University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Department of Anthropology

FB twitter

Jane Desmond

Professor of Anthropology, Gender and Women's Studies, and Center for Global Studies

User Photo


Office Hours

  • T 1:30-4:30 and by appt.



Jane Desmond is a Professor in Anthropology and Gender and Women's Studies, and Co-founder and current Director of the International Forum for U.S. Studies, a center in International Programs. Her primary areas of interest focus of issues of embodiment, display, and social identity, as well as the transnational dimensions of U.S. Studies. Her areas of expertise include performance studies, critical theory, visual culture (including museum studies and tourism studies), the critical analysis of the U.S. in global perspectives, and, most recently, the political economy of human/animal relations. She has previously worked as a modern dancer and choreographer, and in film, video, and the academy.


  • 1993: Ph.D., Yale University, American Studies
  • 1991, M.Phil., Yale University, American Studies
  • 1973: B.A., Brown University, Music and Dance
  • 1975: M.F.A., Sarah Lawrence College

Distinctions / Awards

  • 2007-2011 President, International American Studies Association
  • 2009-2010 Humanities Research Institute Faculty Scholar at UIUC
  • 2010-2011 Appointment as annual Faculty Associate-in-Residence: UIUC Center for Advanced Studies, leading the initiative: “Knowing Animals: Histories, Strategies and Futures in Human-Animal Relations”
  • “Eminent World Scholar” appointment, one month residency, Beijing Foreign Studies University, May, 2009, American Studies Program


  • Hewlitt Foundation
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Rockefeller Foundation


  • Museums and the Politics of Representation
  • Senior Seminar in Gender and Women's Studies
  • Dance in America
  • Performing America Queerly
  • The Arts in American Culture
  • Gender on Stage and Off
  • The Culture of Nature
  • Graduate Courses
  • Performance Studies
  • The Craft of Research
  • The Arts, Identity and Cultural Politics
  • Theory and Practice in American Studies
  • Crossing Borders: Foreign Scholarship on the U.S.
  • Knowing Animals: Histories, Strategies and Frontiers in Human/Animal Relations



  • Desmond, Jane C. Displaying Death/Animating Life: Embodyng Trans-species Relations between Animals and Humans. University of Chicago Press (Under Contract), 2011.
  • Desmond, Jane C. Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Book Contributions

  • Desmond, Jane C. "Can Animals Make Art?: Popular and Scientific Discourses About Expressivity and Cognition in Primates." Experiencing Animals: Encounters Between Animals and Human Minds. Ed. J. Smith and R. Mitchell. Columbia University Press, 2012.
  • Desmond, Jane C. "Animal Deaths and the Written Record of History: The Politics of Pet Obituaries." Making Animal Meaning. Michigan State University Press, 2012. 99-111.

Edited Books

  • Desmond, Jane C. Dancing Desires: Choreographing Sexuality on and off the Stage. Madison: University of Madison Wisconsin Press, 2001.
  • Desmond, Jane C. Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance. Duke University Press, 1997.

Journal Articles

  • Desmond, Jane C. "Ivy Halls and Ivy Walls: The Continuing Legacy of the Ivy League." American Studies of Korea, American Studies Institute, Seoul National University 34.1 (2011): 203-231.
  • Desmond, Jane C. "Towards a Prismatic 'American Studies." Safundi: Journal of South African and American Studies (2007):
  • Desmond, Jane C. "Transnational American Studies: Limits to Collaboration." American Studies International (2003):
  • Desmond, Jane C. "Mapping American Studies Across National Boundaries." Hungarian Journal of American Studies (2002):
  • Desmond, Jane C. "Picturing Hawai'i: The 'Ideal' Native and the Origins of Tourism (1880-1915).." Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 7.2 (1999):
  • Desmond, Jane, and Jane C. Desmond. "Towards a Political Economy of American Studies: Reports from an Experiment in Process." Through the Looking Glass: American Studies in Transcultural Perspective, European Contributions to American Studies 40 (1999):

Works in Progress