American Studies
American Studies

Study abroad in Vienna, Austria, during May and June 2019!

This intensive, four-and-a-half week course is part of UT-Austin’s Maymester Program, beginning after the spring exam period and concluding prior to the second summer session. Drawing on the perspectives from history, geography, and urban studies, “Memory and the City” investigates the ways in which cultural memory has shaped, and continues to shape, urban life in one specific place: Vienna, Austria. With the city as our laboratory, students examine theoretical discussions of memory and the city in a provocative geographical setting. We will visit museums that house the artifacts and attend the cultural events so important to Vienna’s collective memory.

Students earn three semester credit hours for the course, but will receive much more. According to those who have previously taken the course, it can be a life-enriching experience. In addition to the study of urban history, the course readings, the instructor and guest lectures, the films, the class excursions, and the meetings with Austrian students and teachers, perhaps the most striking feature of the program is the personal development and intellectual growth it fosters.

Participants speak about their experiences in Vienna...

"It’s difficult for me to vocalize the extent of my gratitude for both the personal and academic rewards I’ve felt by participating in the Vienna: Memory and the City Maymester program. I arrived home a month ago, and still every day I am surprised by how often I encounter things I’ve learned, both about a bustling, idyllic foreign place, but also about myself and my American home. I strongly recommend the program for any student, regardless of field or interest, because the course builds in such a variety of study – from art and music, urban ethnography, politics, psychology, architecture, environmental studies – AND an array of activities – hiking through the Vienna woods, sampling wine and schnitzel at local Heurigans, canoeing, listening to live operas and symphonies, and stopping for gelato – all included. When I came back to my Austin friends, they asked if I even took a course — “You always looked like you were out on the town having a blast in pictures.” While, YES, I made some of the happiest memories, I did so also knowing that I was learning a great deal. The course examines how people create contemporary culture by building upon both the great successes and failures of the past, celebrating the bygone treasures and ignoring history’s horrors. Vienna is the perfect place to explore this concept; it is truly a land that makes peace between the old and the new. 

Now, a word about Professor Hoelscher: it’s not often that you find a mentor who deeply respects academic inquiry, but also equally recognizes the value of personal exploration, especially during a time when students have an opportunity to discover the unknowns of a new world. Prof. Hoelscher delicately planned each class, reading, and adventure, (often building in surprises along the way), but also understands (from studying abroad in Vienna himself in his 20’s!) the importance of letting students explore their own interests. He makes room to do so in plenty of allotted free time, but also within the parameters of the course itself. Prof. Hoelscher is the perfect guide, offering both humor and wisdom, and he provides an example of lifelong learning, simultaneously embodying an image of a careful critic, but also of a creative thinker and modest leader. 

All I can say is that if you have the chance to take this class, jump on it. You will return home feeling full, not just with Apfelstrudel, but with a trove of cherished memories, and with a curiosity to explore your own world with fresh eyes, clearer and wider open. - Vivie Behrens (Studio Art)." 

Read more about student experiences or you can watch an amazing video about Maymester created by alumn Joseph Lam