Eugenie Brinkema

Eugenie Brinkema
Associate Professor


In 2018-2019, Associate Professor Eugenie Brinkema is a visiting scholar in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, working on her book about radical formalism, horror, and love. In November 2018, she will be giving a talk at the Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt for the “Return of the Aesthetic in American Studies” conference; in December 2018, she will be giving a talk at PAF, the Festival of Film Animation and Contemporary Art in Olomouc, Czech Republic and concurrently participating in the four-member international jury for the 12th year of Other Visions, the competition of contemporary Czech moving images of film and video. In 2019, Professor Brinkema will give invited talks at King’s College London and for the “Imaginaires Contemporains” research seminar at University of Paris 7 Diderot, in addition to running a session of the “Emerging Objects” course for the Netherlands Research School for Media Studies.

Professor 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 Angelaki, Camera Obscura, Criticism, differences, Discourse, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, The Journal of Visual Culture, Qui Parle, 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 current project, Algebras of Sensation, 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 2018, she will be giving talks at Columbia University, Emory University, Princeton University, and keynotes for the Ravenstein Seminar at the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies in Amsterdam and at the Film-Philosophy Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Read 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, Algebras of Sensation, is comprised of two volumes bound together—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.



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


“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 to Dossier: Horror and the Aesthetics of Landscape,” (forthcoming Discourse).

“Strangers by Lakes: 1 or 2 or 4 or 5 or 10,” (forthcoming Discourse).

“Spit * Light * Spunk: Larry Clark, an Aesthetic of Frankness,” The Abject Objection: Theories of Graphic and Comedic Violence, ed. Nicholas Sammond and Margaret Hennefeld (Duke University Press).

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


“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

Eugenie Brinkema