Overview of IFUSS

The study of the U.S. takes place among scholars in many parts of the globe, but most living and working in the U.S. are unfamiliar with this work by their foreign colleagues. IFUSS works to internationalize the practice of “American Studies” in the U.S. by placing foreign and domestic scholars in dialogue. Simultaneously, it fosters scholarly relations across multiple national boundaries and regions outside the U.S. by bringing scholars from all parts of the globe together for shared research residencies and conferences. It is our belief that these multiple angles of vision, forged in the academic traditions and national contexts of each participant’s scholarly community, will yield a more complex understanding of the many facets of the U.S. than is otherwise possible.

To achieve these goals, IFUSS sponsors research residencies, faculty seminar, colloquium series, international conferences and institutional linkages, and guest teaching opportunities for distinguished scholars from outside the United States.

Founded in 1995 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, IFUSS was originally located at the University of Iowa at Iowa City. In July 2007, IFUSS Co-founders Jane Desmond and Virginia Dominguez moved from the University of Iowa to their new institutional home at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). At that time, IFUSS was re-located to its current home at where Jane Desmond serves as Director and Virginia Dominguez serves as Consulting Director.

Since the founding in 1995, IFUSS have developed a worldwide network of former fellows, colleagues, collaborators, guests, and affiliates. IFUSS works to nourish these networks, developing symbiotic relations with other centers around the word, and enhancing transnational scholarly knowledge about the U.S. as a geopolitical entity, a cultural imaginary, and an ever-shifting site of multiple populations and affiliations embedded in global networks

Research Residencies

The appointment of Fellows for Research Residencies lies at the heart of IFUSS’s activities. Through a combination of open global competitions and direct invitations, IFUSS hosts exceptional scholars from outside the U.S. for residencies lasting from two weeks to one year. While in residence, Fellows pursue their own research with access to excellent library facilities. They also lead colloquia, participate in faculty seminars and sometimes offer a course in their specialty area.

With applicants from more than 60 countries, the range of scholarship represented is truly diverse in terms of topic and methodology. Fellows from Nigeria, Italy, Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Israel, India, Great Britain, South Africa, Argentina, Spain, Sri Lanka, China, and Hungary are among those who have participated so far. Their research has focused on topics as diverse as Jewish writers of the 1930s, Gay life in New York City, the urban geography of Chicago, American female missionaries in Japan, the “English-Only” movement in the U.S., and many other issues in U.S. history, literature, political science, social anthropology, media studies, and visual culture.

Fellows are expected to remain in residence for the duration of their fellowship and to devote their energies full-time to the projects they are involved in.

Institutional Linkages

IFUSS maintains ongoing linkages with institutions outside the United States, where work on U.S. culture and politics is flourishing. IFUSS strives to facilitate ongoing relationships among past and present Fellows from different parts of the world so that transnational and transregional dialogues can continue after the residency periods, based on a network of IFUSS alumni and .

Institutional Conferences

With support from non-profit foundations and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IFUSS hosts international conferences that bring past and present Fellows together with U.S.-based scholars for intensive debate and dialogue focusing on the global dimensions, conditions, and practices of U.S. Studies.


Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has earned a reputation as a world-class leader in research, teaching, and public engagement.

Ranked as one of the top public research institutions in the nation, UIUC posses academic resources on campus that are among the finest in the world. The University Library is the largest public university collection in the world, housing 22 million items in the main library and in the more than 40 departmental libraries and units. The campus is also home to the nation’s fastest supercomputer. Facilities for research are outstanding.

Situated about 140 miles south of Chicago, which is easily accessible by train, the campus straddles the border between the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. With a combined population of 105,000, Champaign-Urbana is large enough to support the cultural and entertainment opportunities usually associated with major metropolitan areas, yet small enough to maintain its identity as a welcoming, livable Midwestern community.

University and Community Outreach

Through lectures and programs open to the public, and courses for university students, IFUSS offers numerous opportunities for members of the university and local communities to come in contact with visiting scholars. In addition, Fellows often speak at roundtables in the community and participate in radio interviews. Graduate students participate in IFUSS as Program Assistants, specially selected Graduate Affiliates, and as participants in international research trips.

Future Projects

New initiatives include the future development of transnational collaborative research projects, course offerings, off-site multi-national research travel in teams composed of scholars from the U.S. and abroad, and a new book series.