Director and Staff

Steven Nadler

Position title: IRH Director (2018--)


Phone: 608.262.8151, Room 215

Vilas Research Professor and William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy, UW–Madison

Steven Nadler has been teaching at UW-Madison since 1988. He has been a Senior Fellow at the IRH (2013-2017), and twice a Resident Fellow. He was the founding director of the Center for the Humanities and has served as director of the Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies and chair of the Department of Philosophy. He has held visiting appointments at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Amsterdam, the École Pratique des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), and the École Normal Supérieure (Paris), and was a Scholar-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome. His main area of research is early modern philosophy, especially the seventeenth century.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, his books include Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die (Princeton University Press, 2013); Menasseh ben Israel: Rabbi of Amsterdam (Yale University Press, “Jewish Lives” series, 2018); The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes (Princeton University Press, 2013); A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (Princeton University Press, 2011); Occasionalism: Causation Among the Cartesians (Oxford University Press, 2010); The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008; pb Princeton University Press, 2010); Spinoza’s Ethics: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2006); Rembrandt’s Jews (University of Chicago Press, 2003); Spinoza’s Heresy: Immortality and the Jewish Mind (Oxford University Press, 2002); Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge University Press, 1999; second edition, 2018); Malebranche and Ideas (Oxford University Press, 1992); and Arnauld and the Cartesian Philosophy of Ideas (Princeton University Press, 1989). With Ben Nadler, he also produced the graphic book Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy (Princeton, 2017). From 1995-2000, he was the North American editor of the Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie; and from 2009-2015 the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. In 2020, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Katie Elizabeth Apsey

Position title: Associate Director (2021--)


Phone: 608.262.3855, Room 221

Katie (she/her/hers) covers the administrative and program management needs of the Institute for Research in the Humanities (IRH) and serves as assistant to the IRH Director. She received her PhD in Art History from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and holds a Master’s degree in First Nations/Indigenous Art History from Concordia University in Montréal. Her academic research focuses on contemporary Native and Indigenous art, dance history, transdisciplinary performance, and anticolonial museum methodologies. Katie has held positions as Programs and Operations Assistant for the Center for Design and Material Culture in the School of Human Ecology, Project Assistant for IRH, and as Manager of Programs for the College Art Association in New York. She comes to IRH from the museum world, having spent extensive time working at the Brooklyn Museum as a curatorial assistant for the Asian, African, Oceanic & Islamic Art Collections Division, an adult programs education fellow, and part of the team that developed the museum’s award-winning “ASK” app. Her public humanities training includes internships, research fellowships, and workshops at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Peabody Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology at Harvard University, The Newberry Library, The Center for Curatorial Leadership, The Heritage Center at Wazí Aháŋhaŋ Oyáŋke, and the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. Katie is also a practicing dancer and capoeirista, so appreciates any invitation to a roda.

Elizabeth Ann Neary

Position title: Project Assistant (2020--)


Phone: 608.262.3855, Room 216

Elizabeth is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at UW–Madison. She specializes in cultural exchanges between Christians and Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula during the 16th and 17th centuries. Her dissertation is titled Significant Others Mixed Marriage in Early Modern Spanish Literature. She earned an M.A. from Middlebury College and a B.A. from Muhlenberg College.