Visual Arts DepartmentWestern Arts and Humanities

Christine Sprengler

Ph.D. Birkbeck College, University of London (Film), 2004
M.A. University of Western Ontario (Art History), 1999
B.A. University of Western Ontario (Political Science and Visual Arts), 1997



Cinematic installation art, new media, cultural memory and nostalgia in visual culture, the relationships between film and the visual arts, contemporary American cinema.

Current Projects

Hitchcock and Contemporary Art (forthcoming 2014)

This book is a study of contemporary art that engages the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. Through a series of  case studies, it makes a claim for the value of such practices and their contributions to our understanding of the significance and cultural legacy of Hitchcock’s films and, more broadly, to the cinema itself. I argue that these artworks, motivated by both cinephilia and epistemophilia, have the capacity to produce and complicate knowledge about the cinema and to perform a kind of film theory in the process. By orienting my focus on art about Hitchcock, I also expand the purview of scholarship on the “cinematic turn” in art to include practices beyond the moving image, which involve sculpture, installation, drawing, photography, and sound art, among other forms. 

The Fifties in the Cinematic Imagination: 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 films released 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, in press, forthcoming 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, “The Past on Display: Museum, Film, Musealization,” forthcoming.

“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, forthcoming.

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

Chief Supervisor and Committee Member (PhD)

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

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

Stephanie Radu, Committee Member, in progress

Trista Mallory, 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 Thatcher’s 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, in progress

Recent Courses

VAH1040E: History of Art and Visual Culture 
VAH 2283E: Art and the Mass Media 
VAH 2284E: History of the Moving Image 
VAH 3391G: New Media Art and Its Histories 
VAH 4475G: The Moving Image in Contemporary Canadian Art
VAH 4475G: Video Art in Canada 
VAH 4478F Paracinema 

Graduate Courses

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