American Studies HKU School of Modern Languages and Cultures HKU
HomeStaffUndergraduatePostgraduateInternationalInternshipCareerNewsContact

Academic Staff

Dr. Tim Gruenewald
Programme Director
Associate Professor

Email: tgruene(at)hku.hk

Tim Gruenewald


Tim Gruenewald researches and teaches US cultural and visual studies with a focus on popular culture, including virtual reality, film, television, graphic narrative, and museum exhibitions. His research investigates how narrative construction of contested pasts intersects with the imagination of collective identities in the present. Prior to joining the University of Hong Kong, he taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has served as the Director of the American Studies Programme since 2014.

Dr. Gruenewald is the author of Curating America’s Painful Past: Museums, Memory, and the National Imagination (University Press of Kansas, 2021), which examines how memory of collective violence and the US national imagination collide in historical museums of the National Mall. Recent publications include Rethinking America's Past: Voices from the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection (editor. Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati Press, 2019) and Imperial Benevolence: U.S. Foreign Policy and American Popular Culture Since 9/11 (co-editor with Scott Laderman. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2018). He is the co-editor of the Asian Cinema Journal special issue Cinematic Currents between China and the US (with George Wang). His articles have appeared in Cultural Studies, The Journal of American Culture, Communication, Culture, and Critique, and elsewhere.

Currently, Dr. Gruenewald is working on a new research project on linear narratives in 360° film and VR experiences. Funded by the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong, this project develops VR theory and examines contested memories of US history in the emerging narrative medium.

Dr. Gruenewald is also a filmmaker. His documentary feature Sacred Ground was selected for the competition at several international festivals in the United States and won the Independent Spirit Award at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema in 2015. The film establishes surprising connections between two iconic memory sites in the United States: Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Click here for access to published work and CV.

Recent Publications

Book Curating America’s Painful Past: Memory, Museums, and the National Imagination

(University Press of Kansas, 2021)

"Curating America's Painful Past explores the vital contest between the dream of casting America's past as a virtuous story and the need to come to terms with the pain and suffering it has caused.”

John Bodnar, Indiana University

"Curating America's Painful Past makes powerfully clear that the National Mall in Washington, DC, is an ongoing script through which US national identity is curated and contested. In an incisive critical analysis of the museums on the Mall that are wrestling with painful national pasts, this book reveals the limitations of the national story told on the Washington Mall and challenges us to imagine other possibilities.”

Marita Sturken, New York University

"At a moment of national reckoning with traumatic histories of racial oppression, Tim Gruenewald offers deep insight into several sites casting these painful pasts, contributing to a broader collective forgetting that has long stymied the fight for racial justice.”

Nicole Maurantonio, University of Richmond

articla "Enshrining Terror for the Nation: Affect and Nationalism at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.”

Communication, Culture, and Critique, online first, September 2021.

articla "Progress versus Social Justice: Memory and the National Imagination at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

Journal of American Culture 44 (2), 2021.

screen "Feeling Good: Humanitarian Virtual Reality Film, Emotional Style and Global Citizenship." Co-authored with Saskia Witteborn.

Cultural Studies, online first, May 2020.

Rethinking Rethinking America's Past: Voices from the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection

(Editor. Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati Press, 2019)

"The premise behind Rethinking America's Past is that artwork and printed items in the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection are “voices” through which to reconstruct an often-neglected historical narrative ... Gruenewald has compiled essays by scholars ... to delve deeper into the experiences of African Americans in American history ... offer[ing] insights rarely considered."

Journal of American History (107.4, 2021)

"… this book is valuable for revealing the astonishing breadth of the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection. Such books are themselves acts of generosity as they preserve and open a door to parts of the past not necessarily valued by mainstream collections and archives ... Highly recommended."

CHOICE (57.7, 2020)

Imperial   Imperial Benevolence: U.S. Foreign Policy and American Popular Culture Since 9/11

(Co-editor with Scott Laderman. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2018)

"The essayists make a convincing argument for commercially successful popular culture productions contributing to the soft power of U.S. imperialism by underscoring the message that the United States is a benevolent power in its fight for freedom and by eliding naked self-interest."

Journal of American History (106.2, 2019)

"This is an exceptionally valuable and truly terrifying anthology. As a model of American Studies scholarship, its tapestry—woven of multiple genres of popular culture, contemporary U.S. foreign policy, political figures, and economic forces—reveals how profoundly and thoroughly the ethos of empire has come to shape the life and thought of twenty-first-century America."

H. Bruce Franklin, Rutgers University

Asian   Cinematic Currents between China and the US

Co-editor with George Wang of a special issue of Asian Cinema, 29.1, 2018
 
Documentary Film

Sacred   Sacred Ground

USA, 2015, 93 minutes, directed by Tim Gruenewald and Ludwig Schmidtpeter

Awards

Independent Spirit Award, International Festival of Cinema, 2015, Idyllwild, CA
Award of Merit, The Accolade Film Awards, 2014, La Jolla, CA

Official Film Festival Selections

International Festival of Cinema, 2015, Idyllwild, CA, 2015
True Independent Film Festival, Seattle, WA, 2015
Athens International Film and Video Festival, Athens, OH, 2015
International Association for Media and Communication Research Film Festival, Cartagena, Colombia, 2017

 

American Studies HKU