International Scholars

The Department of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison encourages interdisciplinary and intercultural collaborations with scholars throughout the U.S. and the world.

Yujie Cao is a Ph.D. Candidate at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS) majoring in African American literature. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Department of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working on her doctoral dissertation, “The Evolution and Redemption of Evil in Gloria Naylor’s Heterotopic Quintet”. She will be speaking on a panel titled “Black Women’s Narratives of Struggle, Resistance, Change” alongside Professor Sandra Adell and Gnae Thompson in the 2024 Spring WGSC Conference.

Her recently published article is “Representations of African Culture in Gurnah’s paradise from the Perspective of Ambiguity” in the Journal of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (2023). After work, she likes playing badminton to refresh herself and phone photography to seize each momentto make a beautiful memory in life.

Information and Application Procedures for International Visiting Scholars

Because of the many requests we receive each year from international scholars seeking visiting scholar status, we have instituted an application process which we have summarized as follows:

The Application:

  1. Current curriculum vitae. Applicants should have a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree and be fluent in spoken and written English.
  2. Research Proposal. Applicants must submit a proposal detailing the research they will conduct during their appointment as a visiting scholar. The proposal must also include your specific reasons for choosing the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Department of African American Studies.
  3. Proposed dates of your stay. The academic year consists of two semesters: fall and spring. The fall semester is from the end of August to mid-December. The spring semester begins in mid-January and ends in May. The department will allow a maximum visit of nine months.
  4. Sources of funding. Neither the Department of African American Studies nor the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers financial support of any kind to International Visiting Scholars. Before the department can send you a letter of invitation as a visiting scholar, the university requires financial documentation proving that you have sufficient funds to cover your stay. Information on visa and funding requirements for international scholars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison can be found at this website: It is very important to indicate in your letter of interest if you are applying for a Fulbright or other kind of fellowship. Information about Fulbright Fellowships for non-U.S. scholars is available at


A letter of interest and your application should be sent to the department chair, who will forward it to the faculty. The faculty will consider your request at the next regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The department does not hold faculty meetings during the summer. Applications received between May 29-August 26 will be considered during the first fall faculty meeting, which is held in September. If a majority of the faculty approves, and you have fulfilled all of the requirements above, your request will be submitted to the Dean of the College of Letters and Sciences who will authorize our sending you a formal letter of invitation offering you an honorary zero-percent appointment.

As a visiting international scholar, you will have access to the University’s libraries and the department’s reference library and media resources. Shared office space and a computer will be provided if available. We cannot provide administrative assistance for xeroxing of materials, manuscript editing or related research activities.

Our administrative staff also is unable to assist you with housing. Information about housing is available at The campus housing staff will assist you in finding a place to live. Keep in mind that housing in Madison is expensive. A small studio apartment within the campus area will cost between $600-800 per month. A good resource for off-campus housing is the Madison Friends of International Students.

We encourage our visiting scholars to participate in the department’s activities, including lectures, gatherings and in the intellectual life of the University community. Visiting scholars may also sit in on classes in the department with permission from the faculty member teaching them.

Since we can only accommodate a few visiting scholars each year, we are very selective. Priority will be given to those applicants whose research proposals are well conceived, demonstrate fluency in written English and are compatible with our areas of expertise and inter-disciplinary frameworks.

Previous International Scholars in the Department of African American Studies

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Dr. Sarada Thallam | 2012 Nehru-Fulbright Senior Research Scholar

In 2012, the Department of African American Studies hosted Dr. Sarada Thallam, a Nehru-Fulbright Senior Research Scholar. Dr. Thallam is an associate professor in the Department of English at Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India.

A specialist in the drama of Adrienne Kennedy, Dr Thallam’s project, for which she was awarded a Nehru-FulbrightFellowship, was “Performing in the Margins: A Study of Early African AmericanWomen’s Drama.” She is one of only a few literary scholars throughout India who specializes in African American Women’s Theater. Contact her at:

Sarada Sm

Isaac Akomolafe | 2013 Scholar

Professor Emeritus Freida H.W. Tesfagiorgis sponsored Visiting Scholar, Isaac Akomolafe, a Nigerian artist specializing in glass work in 2013. Akomolafe is pictured below with his wife, Alice Akomolafe, a librarian.

High Akomolafe