Maria San Filippo

Assistant ProfessorCommunication and Media Studies

Maria San Filippo is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Goucher College. Her work examines screen media’s intersections with gender and sexuality, focusing on representations and discourses of feminisms and queerness in contemporary film and television. She teaches courses on American and world cinema, film genres, and gender and sexuality in media. She is author of The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television (Indiana University Press, 2013), which received a Lambda Literary Award, and the forthcoming monograph Sexual Provocation in 21st Century Screen Media. Since receiving her Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA, she has been a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Cinema and Media Studies at Wellesley College and has taught at Harvard University, Indiana University Bloomington, and University of the Arts (Philadelphia). In addition to her academic publications, she writes film and television criticism for various media journals and blogs about 21st century film and film-going at She is also editor of the academic journal New Review of Film and Television.

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Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress

My first book, The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television (Indiana University Press, 2013), analyzes bisexual erotics and subjectivities in works ranging from art cinema and sexploitation film, to queer film, to Hollywood cinema, to television. Demonstrating how bisexual tropes function importantly in screen narration, marketing, and spectatorship, The B Word indicates bisexuality’s importance for queer media theory as a means to “unthink” what I term compulsory monosexuality.

My current manuscript, Sexual Provocation in 21st Century Screen Media, under contract with Indiana University Press, considers how sexual provocation functions as authorial signature and promotional strategy within the contemporary mediascape. Seeking to recover the political force of the provocative, I examine how key “provocauteurs” and provocations, enabled by new digital channels and virtual forums for dissemination and discourse, mobilize controversy as a means of resisting sexual hegemonies.

Before becoming its editor, I guest edited a special issue of New Review of Film and Television on the topic of “radical romantic comedy”. I am editing a collection of new scholarly essays titled After “Happily Ever After”: Romantic Comedy in the Post-Romantic Age (under contract with Wayne State University Press). Analyzing works that represent romance in ideologically and artistically innovative ways, these collections attest to romantic comedy’s continuing vitality, in new modes and forms that reimagine and rejuvenate the genre.

I am readying for publication two articles focusing on queer women’s comedy web series, which reflect my interest in this emergent mode’s use of DIY praxis and self-reflexive humor to negotiate alternative circuits of production and circulation, sexual and political themes, and audience sensibilities. Having attended a NEH-funded workshop on videographic criticism at Middlebury College in 2018, I also am focused on integrating digital scholarship into my research.


“The Politics of Fluidity: Representing Bisexualities in 21st Century Screen Media.” In The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex, and Sexuality, ed. Feona Attwood, R. Danielle Egan, Brian McNair and Clarissa Smith. Routledge, 2017. 70-80.

“Doing Time: Queer Temporalities and Orange Is the New Black.” In A Netflix Reader: Critical Essays on Streaming Media, Digital Delivery, and Instant Access, ed. Myc Wiatrowski and Cory Barker. McFarland, 2017. 75-97.

“Female Trouble: Representing Transwomen in The Danish Girl and The New Girlfriend," Journal of Bisexuality 16.3 (2016): 403-407.

“Art Porn Provocauteurs: Queer Feminist Performances of Embodiment in the Work of Catherine Breillat and Lena Dunham.” Performance and the Body special issue, Velvet Light Trap 77 (Spring 2016): 28-49. Reprinted in Reading Lena Dunham’s Girls: Feminism, Post-Feminism, Authenticity, and Gendered Performance in Contemporary Television, ed. Meredith Nash and Imelda Whelehan. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 221-238.

“Sexual Inbetweener/Industry Inbetweener: The Career and Films of Lisa Cholodenko.” In Indie Reframed: Women’s Filmmaking and Contemporary American Independent Cinema, ed. Linda Badley, Claire Perkins, and Michele Schreiber. Edinburgh University Press, 2016. 221-238.

 “Transparent Family Values: Unmasking Sitcom Myths of Gender, Sex(uality), and Money.” In The Sitcom Reader: America Re-viewed, Still Skewed, 2nd edition, ed. Mary M. Dalton and Laura R. Linder. SUNY Press, 2016. 305-318.

“A Tale of Two Suzannes: À nos amours (For Our Loves, 1983) and Suzanne (2013),” Senses of Cinema 77 (December 2015).

“‘Selling Film’ in the summer of 2015: Midnight Sun, Il Cinema Ritrovato, and Karlovy Vary,” NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies (Autumn 2015).

“Before and After AfterEllen: Online Queer Cinephile Communities as Critical Counterpublics.” In Film Criticism in the Digital Age, ed. Mattias Frey and Cecilia Sayad. Rutgers University Press, 2015. 117-136.

“Growing Old Together: Linklater’s Before Trilogy in the Twilight Years of Art House Distribution,” Film Quarterly 68.3 (Spring 2015): 53-59.

“A Room of Its Own: Screening Space and Spectatorial Experience in Yang Fudong’s Fifth Night and Omer Fast’s Continuity,” Art + Film special issue, CineAction 91 (2013): 14-18.

“More Than Buddies: Wedding Crashers and the Bromance as Comedy of (Re)Marriage Equality.” In Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema, ed. Timothy Shary. Wayne State University Press, 2013. 181-199. 

“A Cinema of Recession: Micro-budgeting, Micro-drama, and the “Mumblecore” Movement,” Slow Film special issue, CineAction 85 (2011): 2-11.

“Unthinking Heterocentrism: Bisexual Representability in Art Cinema.” In Global Art Cinema, ed. Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover. Oxford University Press, 2010. 75-91.

“What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One,” Film History 13.2 (2001): 216-225.

External Awards, Honors, Grants

Scholarship in Sight & Sound Workshop, Middlebury College, 2018

Best Essay in an Edited Collection, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 2016 (awarded to “Before and After AfterEllen: Online Queer Cinephile Communities as Critical Counterpublics”)

Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellowship, Wellesley College, 2014-2015

Lambda Literary Award, 2013 (awarded to The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television)

Certificate of Excellence, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, 2010-2013

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Cinema and Media Studies, Wellesley College, 2008-2010

Conference Papers & Panel Participation

Recent conference presentations

“Love Crimes: Incest, Murder, and Queer(ing) Romcom.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2018

“(Sex) Work or Pleasure?: Elective Sex Work Films by Contemporary Women Filmmakers.” National Women’s Studies Association Conference, 2017

“Talking Back to Papa: Feminist Rewritings of ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,’” American Literature Association Conference, 2017

“Good Sex, ‘Bad Feminists,’ and Emergent Women Provocauteurs,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2017

“Queering the Homme Fatal: Re-reading the Erotic Thriller through The New Girlfriend and Stranger by the Lake,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2016

“Captive Viewers: Learning In/humanity through Film in Dogtooth and The Wolfpack,” Screen Conference, University of Glasgow, 2015

“‘Just because I’m a lesbian doesn’t mean I’m evolved’: ‘Post-Queer’ Politics of Representation in LGBTQ Web Series,” Console-ing Passions Conference, 2015

“Looking for the Penis: Representing Gay Male Sex and Nudity in HBO’s Looking,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2015

“Doing Time: Queer Temporalities and Orange Is the New Black, Console-ing Passions Conference, 2014

“Linklater’s Before Trilogy and the Evolution of U.S. Indie Cinema,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2014

“‘Women Contained’: Figuring Feminism in the Films of Todd Haynes” [Respondent], Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2014

Invited Talks

Plenary speaker, "Post-Theatrical Rom-com and Queer Women's Comedy Web Series," Imagining 'We' in the Age of 'I': Romance and Social Bonding in Contemporary Culture symposium, University of Warwick, 2018

"Looking for Mr. Right(-Click): Coupling Cultures Today," public screening and panel discussion, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, UK, 2018

Respondent, New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre book discussion with author Martin Shuster, Goucher College, 2018

“Queer Spaces & Sexualities in 21st Century Screen Media,” Gender Studies Graduate Association Colloquium, Indiana University Bloomington, 2014

Plenary speaker, “Counterpublics.” Media in Transition 8 Conference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013

“Before and After AfterEllen: On-line Queer Communities as Critical Counterpublics,” Mediating Public Spheres Symposium, Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, 2013

“Sexual/Digital Revolution: Women Directors, Alternative Relationships, and 21st Century Independent Filmmaking,” New Media in Feminist Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Colloquium, Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, 2012

“Mumblecore: The Movement that Didn’t Roar,” MassMoCA, 2012

Paris Was a Woman,” Schlesinger Library on the History of Women, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, 2011

“Bisexual (In)visibility In and Out of Hollywood,” Newhouse Center for the Humanities, Wellesley College, 2009

Academic or Professional Associations

 Society for Cinema and Media Studies 

Other Professional or Scholarly Activity

While a post-graduate instructor at UCLA, I was awarded a grant to design and teach a seminar based on the Outfest Legacy Collection of LGBT film and media, in collaboration with the UCLA Film & Television Archive. This inaugural course, Out of the Closet, Into the Vaults: LGBT Film and the Outfest Collection, led to my continuing involvement with the Outfest organization in Los Angeles, which included organizing public screenings and serving as juror at the Outfest Film Festival.

I was co-organizer of the New Directions in Documentary Film Festival & Symposium, which took place at Wellesley College in 2009 and featured a keynote address by Albert Maysles and post-screening discussions with Natalia Almada, Su Friedrich, Ross McElwee, Susan Meiselas, and Jessica Yu.

Integral to my professional life is my commitment to initiatives and communities that foster women’s education, as demonstrated by my activities as a Research Associate in Feminist Approaches to New Media at the Five Colleges Women’s Studies Research Center in 2012-2013, as an instructor within the Boston-area Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies, and as a member of the planning committee for the Women’s Liberation Conference held at Boston University in spring 2014.

In 2014-2015, with the support of the Stevens Traveling Fellowship from Wellesley College, I conducted a year-long research project, documented on my blog The Itinerant Cinephile and in the journal NECSUS, into 21st century film exhibition, which involved visits to film festivals, art house theaters, and alternative cinema spaces throughout the U.S. and Europe.