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Programme Director, American Studies

Gruenewald, Tim

American Studies
PhD University of Washington
MA Emory University
Diplom (BA, MA) University of Mannheim


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.

KE projects

Remembering Painful Past: A Mobile Geolocation Application for Visitors of the National Mall in Washington, DC

This project creates and promotes a mobile geolocation application about painful history on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Using augmented virtual reality functionality, the app teaches site-specific national and local history such as the use of slave labor to build iconic sites.

Reframing the Kinsey Collection for Local Audiences and Raising Awareness of African American History and Culture in Hong Kong

This project brought the Kinsey Collection of African American History and Culture to Hong Kong and organized related public lectures and concerts. 

Tel. No.



538, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus

HKU Scholars Hub


Region and Language

North America, Europe, English, German

Research Area

Key Publications



Courses offered in


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