Briefel, Aviva

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Briefel, Aviva


Born in France. Education: Harvard University, Ph.D., 2000.


Office—Bowdoin College, 205 Massachusetts Hall, Brunswick, ME 04011. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, historian, administrator, and educator. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, associate professor of English and director of Gay and Lesbian Studies Program. Appeared on television programs, including The 100 Scariest Movie Moments, Bravo, 2004, and Thirty Even Scarier Movie Moments, Bravo, 2006.


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

Contributor to books, including Encyclopedia of British Literary History, Oxford University Press, and The Horror Film Reader, edited by Alain Silver and James Ursini, Limelight Editions/Proscenium Publishers (New York, NY), 2003. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Film Quarterly, Novel, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Camera Obscura, and American Imago.


Aviva Briefel is an associate professor of English at Bowdoin College, where she pursues research into areas related to horror film, sensationalist literature, and narratives of art forgery, according to a curriculum vitae posted on the Bowdoin College Web site. Her teaching interests center on Victorian literature and culture, women in film, and the horror film. In her younger days, she was unable to watch violence or bloodshed in films, she told interviewers Jordan Schiele and Hans Law in the Bowdoin Orient. Now, she sees even the most blood-drenched horror films as being worthy of academic study. She told Schiele and Law that ‘what draws me to these films is their representation of fear and their representation of what kinds of things people are afraid of in different cultures or different periods.’ Briefel is interesting in discovering the cause of the basic fascination that audiences have with horror films, and in what this fascination says about the larger context of culture. ‘There is something very significant about our fascination with horror,’ she remarked to Schiele and Law. ‘Horror films often deal with the decimation of people who look very much like the audience members who are watching these films. And it's really interesting to think about why people are so fascinated with seeing images of violence, especially since we are living in a society that is very violent as well."

Another of Briefel's academic interests is the narrative of art forgery, and in her book The Deceivers: Art Forgery and Identity in the Nineteenth Century, she looks at the cultural significance of the rise of art forgery in the nineteenth century. With an eye toward exploring the intersection of literary narrative, the committing of artistic crime, and the definition and development of identity, Briefel analyzes the era's proliferation of art forgery, the gender roles of men and women in art creation and forgery, and the various identities that arose from the world of art forgery. For example, she notes that women who recreated art were considered under the relatively benign label of ‘copyists,’ concerned with remaking art for its aesthetic value, whereas men were considered ‘forgers,’ with illicit and often criminal motives. She also notes how specific identities such as art dealer, art expert, and restorer emerged from this context.



Bowdoin Orient, April 29, 2005, Jordan Schiele and Hans Law, ‘A ‘Briefel’ Look at Horror Films,’ interview with Aviva Briefel.

Journal of British Studies, July, 2007, Julie L'Enfant, review of The Deceivers: Art Forgery and Identity in the Nineteenth Century, p. 704.

Times Literary Supplement, January 19, 2007, Kate Murray-Browne, review of The Deceivers, p. 29.


Bowdoin College Web site, (October 28, 2007), curriculum vitae of Aviva Briefel.

Internet Movie Database, (October 28, 2007), filmography of Aviva Briefel.

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