Kevin Heffernan

Film & Media Arts

Associate Professor




Kevin Heffernan is Associate Professor in the Division of Cinema-Television in the Meadows School of the Arts. He earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison 1997, and he teaches courses in film history, styles and genres, and Asian cinema. He is author of Ghouls Gimmicks and Gold, a study of the postwar American horror film from Duke University Press, and his writings on exploitation film, censorship, Hong Kong cinema, and film distribution can be found in many journals and anthologies.

In addition, Professor Heffernan was the associate producer and co-screenwriter of two feature-length documentaries, Divine Trash (1998), which won the Filmmakers Trophy in Documentary at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, and In Bad Taste (1999), which debuted on the Independent Film Channel in 2000. Both films are regularly shown on Bravo! He is also the co-author, with the late Frances Milstead and Steve Yeager, of My Son Divine from Alyson Books, which was on the Washington Blade Lesbian and Gay Best Seller List in 2000 and 2001.

He is currently writing a book on contemporary Asian cinema tentatively titled A Wind From the East and another book tentatively titled From Beavis and Butt Head to the Tea Baggers: Dumb White Guy Politics and Culture in America.


Ph.D., Communication Arts: Film History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Interdepartmental Minor: Philosophy. M.A., Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., English, University of Delaware

Recent Work


Jake and Sally Barnes Foundation Grant for the Study of Japanese Culture, 2006
Asian Studies Program Committee, 2005-2007 Meadows Committee on Governance, 2006-2007
Meadows Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2005-2007
Faculty Senate, 2004-2005, 2005-2006
Dean’s Award for Professional Excellence, 1998, 2003
Meadows Faculty Development Grant, 1998,1999,2000
University President’s Partners Grant, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004
Division of Cinema-Television Travel and Research Grant, 1999-2006
International Travel and Research Grant, 2004
Teaching Technology Group Web CT Grant, 2000


Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1952-1968 (Duke University Press, 2004)

My Son Divine with Frances Milstead and Steve Yeager (Alyson Publications, 2001). Washington Blade National Lesbian and Gay Best Seller List, November 2001-March 2002

Articles and Book Chapters

“Inner Senses: New Film Financing and the Changing Face of Hong Kong Horror Cinema” in Currents and Countercurrents: Contemporary Asian Cinema, eds. Jinhee Choi and Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano (Hong Kong University Press, 2009) 

“`Are You Saying My Son is a Bitch Boy?’ The Perilously Achieved Hegemonic Masculinity of Ben Stiller” in the anthology Hetero,) edited by Sean Griffin (State University of New York Press, 2009)

“Edgar G. Ulmer’s Journey to the Lost City: L’Atlantide” in Edgar G. Ulmer, ed. Gary Rhodes (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008)

“Art House or House of Exorcism? The Shifting Distribution and Reception Contexts of Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil” in Jeffrey Sconce, ed. Sleaze Artists: Cinema at the Margins of Taste, Style, and Politics (Duke University Press, 2007)

“A Tale of Two Theaters: The Music Palace, the Canal Theater, and the Distribution of Chinese Films in New York’s Chinatown in the 1970s.” Translated into Chinese for Age of Hybridity: Cultural Identity, Gender, Everyday Life Practice in Hong Kong Cinema of the 1970s, K.C. Lo, ed. (Oxford University Press of Hong Kong, 2006)

“The Hypnosis Horror Films of the 1950s: Genre Texts and Industrial Context”

Journal of Film and Video, vol. 54, nos. 2-3 (Summer/Fall 2002)

“Genre Films and the Inner-City Theater: Distributing Night of the Living Dead” Cinema Journal, vol. 41, no. 4 (Spring 2002) reprinted in Mark Jencovich, ed. Film Histories (Manchester University Press, 2005)

“A Social Poetics of Pornography: Review of Linda Williams’ Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and The “Frenzy of the Visible” in Quarterly Review of Film and Video (Spring 1994)

In Press / Under Consideration

“Risen From the Vaults: Horror Remakes in the New Hollywood” Manuscript submitted to Cinema Journal (December 2009)

“Prurient [Dis]Interest: Grove Press, the Supreme Court, and the 1968 U.S. Release and Reception of I Am Curious (Yellow) in Sex Scenes: The Sexual Revolution and American Popular Culture, ed. Eric Schaefer Final revisions and illustrations sent to Duke University Press December 2009 

“If You Ache Beneath Your Intestines, This Picture is For You! Curt McDowell’s Thundercrack!” in Peep Shows: The Sexually Explicit Cult Film, edited by Xavier Mendik and Ernest Mathjis (Wallflower Press, 2009, forthcoming)
Illustrations and final revisions and illustrations sent to Wallflower December 2008

Professional Experience

Kevin Heffernan teaches a wide array of courses which include:

Topics in Film and Television: Dumb White Guy Culture (Fall 2007, Fall 2010)
Introduction to Film and Video Aesthetics (Fall 2000, Spring 2001, Fall 2004, Fall 2005, Fall 2006, Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2010)
International Film History (Spring and Summer 1999, Summer 2000, Spring 2003, Fall 2005-2010)
American Popular Film: Animal Gross-Out Comedy (Summer 2002-2010)
American Popular Film: Postwar American Cinema (Spring 2004)
Film History II: History of the America Cinema (Fall 2004, Fall 2005, Fall 2008)
Screen Artists: Exploitation Film (Fall 2006, Spring 2010)
Screen Artists: Contemporary Action Cinema (Summer 2005, Summer 2006, Summer 2008, Summer 2010)
Screen Artists: History of Japanese Cinema (Spring 2003, Spring 2005, Fall 2009)
Screen Artists: Contemporary Asian Cinema: Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand (Spring 2004, Summer 2008, Summer 2009)
Screen Artists: History of Hong Kong Cinema (Fall 2001, Summer 2002-2004, Fall 2007, Fall 2009)
Screen Artists: Cinema of Sex and Violence (Summer 1999-2008)
Great Directors: Contemporary Japanese Cinema (Spring 2005, Fall 2006)
Great Directors: The Horror Film (Summer 2000, 2001)
Cultural Formations: Contemporary East Asian Cinema (Summer 2008)

History of British Cinema-SMU Summer Abroad in London (Summer 2001, Summer 2008)
Postwar European Cinema-SUM Summer Abroad in Rome (Summer 1998)
Producers Seminar (Fall 1998)
Mass Media and Society (Summer 1998)
16mm Film Production III: Advanced Production Seminar (Spring 1999)
16mm Film Production II (Spring 1998, Fall 1998, Fall 1999, Spring 2000, Spring 2001)
16mm Film Production I (Fall 1997 – Spring 2002)
Basic Screenwriting (Fall and Spring 1997, Fall 1999)
American Popular Film: Hollywood in the Fifties (Fall 1997)
Graduate Seminar in Film and Television: Research Methods (Fall 2008)
Graduate Seminar: Film and Television Theory (Spring 2005)
Graduate Seminar: Historiography of Film and Television (Spring 2003, Spring 2008)

Kevin Heffernan