Erika Doss

Erika Doss

B.A., Ripon College
Ph.D., University of Minnesota

1043 Flanner Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Phone: (574) 631-2706
Fax: (574) 631-4399


Erika Doss (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame.  Her wide-ranging interests in American art are reflected in the breadth of her publications, including Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991, which received the Charles C. Eldredge Prize), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995), Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (1999), Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001), Twentieth-Century American Art (2002), The Emotional Life of Contemporary Public Memorials: Towards a Theory of Temporary Memorials (2008), and Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (2010).  Doss is also co-editor of the “Culture America” series at the University Press of Kansas, and is on the editorial boards of Memory Studies, Public Art Dialogue, and Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief.  The recipient of several Fulbright awards, Doss has also held fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Curriculum Vitae


  • AMST 20001, Introduction to American Studies
  • AMST 30565, Art in America
  • AMST 30198, 20th-21st Century American Art
  • AMST 30135, Off the Wall: American Art and Culture, 1945-1970
  • AMST 30197, Public Art and Memory in America
  • AMST 30116, American Ruins
  • AMST 43142, Death in America (Senior Seminar)
  • AMST 43146, Memorial Mania (Senior Seminar)
  • AMST 47909, Senior Thesis Capstone

Publications (Complete list here)

Digital Scholarship

Recent Books 

  • 20th/21st Century American Art, Oxford University Press (2016, in progress)
  • I AM America: Art, Belief, and Ultra-patriotism During the Great Depression (in progress)
  • Picturing Faith: Religious Presence and Meaning in Modern and Contemporary American Art (in progress)
  • Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America, University of Chicago Press (2010)
  • Twentieth-Century American Art, Oxford University Press (2002)
  • (editor) Looking at Life Magazine, Smithsonian Institution Press (2001)
  • Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image, University Press of Kansas (1999)
  • Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities, Smithsonian Institution Press (1995)
  • Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism, University of Chicago Press (1991)

Recent Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Artists in Hollywood: Thomas Hart Benton and Nathanael West Picture America's Dream Dump," The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914-1945 (2011).
  • “Makes Me Laugh, Makes Me Cry: Feelings and American Art,” American Art (Fall 2011).
  • “Public Art Chronicles: Michael Heizer’s Effigy Tumuli,” Public Art Dialogue vol. 1, no. 2 (September 2011): 215-220.
  • “In Conversation: Disputation Over Sacred Space in Contemporary America,” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief vol. 7, no. 2 (July 2011): 269-271.
  • “Remembering 9/11: Memorials and Cultural Memory," OAH Magazine of History vol 25, no. 3 (July 2011): 27-30.
  • "Who Owns Historical Memory? Commemorative Conflicts in the American Southwest," in The American Uses of History: Essays on Public Memory, eds. Tomasz Basiuk, Sylwia Kuzma-Markowska, and Krystyna Mazur (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011), 17-30.
  • "Concerning the 1930s in Art," American Art Review vol. 22, no. 2 (March/April 2010): 100-107.
  • "Action, Agency, Affect: Thomas Hart Benton's Hoosier History," Indiana Magazine of History vol. 105, no. 2 (June 2009): 127-139.
  • "Affect," American Art vol. 23, no. 1 (Spring 2009): 9-11.
  • “War, Memory, and the Public Mediation of Affect: The National World War II Memorial and American Imperialism,” Memory Studies vol. 1, no. 2 (May 2008): 227-250.
  • “Memorial Mania: Fear, Anxiety, and Public Culture,” Museum (March 2008): 36-43, 72-75.
  • "Spontaneous Memorials and Contemporary Modes of Mourning in America," Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief vol. 2, no. 3 (November 2006): 294-318.
  • "Duane Hanson's Woman Eating," American Art vol. 20, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 9-12.
  • "American Moderns and the American Scene," Remapping the New: Modernism in the Midwest,1893-1945 (2005), online publication at Terra Museum of American Art website:
  • "Between Modernity and the 'Real Thing': Maynard Dixon's Mural for the Bureau of Indian Affairs," American Art vol. 18, no. 3 (Fall 2005): 8-31.
  • "Honoré Sharrer's Tribute to the American Working People: Issues of Labor and Leisure in Post- World War II American Art," American Art vol. 16, no. 3 (Fall 2002): 54-81.
  • "Believing in Elvis: Popular Piety in Material Culture," Business Perspectives vol. 14, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 30-38.
  • "Looking at Labor: Images of Work in 1930s American Art," The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts vol. 24 (2002): 230-57.
  • "Death, Art, and Memory in the Public Sphere: The Visual and Material Culture of Grief in Contemporary America," Mortality vol. 7, no. 1 (2002): 63-82.
  • Guest Editor with Robert L. McGrath, Journal of the West vol. 40, no. 4 (Fall 2001), Special Issue titled "Images of the West" with essays by Nancy Anderson, William Anthes, Rayna Green, Elizabeth Kennedy, and William Truettner, and introductory essay “From Archetype to Stereotype: The Making and Marketing of Western Art,” pp. 6-7.
  • “Hangin' Out at the Leanin' Tree: Mastery and Mythos in Western American Art, Old and New," Journal of the West vol. 40, no. 4 (Fall 2001): 16-25.

Recent Awards

  •  Ray and Pat Browne Award of the Popular Culture/American Culture Association, Best Single Authored Work in Popular and American Culture in 2010, for Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (University of Chicago Press: 2010).
  • Thornbrough Award of the Indiana Historical Society, Best Article in the Indiana Magazine of History, for "Action, Agency, Affect: Thomas Hart Benton's Hoosier History," 105, no. 2 (June 2009): 127-139.
  • 98th Distinguished Research Lectureship Award, Council on Research and Creative Work, Graduate School, University of Colorado (2005)

Recent Fellowships

  • Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center Fellowship, Santa Fe (Spring 2011)
  •  Lee G. Hall Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art, DePauw University (Spring 2007)
  •  Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies, University of Southern Denmark (2005-2006)











“With its contemporary focus and astonishingly wide range of examples, Erika Doss’s Memorial Mania…considers not simply how commemorative practices reflect the feelings of Americans, but also how commemoration has become a crucial medium through which public feeling is structured, expressed, and archived. . . . What makes Doss’s book so valuable is that it reveals the range, complexity, and depth of emotion produced by memorial acts.” -- American Quarterly

“Prodigiously researched, generously illustrated. . . . Readers will come away having learned a good deal about contemporary commemoration and possessing a new awareness of the value and interest of the study of public affect.” -- Journal of American History

“Memorial Mania is an important and much-needed book, one that complements the existing literature on memorials with richness and originality, and also forges new territory. Doss’s excellent and highly polemical critique of its resurgence furthers one of American studies’ most noteworthy traditions.” -- Michele Bogart, Stony Brook University










"Smart, imaginative and readable."--Patricia Hills, Boston University

"Up-to-date overview that includes the often-excluded women and Black artists of the first half of the 20th century. Useful contextualizations of the period, especially in regard to marginalized artists."--Leslie Ava Shaw, New School University
















"A fascinating account of the re-creation of Elvis, before and after his death, into a multifaceted icon for his thousands of adoring fans. Doss has delved deep into the meaning of Elvis and come up with fresh new insights into American dreams and desires. A great read!"--Elaine Tyler May, author of Homeward Bound

"As fine a study of fandom as any I've seen, Elvis Culture offers a lively account of why and how Elvis is still everywhere-as patron saint and as passion, workingman and wigger, commodity and goof. A thoroughly knowledgeable and deeply sympathetic book."--Eric Lott, author of Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class

"One of the best books on Elvis that I've ever read. A stellar piece of cultural criticism, Elvis Culture is not only a very smart book, it's an exceptionally readable one as well: a difficult feat that Doss pulls off with style and wit."--Gilbert B. Rodman, author of Elvis after Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend