Christine SprenglerWestern University art history professor Christine Sprengler will discuss the 1978 musical Grease in a free public lecture Friday.

Lecture to consider “Grease” as expression of and influence on 1950s nostalgia

By the time the romantic comedy Grease was released in 1978, America had already experienced a decade-long surge of 1950s nostalgia, says Christine Sprengler.

In what she dubs “The Jukebox Fifties,” music — and film musical — history is used to confront social history, opening up the past to new analyses. It is a vision of the 1950s that privileges the experiences of youth, popular music, and social spaces central to the articulation of youth identities.

Dr. Sprengler, a professor of art history at Western University, will explore these themes in a free public lecture “Grease and the Jukebox Fifties,” at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in room 107, Alan Wildeman Centre for Creative Arts.

Considering a number of strategies including the film’s recourse to the classical musical genre, its casting, and elaborate use of star images, she will conclude with Grease’s legacy and shifts in 1950s nostalgic expressions, specifically how Grease Live! (2016), Badsville (2017), and rockabilly style and culture have responded to Grease’s constructions of sexuality, race, and gender.

Sprengler is the author of Screening Nostalgia (2009), Hitchcock and Contemporary Art (2014), and Fractured Fifties, under contract with Oxford University Press. Learn more about her UWindsor appearance on the event website