Christine Sprengler


Dr. Christine Sprengler, Associate 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


Christine Sprengler’s research focuses on cinematic installation art, new media art and the relationships between cinema and the visual arts. Cultural memory and nostalgia in visual culture have also become interests as well as representations of history in contemporary (British and American) cinema and television.

The Fifties: 1970 to the Present

This research is concerned with the various ways in which the Fifties (as a construct that is somewhat mythic, largely nostalgic and, to a point – I would argue – historical) has been mobilized in visual culture since the 1970s. My research into the social, cultural and political implications of this construct is motivated and structured by several interconnected questions: What sort of entity is this category we call the Fifties? How do we begin to make sense of something that pervades so many aspects of life? Something recognizable, identifiable and thus generating a degree of consensus about what it is, but at the same time rife with contradiction and ambiguity. Something fluid, evolving, and existing in multiple forms and used in the service of multiple agendas. How do we circumscribe the Fifties, or justify the parameters used to include its constituent parts? And if indeed a working definition or general ontology is possible, how might we set about assessing its functions and significance, historically and historiographically speaking? Part of this project involves identifying and analyzing some of its key manifestations including the ‘Lounge Fifties’, ‘McCarthyite Fifties’, ‘(Meta)cinematic Fifties’, ‘Levittownesque Fifties’, etc.


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

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


“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.

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

“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.

“Cinema and the Visual Arts.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies. Ed. Krin Gabbard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

“David Reed: Thinking Through Cinema,” Conspiracies of Illusion: Projections of Time and Space, ed. Mark Cheetham, McMaster Museum of Art, 2012. (Exhibition Catalogue)

“‘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.

“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.

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.

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)

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

Matthew Smith, Confessional Art,(Committee Member), completed 2012

Stephanie Radu, House Museums,(Committee Member), completed 2014

Trista Mallory,Contested Representations (Committee Member), completed 2015

Sophie Quick, Committee Member, in progress

Chief Supervisor (MA MFA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caitlin Shaw, Retrochic and Thatchers Skeletons: The Eighties in Contemporary British Film, (MA, Film Studies), completed 2010

Stephanie Radu, Sarah Lucas: Food for Thought, (MA), completed 2010

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

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

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

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

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
AH1020: Signs and Events: The Changing Face of Culture

Graduate Courses

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