Location: Bowdoin / Aviva Briefel


Aviva Briefel

Professor of English and Cinema Studies

Contact Information


Massachusetts Hall - 205

Teaching this semester

CINE 2426/ENGL 2426/GSWS 2426. The Horror Film in Context

Examines the genre of the horror film in a range of cultural, theoretical, and literary contexts. Considers the ways in which horror films represent violence, fear, and paranoia; their creation of identity categories; their intersection with contemporary politics; and their participation in such major literary and cinematic genres as the gothic, comedy, and family drama. Texts may include works by Craven, Cronenberg, De Palma, Freud, Hitchcock, Kristeva, Kubrick, Poe, Romero, and Shelley. Note: Fulfills the film theory requirement for Cinema Studies minors.

ENGL 1039. Coming of Age in the Victorian Period

Examines the Victorian Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel. Considers how this genre of narrative depicts childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Questions if an individual changes in passing through these various stages or whether there are elements of constancy. Asks if growth is the same thing as transformation. Authors may include Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Oscar Wilde.

Aviva Briefel


  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 2000

Teaching areas

  • Victorian literature and culture; the horror film; women and film; cinematic adaptation.

Research interests

  •  Narratives of art forgery, the horror film, Victorian empire and the body, and the Victorian gothic.


Book Projects:

Impossible Ghosts: Material Culture at the Limits of Evidence (in progress).

The Racial Hand in the Victorian ImaginationCambridge University Press (September 2015)

Horror after 9/11 World of Fear, Cinema of Terror.  Volume on the politics of the horror film, co-edited with Sam J. Miller, University of Texas Press (November 2011)

 "The Deceivers: Art Forgery and Identity in the Nineteenth Century", Cornell University Press (2006)

Aviva Briefel - The Racial Hand in the Victorian Imagination Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture Horror after 9/11 World of Fear, Cinema of Terror Edited by Aviva Briefel and Sam J. Miller The Decievers Cover

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

“‘Freaks of Furniture’: The Useless Energy of Haunted Things.”  Victorian Studies 59.2 (Winter  2017): 209-34.  

 “Parenting through Horror: Reassurance in Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014).” Camera Obscura 95 (2017): 1-27.

“The Art Forger’s Innocence,” Fake—Fälschungen, wie sie im Buche stehen, ed. Henry Keazor, Universität Heidelberg, 2016.

“Spectral Matter: The Afterlife of Clothes in the Nineteenth-Century Ghost Story.” Victorian Review 41.1  (Spring 2015): 67-88.

“Rules of Digital Attraction: The Lure of the Ghost in Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo.” Quarterly Review of Film and Videohttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10509208.2016.1192909.

"Mickey Horror: Escape from Tomorrow and the Gothic Attack on Disney," Film Quarterly 68.4 (Summer 2015): 36-43.

“On the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition.”  BRANCH.  branchcollective.org.

The Men Who Knew Too Much: Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock (Oxford UP, 2012).

“The Potter’s Thumb/The Writer’s Hand: Manual Production and Victorian Colonial Narratives,” Novel 42.2 (2009): 253-60.

“Cosmetic Tragedies: Failed Masquerade in Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady,” Victorian Literature and Culture 37 (2009): 463-81.

“What Some Ghosts Don’t Know: Spectral Incognizance and the Horror Film,” Narrative 17.1 (Jan. 2009): 95-108.

 “Take Me: The Rhetoric of Donation,” The Anatomy of Body Worlds: Critical Essays on Gunther von Hagens’ Plastinated Cadavers, eds. T. Christine Jespersen, Alicita Rodríguez, and Joseph Starr (Jefferson, NC:  McFarland, 2008).

The Men Who Knew Too Much: Henry James and Alfred Hitchcock (Oxford UP, 2012).“Hands of Beauty, Hands of Horror: Fear and Egyptian Art at the Fin de Siècle,” Victorian Studies 50.2 (2008): 263-71.

"Monsters and Critics," Film Quarterly 61.3 (2008).

"Christina Rossetti," Encyclopedia of British Literary History, Oxford University Press.

"Monster Pains: Masochism, Menstruation, and Identification in the Horror Film," Film Quarterly 58.3 (2005)
Abstract | PDF (194 KB) | PDF Plus (222 KB)

"Tautological Crimes: Why Women Can't Steal Jewels," Novel 37.1/2 (2004)

Review of Mighall, Robert, A Geography of Victorian Gothic Fiction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). Nineteenth-Century Contexts 25.3 (2003).

Horror Film Cover"Illusory Idols/Sacred Objects: The Fake in Freud's 'The Moses of Michelangelo,'" American Imago 60.1 (2003). To be reprinted in a collection by Cambridge Scholars Press.
( Access article in HTML » locked muse members only )
( Access article in PDF » locked muse members only )

"'How much did you pay for this place?': Fear, Entitlement, and Urban Space in Bernard Rose's Candyman," Camera Obscura 37 (1997). Co-authored with Sianne Ngai. Reprinted in The Horror Film Reader, eds. Alain Silver and James Ursini (New York: Limelight Editions/Proscenium Publishers, 2000).