film Theory; Violence and Representation; Embodiment and Affect; Critical Theory; Psychoanalysis and 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 deep attention to form, structure, and aesthetics enables a fundamental rethinking of the study of sensation. Read more here:

My second book involves thinking about violence, death, and ethics in the affect-laden genre of the horror film. This project follows on the argument in my first book, The Forms of the Affects, that affectivity has been wrongly separated from considerations of form, aesthetics, and structure. One of the motivations for undertaking this new project is that, historically, the more affectively charged genres are taken to be (fear and disgust for horror; disgust and arousal for pornography), the more likely one is to find general arguments about the workings of sensation, intensity, and embodied reactions, and the less likely one is to find close readings of the details of specific texts. Etymology is at least one part of the problem here: the emphasis on horror’s affect as bound up with an embodied spectatorial reaction (appealing to the etymology of horrere as the bristling of hairs) has, I am claiming, operated at the expense of considering specific films’ use of form (light, line, duration, color), abstract and seemingly neutral forms (the alphabet, the ordinal, sequence, the diagram), and what I am calling horror’s potential for “low formalism.”

This book severs the relation between horror and bodies (those wounded on screen, those affected in the theater) to examine these figures—form, forms, and formalism—and, in the process, see in the horror film potential for a critique of finitude.


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

Selected Publications


“Spit * Light * Spunk: Larry Clark, an Aesthetic of Frankness,” in The Abject Objection: Theories of Graphic and Comedic Violence, ed. Nicholas Sammond and Maggie Hennefeld.

“Introduction: A Genreless Horror” and “Design Terminable and Interminable: The Possibility of Death in Final Destination,” Journal of Visual Culture, Special Issue: The Design and Componentry of Horror, ed. Caetlin Benson-Allott and Eugenie Brinkema, anticipated December 2016.


“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). (Link to

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

“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). (Link to

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

“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. [PDF]

“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. [PDF]

“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 the current academic year:

21L.011 The Film Experience (Fall 2016)


Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.011 The Film Experience (Fall 2016)

21L.011 The Film Experience (Fall 2014)

21L.345 On The Screen: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock (IAP 2015)

21L.345 On The Screen: Kubrick (Spring 2015)

21L.706 Studies in Film: The Contemporary Horror Film (Spring 2015)

Eugenie Brinkema