Christine Sprengler


Dr. Christine Sprengler, Professor (Art History)
Ph.D., Birkbeck College, University of London, 2004
M.A., The University of Western Ontario, 1999
B.A., The University of Western Ontario, 1997

Research Interests

Areas of Specialization: cinematic installation art, new media art, and the relationships between cinema and the visual arts; cultural memory, nostalgia, and representations of history in film and television

My research practice is interdisciplinary and invested in the potential for art, film, television, and other media to critically engage in cultural memory work, perform theory, produce histories, and confront historical exclusions on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, and class. By working through various intersections between aesthetics and politics across a landscape of visual cultural practices, I have been concerned with rethinking the value and possibilities of nostalgia and the power of art to function as a form of scholarship in its own right. As such, there are two key streams of inquiry that define my research practice, one grounded in media and cultural memory, the other in contemporary art and its capacity to produce knowledge about cinema.

Current Research:
My current projects extend these two primary streams of research in new directions. I am presently completing my third book, Fractured Fifties: The Cinematic Periodization and Evolution of a Decade, a study of how film contributes to the process of decade periodization and participates in debates about the formation, uses, and circulation of American cultural memory. While this monograph develops my first stream, I am attempting to advance my second stream by focusing on how contemporary visual artists confront the future of memory and its restructuring at the hands of Artificial Intelligence. Specifically, I analyze creative gestures that intervene in a series of questions about memory – its sites, practices, enabling technologies, visual and auditory registers, and possible futures – as well as how artists use AI in ways that confront not just the mechanics of memory, but also the politics of contested, forgotten, and devalued memories.


Sprengler, C. Screening Nostalgia: Populuxe Props and Technicolor Aesthetics in Contemporary American Film (Oxford: Berghahn Books, January 2009, 198pp); Paperback, 2011.

Sprengler, C. Hitchcock and Contemporary Art. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014.

Sprengler, C. Fractured Fifties: The Cinematic Periodization and Evolution of a Decade, (under contract with Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2021)


Sprengler, C., “Paratextual Encounters of Four Kinds: Blade Runner and Cinematic Memory,” Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 60.2 (formerly Cinema Journal), 2021.

Sprengler, C. “Cinema and the Visual Arts.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies. Ed. Krin Gabbard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012; updated 2019. (16,000 words)

Sprengler, C. “Midcentury Metamodern: Returning Home in the 21st Century Nostalgia Film,” in Matthew Leggatt, ed. Was it Yesterday? Nostalgia in Contemporary Film and Television, SUNY Press, 2021.

Sprengler, C. “Chamber Made Opera’s Phobia (2003) and Jean Curran’s The Vertigo Project (2018): The Sounds and Sights of Vertigo’s Afterlife in Art,” in Vertigo 60, eds. Sidney Gottlieb and Donal Martin, John Libbey, forthcoming 2019.

Sprengler, C. “Cinematic Periodization and Time’s Percolations: Grease, The Fifties, and Now,” in Peter Kramer and Oliver Gruner, eds. Grease, Anthem Press, 2019.

Sprengler, C. “Modern Art and Retromediated Histories: Pleasantville and Far From Heaven” in Jilly Boyce Kay, Cat Mahoney, and Caitlin Shaw, eds. The Past in Visual Culture: Essays on Memory, Nostalgia and the Media. McFarland, 2016.

Sprengler, C. “‘In a Hundred Years of Cinema…’: Cultural Memory and Musealization in Harun Farocki’s Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades,” in Gabriele Muller and Peter McIsaac, “Exhibiting the German Past: Museums, Film, Musealization,” University of Toronto Press, 2015.

Sprengler, C. “Past Failures and Future Promises: Mark Lewis’ Children’s Games, Heygate Estate”, in Bridget Elliott, ed. Breaking and Entering: The House Cut, Spliced and Haunted, McGill-Queens, 2015.

Sprengler, C. “The Future of History in Dennis Potter’s Cold Lazarus”, in Tobias Hochscherf and James Leggott, eds. British Science Fiction Film and Television, McFarland, 2011.

Sprengler, C. “Complicating Camelot: Nostalgia and Deliberate Archaism in MadMen” in Scott F. Stoddart ed. Analyzing MadMen: Critical Essays on the Television Series, McFarland, 2011.

Sprengler, C. “The Vestiges of Vertigo in Contemporary Art: Cindy Bernard, David Reed and Douglas Gordon,” in Douglas Cunningham ed. The San Francisco of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo: Place, Pilgrimage, and Commemoration, Scarecrow, 2011.

Co-curators: Mark Cheetham, Andy Patton, Christine Sprengler, Conspiracies of Illusion: Projections of Time and Space, August 28 – November 3, 2012, McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Ontario.

Graduate Supervision

Supervisor/Committee Member (PhD)

1. Miriam Jordan, “Plastic Bodies: Dialogism and the Moving Image in Contemporary Visual Art”, (Chief Supervisor), completed 2012

2. Matthew Smith, “Relational Viewing: Affect, Trauma, and the Viewer in Contemporary Autobiographical Art,” (Committee Member), completed 2012

3. Stephanie Radu, “Making Ourselves at Home: Representation, Preservation and Interpretation at Canada’s House Museums,” (Committee Member), completed 2014

4. Trista Mallory, “Standing for Something Not Present: Contested Representations in Contemporary Art,” (Committee Member), completed 2015

5. Tom Baynes, “More than a Spasm, Less than a Sign: Gesture and the Visibility of Queer Masculinity in the United States, 1915-1955,” (Chief Supervisor), Summer 2019.

Chief Supervisor (MA MFA)

1. Marina Folescu, “On Stillness and Movement in Videos by Bill Viola, Mark Lewis, and Stacey Lancaster”, (MA) completed 2005

2. Brendan Fernandes, “The Kenyan Safari Lodge: Fantasizing about an Authentic Vacation Culture” (MFA) completed 2005 [Co-supervision]

3. Iuliana Strambeanu, “Cinematic Experiments in Multimedia Installations by Janet Cardiff, Doug Aitken, and Pierre Huyghe” (MA) completed 2006

4. Dagmara Genda, “Identity and Exile” (MFA) completed 2007 [Co-supervision]

5. Rima Puteris, “The Absent Body: Ana Mendieta and Janine Antoni”, (MA) completed 2008

6. Sonja Peters, “At the Scene, On the Screen, and Beyond: Experiences and Representations of Coney Island in Early Twentieth Century Photography and Film” (MA, Visual Arts), completed 2009

7. Caitlin Shaw, “Retrochic and Thatcher’s Skeletons: The Eighties in Contemporary British Film,” (MA, Film Studies), completed 2010

8. Stephanie Radu, “Sarah Lucas: Food for Thought”, (MA), completed 2010

9. Melissa Ruhloff, “Re-inventing the Group of Seven,” (MA, Visual Arts), completed 2012

10. Sophie Quick, “Putting in Time: Long-Durational Performance Spectatorship,” (MA, Visual Arts), completed 2012

11. Amy Gaizauskas, “A Wishy-Washy, Sort-of Feeling: Episodes in the History of the Wishy-Washy Aesthetic,” (MA, Visual Arts), completed 2014

12. Matthew Purvis, (MA, Visual Arts), co-supervison, completed 2015

13. Brianna Hachez Lagace, “Animated Art History: A Look into Disney’s Representation of Artwork in Film (MA, Visual Arts), completed 2018

Recent Courses

VAH1041b: Art, Visual Culture, and Power
VAH 2283E: Art and the Mass Media
VAH 2284E: History of the Moving Image
VAH 3391G: New Media Art and Its Histories
VAH3391F: Hollywood Cinema and Contemporary Art
VAH4660F: Seminar in Film and the Moving Image
AH1020: Signs and Events: The Changing Face of Culture

VAH583G: Screening Memory: Video Art and Film
VAH9578F Paracinema
VAS/H9500 Theory and Criticism and Western Culture