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The main mission of the Institute for Research in the Humanities is to foster research in the humanities by creating a stimulating, interdisciplinary community in which fellows can pursue their work, share it with other fellows and members of the campus, and benefit from intensive discussion with scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, fields, interests, and perspectives. We also promote greater understanding of the humanities on campus and build bridges between the humanities and the arts, social sciences, and sciences. Working closely with the Center for the Humanities and other campus centers and institutes, we encourage innovative, broad-ranging, and collaborative research in and thinking about the humanities for the twenty-first century.

University Club BuildingThe Institute is an intellectual community housed in the historic University Club Building at the foot of State Street and across from Memorial Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society. As part of a hub for humanities centers and institutes, the Institute has generous and newly renovated space for seminars, fellow offices, and a library. The College of Letters and Science sponsors the Institute and invests heavily in it as part of its commitment to the humanities. Some 40-45 fellows are associated with the Institute each academic year, with about 12-15 present during the summer. These include about 23 UW-Madison faculty and graduate students and some 18 external fellows from all over the world; 4-5 Solmsen Fellows; 1-2 Kingdon Fellows; 6 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows; 4 UW-System Fellows; a Madison College Fellow; and a variable number of Honorary Fellows who come with their own funding, often from abroad. The Institute is a member organization of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and serves as a potential residency site for ACLS Fellows as part of the CHCI partnership with the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

The Institute holds weekly seminars at which fellows present their work and engage in extensive dialogue about their projects with other fellows and with interested faculty and students from the campus community. The Institute also sponsors Burdick-Vary Symposia organized by Senior Fellows, a publication workshop, the Nellie Y. McKay Lecture, the Germaine Brée Lecture, panel discussions, and workshops. Informal brown-bag lunches provide extensive opportunities for stimulating and supportive conversation.

The Institute takes a leadership role on campus with other humanities departments, centers, and institutes to promote greater understanding of and visibility for the humanities and their importance as a mode of knowledge production and dissemination. We co-sponsor many events on campus and are affiliated with a number of other interdisciplinary initiatives such as the Center for Visual Cultures, Global Studies Program, World Literature/s Workshop, Human Rights Initiative, and WUN (Worldwide University Network).