Margaret D Hennefeld

Maggie Hennefeld is McKnight Presidential Fellow and Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is the author of the award-winning book, "Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes" (Columbia UP, 2018), an editor of the journal "Cultural Critique," and co-editor of two volumes, "Unwatchable" (Rutgers UP, 2019) and "Abjection Incorporated: Mediating the Politics of Pleasure and Violence" (Duke UP, 2020). She is currently writing a book about the history of women who allegedly died from laughing too hard, considered alongside theories of female hysteria and historiographies of early cinema. In addition to her academic writing, she is a cultural critic and international curator of silent cinema.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. : Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, Providence, RI, 2014.
  • B.A. : Cinema Studies, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2006.


  • Comedy
  • Film theory / historiography
  • Feminist theory / gender politics
  • Silent cinema
  • Critical theory
  • Popular culture
  • Media studies
Courses Taught
  • CSCL 1907: Fake News
  • CSCL 8910: Theory on the Brink of Laughter
  • CSCL 3175: Comedy: Text and Theory
  • CSCL 1201W: Cinema
  • MIMS 8003: Historiography of the Moving Image
  • SCMC 5002: Advanced Film Analysis
  • CSCL 1907W: Dangerous Women
  • CSCL 3231: Comedy: Media, Politics, & Society
  • CSCL 5910: Media Madness: Hysteria, Anxiety, & Contagion
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Editor: Cultural Critique , 2019-present
  • Executive Committee Member: "Screen Arts and Culture,” Modern Language Association , 2019 - 2024
  • Executive Committee Member: Domitor: The International Society for the Study of Early Cinema , 2020 - 2023
  • Committee Member: “Media Archives,” Society of Cinema and Media Studies , 2017-2020
  • Editorial Advisor: “Women Film Pioneers Project,” Columbia University Film Studies , 2016-present
  • Steering Committee: Comedy and Humor Studies Scholarly Interest Group (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) , 2014-2017


  • Co-Curator of "Nasty Women of Silent Cinema" (silent film program at Pordenone Giornate del Cinema Muto): 2017, 2019
  • Curator of silent film program: “Feminist Laughter (“La Risa Feminista: Mujeres Comediantes del Cinema Mudo”).” Mexico Silent Film Festival, Puebla, Mexico: 2019
  • Curator of silent film program: “Feminist Specters of Silent Film Comedy.”: Princeton Garden Theater, Princeton, NJ (March 2019), Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY (Oct. 2018), Trylon Cinema, Minneapolis, MN (Apr. 2018).,
  • Co-Organizer of Genders of Laughter Symposium and Film Screening: TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto, 2014
  • Co-Organizer of The Feminist & Women’s Media Festival: Providence, RI, 2014
  • Co-Organizer of The Providence Women’s Film Festival: Providence, RI, 2010
  • Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes. Hennefeld, Margaret, Columbia University Press, Author, 2018. Link Image
  • Abjection Incorporated: Mediating the Politics of Pleasure and Violence. Hennefeld, Margaret, Nicholas Sammond, Duke University Press, Co-Editor, 2020. Link Image
  • Unwatchable. Hennefeld, Margaret, Nicholas Baer, Laura Horak, Gunnar Iversen, Rutgers University Press, Co-Editor, 2019. Link Image
  • Looking for Léontine: My Obsession with a Forgotten Screen Queen: Hennefeld, Margaret, Los Angeles Review of Books, 2019. Link
  • Film History: Hennefeld, Margaret, Feminist Media Histories, 4.2 , 2018. Link
  • What’s So Funny About Comedy and Humor Studies?: Hennefeld, Margaret, Annie Berke and Michael Rennett, Introduction to In-Focus section, Journal of Cinema and Media Studies , 2018. Link
  • Feminist Filmmaking and the Future of Global Film Politics: A Review of "Women’s Cinema, World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms" by Patricia White: Hennefeld, Margaret, Cultural Critique, 99 , 2018. Link
  • Who Is America? On Truth, Lies, and Laughter: Hennefeld, Margaret, Film Quarterly, 2018. Link
  • Toward a Feminist Politics of Comedy and History: Hennefeld, Margaret, Feminist Media Histories, 3.2 , 2017. Link
  • Teaching To Be or Not to Be: Hennefeld, Margaret, The Cine-Files, 13 , 2017. Link
  • Death from Laughter, Female Hysteria, and Early Cinema: Hennefeld, Margaret, Duke University Press, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 27.3 45-92, 2016. Link
  • Women's Hats and Silent Film Spectatorship: Between Ostrich Plume and Moving Image: Hennefeld, Margaret, Indiana University Press, Film History: An International Journal, 28.3 24-53, 2016. Link
  • Laughter in the Age of Trump: Hennefeld, Margaret, Flow Journal: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture, 2016. Link
  • Miniature Women, Acrobatic Maids, and Self-Amputating Domestics: Comediennes of the Trick Film: Hennefeld, Margaret, Early Popular Visual Culture, 13.2 , May, 2015. Link
  • Slapstick Comediennes in Transitional Cinema: Between Body and Medium: Hennefeld, Margaret, Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, 86 , Sept., 2014. Link
  • Destructive Metamorphosis: The Comedy of Female Catastrophe and Feminist Film Historiography: Hennefeld, Margaret, Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, 36 , Nov., 2014. Link
  • The Geopolitics of Narrative Parody in Ulrike Ottinger's 'Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia': Hennefeld, Margaret, Media Fields, 3 , Summer 2011. Link
  • Matrimony's Speed Limit (1913): Expanded Essay for the National Film Registry: Hennefeld, Margaret, Library of Congress Website. Link
  • The Exploits of Elaine (1914): Expanded Essay for the National Film Registry: Hennefeld, Margaret, Library of Congress Website. Link
  • Cissy Fitzgerald: Career Profile: Hennefeld, Margaret, Women Film Pioneers Project. Link
  • Book Review, "The Queen of Vaudeville: The Story of Eva Tanguay": Hennefeld, Margaret, Journal of American Humor Studies, 2014. Link
  • Book Review, "The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning": Hennefeld, Margaret, Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, May 2013. Link
  • McKnight Presidential Fellowship, 2020 - 2023
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Doctoral Fellowship, 2020 - 2023
  • Mellon Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Princeton, NJ, 2018 - 2019
  • Emily Toth Award: Best Single Work in Women’s Studies- 1st Runner-Up (for Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes), Popular Culture Association, 2019
  • Kraszna-Krausz Award: Best Moving Image Book- Longlisted (for Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes), Kraszna-Krausz Foundation, 2019
  • Richard Wall Memorial Award- Finalist (for Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes), Theatre Library Association, 2019
  • Best Silent Film Book of 2018 (for Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes), Silent London Annual Readers’ Poll, 2019
  • U of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid, 2017 - 2019
  • Imagine Fund Special Event Award, “Material and Bodily Archives,” University of Minnesota, 2016-2017
  • Faculty Residential Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, Fall 2016
  • Jack Rosenbalm Prize for best article in American Humor Studies (American Humor Studies Association), 2016
  • Faculty Imagine Fund Recipient, 2016
  • Annette Kuhn Essay Award (Screen Journal), 2015
  • Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Jackman Humanities Center, University of Toronto, 2014 - 2015
  • Program for the Arts Grant, Jackman Humanities Institute, 2014
  • Mary J. Langlois Dissertation Prize (Brown University) , 2014
  • Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellowship, co-convener of workshop on "Image Spectrality", 2011 - 2012
  • Pembroke Center Graduate Fellowship (Brown University), 2010 - 2011