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Steven D Hoelscher

ProfessorPh.D., Geography, 1995, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Department Chair, Professor, Academic Curator for Photography, Harry Ransom Center
Steven D Hoelscher



Born and raised in the Upper Midwest, Professor Hoelscher got to Texas as soon as he could. He joined the Department of American Studies in 2000, after first teaching at LSU and, before that, completing his Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Wisconsin. During 2003-2004, he was Senior Fulbright Professor in the North American Studies Program at the University of Bonn.

Research Interests

Professor Hoelscher’s research interests include: North American and European urbanism; social constructions of space and place, landscape and region; ethnicity and race; cultural memory; the geography of tourism; and the history of photography. His books include Picturing Indians (winner of the 2009 Wisconsin Historical Society Book Award of Merit), Heritage on Stage, and Textures of Place (co-edited with Karen Till and Paul Adams), and he has published more than 30 book chapters and articles in such journals as American Indian Culture and Research Journal, American Quarterly, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Ecumene (now, Cultural Geographies), Geographical Review, GeoJournal, Journal of Historical Geography, Public Historian, and Social and Cultural Geography.  

Courses Taught

Professor Hoelscher teaches across the fields of American Studies, Geography, and History, and regularly offers the following courses: Introduction to American Studies, The Cultures of Cities, Memory and Place, American Space and Place, The Geography of Tourism, Constructing the American Landscape, and the History of American Photography. During the past few summers, he has taught a study abroad course in Vienna, Austria, and, in 2005, Dr. Hoelscher received the University of Texas President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award.


EUS 346 • Vienna: Memory/The City-Aut

35665 • Spring 2015
(also listed as AMS 370, GRG 356T, GSD 360, HIS 362G, URB 354)

Please check back for updates.

EUS 306 • Vienna: Memory & The City-Aut

36470 • Spring 2011
(also listed as AMS 315, GRC 311, HIS 306N, URB 305)

Among the world’s major cities, Vienna, Austria, stands out as a place where the past remains a uniquely powerful shaper of collective identity—an identity that is also shaped by equally powerful forces to forget that very past. The urban landscapes of Vienna have long been inscribed by layers of collective remembering and forgetting: the city’s famous nineteenth-century Ringstraße, with its monumental government, educational, religious, and cultural institutions was constructed with memories of older building traditions clearly in mind; while avant-garde architects and artists who followed explicitly rejected connections to the past. From Sigmund Freud’s influential theories of the psychological unconscious to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s efforts to create a distinctly ahistorical philosophical system, Viennese thinkers have been at the vanguard of debates about the power of memory. And the profound upheavals of the Second World War and the Holocaust further fractured collective remembering, leading to Vienna’s deep ambivalence to recent history. Today’s Vienna, fully immersed in a global political-economy, bears witness to the deep impress of the past in the contemporary world.

The purpose of this course is to study the ways in which cultural memory has shaped, and continues to shape, urban life in one specific place: Vienna, Austria. For individuals and groups alike, memory forms an essential component of their social identity; by definition, it involves sharing, discussion, negotiation, and conflict. Cultural memory is produced in various forms—from memorials, public art, and commodities to popular culture, rituals, and museums—and is inevitably anchored in cities. Museums and memorials, for example, have been historically built as official places of memory in prominent cities to communicate a sense of national history and citizenship. Yet, due to the distinct interests of diverse social groups, these urban pasts are open to multiple interpretations that, in many cases, lead to willful and organized forgetting.

Our study of cultural memory in Vienna will explore the city’s changing cultural landscapes during four important periods during its modern development. We will see, for example, how the different layers of Austria’s history have literally become part of the Viennese built environment. We will also visit the many museums that house the artifacts and visual culture so important to Vienna’s collective memory, and we will attend opera and theater performances that call forth the city’s unique heritage.  This kind of direct exploration, and the course requirement of daily reflections on these structures and spaces, can only be done on-location, where students have the opportunity to explore the terrain of memory. With Vienna as our laboratory, students will examine theoretical discussions of memory and the city in a provocative geographical setting.



Inge Lehne and Lonnie Johnson, Vienna: The Past in the Present

Course Reader



25%     Place Notes: A Daily Fieldwork Journal

25%     One 30-minute guided commentary for the entire class of one site, structure, museum, etc

10%     One 1-hour exam

40%      Participation in all city tours and class discussions




Reading Magnum: A Visual Archive of the Modern World (University of Texas Press, 2013).

Picturing Indians: Photographic Encounters and Tourist Fantasies in H.H. Bennett’s Wisconsin Dells (University of Wisconsin Press, Studies in American Thought and Culture Series, September 2008). Winner of the 2009 Wisconsin Historical Society Book Award of Merit.

Textures of Place: Exploring Humanist Geographies (University of Minnesota Press, 2001). Co-edited with Paul Adams and Karen Till.

Heritage on Stage: The Invention of Ethnic Place in America’s Little Switzerland (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Retired’: Magnum’s Photo Archive Begins a New Career,” Rundbrief Fotografie 22, no. 3 (September 2015): 7-15, with Andrea Gustavson

A Landscape of Ruins: Roman Vishniac’s Return to Postwar Berlin,” in Roman Vishniac Rediscovered, edited Maya Benton (New York: Prestel/International Center for Photography, 2015), 213-222.

Making Space Public in an American City,” in Cultures of Privacy: Paradigms, Transformations, Contestations, edited by Karsten Fitz and Bärbel Harju (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2015), 77-93, with Trushna Parekh.

Magnum’s New York,” in New York, New York!, edited by Sabine Sielke (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2015), 99-119.

"Photography," in The Ashgate Research Companion to Media Geography, edited by Paul C. Adams, Jim Craine, and Jason Dittmer (Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2014), 17-38.

"'Dresden, a Camera Accuses': Rubble Photography and the Politics of Memory in a Divided Germany," History of Photography 36, no. 3 (August 2012): 1-18.

"Place," in The Blackwell Companion to Human Geography, edited by John A. Agnew and James S. Duncan (London: Blackwell Publishing, 2011), 245-259.

Methods: Landscape Iconography,” in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, edited by Rob Kitchin and Nigel Thrift (London: Elsevier Publishing, 2009).
Angels of Memory: Photography and Haunting in Guatemala City,” GeoJournal 73, no.4. (2008): 195-217.
Viewing the Gilded Age River: Photography and Tourism along the Wisconsin Dells,” in Rivers in History: Perspectives on Waterways in Europe and North America, edited by Christof Mauch and Thomas Zeller(University of Pittsburgh  Press, 2008), 149-171.
The White-Pillared Past: Landscapes of Memory and Race in the American South,” in Richard Schein (ed) Race and Landscape in America (Routledge 2006), 39-72.
Heritage,” in Sharon MacDonald (ed) The Blackwell Companion of Museum Studies (Blackwell Publishers, 2006), 198-218.
"Cultural Landscape," in Barney Warf (ed) The Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Sage Publications 2006), 75-78.
Historical Geography,” in Barney Warf (ed) The Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Sage Publications 2006), 210-216.
"Memory, Heritage, and Tradition in the Construction of Regional Memory: A View from Geography," in Lothar Honnighasen (ed) Regionalism in the Age of Globalism (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005) 27-44.
Memory and Place: Geographies of a Critical Relationship,” Social and Cultural Geography 5, no. 3 (September 2004): 347-355. Co-authored with Derek Alderman.
Visualizing Stories of Time and Place,” American Quarterly 56, no. 1 (March 2004): 201-211.
Making Place, Making Race: Performances of Whiteness in the Jim Crow South,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93 no. 3 (September 2003): 657-686.
"Viewing Indians: Native Encounters with Power, Tourism, and the Camera," American Indian Culture and Research Journal 27, no. 4 (2003): 1-51.
‘Where the Old South Still Lives’: Displaying Heritage in Natchez, Mississippi,” in Celeste Ray (ed), Southern Heritage on Display: Public Ritual and Ethnic Diversity within Southern Regionalism (University of Alabama Press, 2003), 218-250.
America the Exotic,” American Quarterly, 52, no. 1 (March 2000): 168-178.
From Sedition to Patriotism: Cultural Performance and the Reinterpretation of American Ethnic Identity,” Journal of Historical Geography, 25, no. 4 (Fall 1999): 1-25.
The Photographic Construction of Tourist Space in Victorian America,” The Geographical Review, 88, no. 4 (October 1998 [1999]): 548-570.
Tourism, Ethnic Memory, and the Other-Directed Place,” Ecumene 5 (Fall 1998): 373-402.
"Dinseyland: It's Place in World Culture," in Karal Ann Marling (ed) Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance (Flammarion, 1997), 191-200. Second author with Yi-Fu Tuan.

Exhibition Catalogues

Elliot Erwitt's Art of Observation: Photographs from the Collection of Richard Coplan and Marting R. Mallinger (Boca Raton Museum of Art, 2014).

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