Show/hide main menu

Academic Staff

Dr Elena Gorfinkel

Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

Email :
Tel +44 (0)20 7848 7840 
Film Studies Department
King's College London
Room 567N, Norfolk Building
Strand Campus





Elena Gorfinkel earned her MA and PhD in Cinema Studies from New York University.  Before arriving at King’s College London, she was Associate Professor of Art History and Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she worked from 2009 to 2016. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Film Studies at Bryn Mawr College from 2007-2009.

Research Interests
  • Independent cinemas: esp. marginal, adult & underground cinemas
  • Sexuality, sensation and cinematic embodiment
  • American film history and historiography
  • Women’s filmmaking practice
  • International art cinemas
  • Performance and labour
  • Contemporary film theory

 Elena Gorfinkel’s research explores: post-war and particularly post 1960s independent cinemas in the United States and histories of marginal filmmaking practices, such as adult films, exploitation and underground cinemas; questions of sexuality, materiality and temporality in cinema; and contemporary art cinemas. 

Her first book, Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation Cinema in the 1960s(University of Minnesota Press, 2017) examines the little-known history of the production, reception and regulation of American sex exploitation films in the 1960s. The book narrates the sexploitation film as a site for the changing sexual expressivity of US cinema, and a locus of industrial and textual anxiety about the nature of eroticized film spectatorship. In this and other work, Gorfinkel is concerned with the historicity of the filmic sexed body, and of thinking through cinema’s investment in corporeal spectacle and its aesthetic labour.

Gorfinkel has also co-edited two books: one on the relationship of place and location to histories and theories of the moving image, Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image, with John David Rhodes (Minnesota, 2011) and the forthcoming Global Cinema Networks which considers the place and historicity of world cinema in a digital era, with Tami Williams (Rutgers University Press, 2018.)

Her second book project, in progress, Decompose, Endure examines the intersection of contemporary art cinema, experimental cinemas and moving image practices that deploy and perform duration, states of endurance and exhaustion, and modes of decay and deceleration in service of aesthetic and political critique.

Gorfinkel welcomes PhD topics within any of her research areas. 

Selected Publications
  • Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation Cinema in the 1960s. University of Minnesota Press, 2017.
  • Sex, Sensation, and Nonhuman Interiority in Under the Skin,” Jump Cut 57  (Fall 2016).
  • “Exhausted Drift: Austerity, Dispossession and the Politics of Slow in Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff,” Slow Cinema, Eds. Tiago de Luca & Nuno Barradas Jorge. Edinburgh University Press, 2015.
  • “Corpse, Corpus, Contingency: Peggy Ahwesh’s  Deadman Trilogy,” Screen, 55:4 (Winter 2014.)
  • “Wet Dreams: Erotic Film Festivals of the Early 1970s and the Utopian Sexual Public Sphere,” in Sex Scene: Media and the Sexual Revolution. Ed. Eric Schaefer. Duke University Press, 2014. 
  • “Weariness Waiting: Enduration and Art Cinema’s Tired Bodies,” Discourse 34, 2-3, (2012-3)
  • Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image, Ed. with John David Rhodes, University of Minnesota Press, 2011. 

Elena Gorfinkel teaches modules in the areas of film history & historiography, American cinema, sexuality and embodiment in cinema, 1960s cinema, independent film, contemporary film theory, women’s filmmaking. 

Expertise and Public Engagement

Elena Gorfinkel has given keynote and invited lectures internationally, including at the University of Chicago, the University of California-Irvine, Cambridge University, Monash University, University of Florida, Wayne State University, among other institutions.

Gorfinkel has also given public film and art talks at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne), International House Philadelphia (US), the Offscreen Film Festival (Brussels), INOVA (Milwaukee), the Block Museum of Art (Chicago). She recently led a public study session at the British Film Institute (on R.W. Fassbinder and sexuality.)

Gorfinkel serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the journals Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture & Media Studies and World Picture; and has served as referee for Oxford University Press, University of Illinois Press, Bloomsbury, Berg Press, and the journals Cinema Journal, Camera Obscura, Porn Studies, Screening the Past, Framework, and Theory & Event.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2019 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454