Steven Nadler appointed new IRH director

December 18th 2017 | L&S News
Arts & Humanities, Faculty
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Steven Nadler has been appointed Director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities. Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy, the Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities and Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies.

Since its founding in 1959, the IRH has cultivated a stimulating intellectual community that fosters world-class scholarship in the humanities. It presently is home to 53 faculty fellows from UW-Madison, the UW System and other colleges and universities in the United States and abroad, as well as graduate student and postdoctoral fellows.

“The IRH director is an important campus leader and advocate for the humanities and I am very pleased that Steven Nadler will be the next person to further enhance the IRH’s distinguished history,” says Karl Scholz, dean of the College of Letters & Science, home of the IRH.

“I am extremely honored and grateful to have been awarded this position,” Nadler says. “The opportunity to lead an internationally renowned institute that provides scholars the time, community and resources to do their best work is a rare thing. I hope to live up to the standards of excellence set by previous directors.”

Nadler is a multi-disciplinary scholar whose research traverses early modern philosophy, medieval Jewish philosophy, early modern Jewish history and art history. He has written extensively on Descartes and Cartesianism, Spinoza, Leibniz, Maimonides and other figures.

He is the author of 11 books, including Spinoza: A Life, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award; The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and EvilThe Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy: From Antiquity through the Seventeenth Century; A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular AgeThe Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes; and Rembrandt’s Jews, which was named a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. 

Most recently he published a graphic book illustrated by his son, Ben Nadler, entitled Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy. His next book, Menasseh ben Israel: Rabbi of Amsterdam, will appear in Yale's “Jewish Lives” series in 2018. Nadler has held visiting professorships at the University of Amsterdam, the École Normale Supérieure (Paris), the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris), Stanford University and the University of Chicago, and has been Scholar in Residence at the American Academy in Rome. He brings to the position considerable administrative experience, having served as chair of the Philosophy department, founding director of the Center for the Humanities and director of the Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies.