Skip to content Skip to navigation


The Institute runs a variety of programs as part of its mission to stimulate interdisciplinary and collaborative research in the humanities. We also frequently co-sponsor programs and events with the Center for the Humanities and with other humanities departments, centers, and programs on campus.


The Institute sponsors some 40-45 external and internal fellowships each year and welcomes fellows to extend their residency at the Institute during the summer. Internal competitions for stipendary fellowships in residence inlcude Senior Fellowships (8-9); Resident Fellowships (6); Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellowships (3); and Dissertation Fellowships (4-6). External fellowships include Solmsen Fellowships (4-5); Kingdon Fellowships (1-2); Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships (6); ACLS Residency Fellowships (1-3); UW-System Fellowships (4); Madison Area Technical College Fellowship (1); and Honorary Fellowships (variable). See Fellowships for application information.


The Institute fellows present their work in weekly seminars for IRH fellows and other interested faculty and students at UW-Madison during the academic year. Seminars take place every Monday afternoon from 3:00-5:00 p.m. and every Tuesday from 12:00-1:15 p.m. in room 212 of the University Club Building, 432 E. Campus Mall (use side entrances). Refreshments are served at 3:00 p.m. on Mondays, with presentations beginning at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday seminars take place over lunch (bring your own). Consult the calendar of events for specifics.

Faculty Development Seminars

The Institute sponsors two faculty development seminars each year in conjunction with the Center for the Humanities and major support from the College of Letters and Science. The seminars provide a formal setting for faculty that promotes sustained collaboration and dialogue across disciplinary lines on a specific topic of wide interest and importance in the humanities. The seminar meets for two hours in ten sessions during the semester. A faculty leader or a team of two faculty leaders propose a topic, assemble a syllabus of readings, and preside over discussions. Faculty leaders receive a course release for leading the seminar, and their department(s) receive funds to hire a replacement lecturer. Faculty participants receive a stipend for research expenses.

Application information for seminar leaders and participants

Conferences and Symposia

Each year, the Institute sponsors 1-2 Burdick-Vary Symposia organized by Senior Fellows on topics related to their research or on issues of broad significance to the humanities. The Institute also organizes conferences and symposia on topical issues in the humanities. Consult the Calendar for details on upcoming Burdick-Vary Symposia

Lecture Series

The Institute sponsors three lectures annually: the Germaine Brée Lecture in the Humanities, the Nellie Y. McKay Lecture, and the Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture. With the Center for the Humanities,the Institute also co-sponsors the Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Lecture Series. Near the end or after their terms, Senior Fellows give a Focus on the Humanities Distinguished Lecture hosted by the Institute. Consult the Calendar for details on upcoming lectures.

Panel Discussions on the Humanities

The Institute sponsors two or more panel discussions on the humanities each year. Panels focus on such general issues as the history and meaning of the humanities, language matters in the humanities, the methodologies of the humanities, as well as on specific themes of timely significance to the humanities. Panels typically take place at the beginning and end of the academic year and are designed to foster discussion about the humanities throughout the Institute seminars and across campus.

Publication Workshops

The Institute sponsors an annual lunch and panel discussion on publication. Panelists include representatives of university presses, faculty editors of book series, journal editors, and newly tenured associate professors. The workshop is open to faculty and graduate students on campus.

Conversations with Distinguished Lecturers

The Institute hosts lunches and informal conversations with distinguished lecturers brought to campus by the Center for the Humanities or by other departments, programs, and centers. Typically, the lecturer makes a brief statement about current or recently published work to initiate a general discussion. Fellows and interested faculty and students are invited to participate. See the Calendar for details.

World Literature/s Research Group

IRH serves as the institutional home for the World Literatures Research Group, which meets monthly in 212 University Club Building for presentations, guest lectures, and discussion of readings posted on their website.

Other Events

The Institute welcomes departments, centers, and programs in the humanities to organize events to be held in the Institute's seminar room (212 University Club Building) with the Institute's co-sponsorship. The Institute seminar and conference rooms (212, 211, 231) are available for other groups in the humanities to hold discussion, seminars, meetings, and other events. Room 212 is equipped with AV equipment available for use. Contact the director for sponsorship and Ann Harris for room reservations.

IRH Libraries

The Institute maintains a general library in room 231 University Club Building, and a library of current and past fellows' publications in room 211. The library collection in room 231 includes current magazines such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement; books based on Institute projects donated by former fellows; and books left to the Institute by former fellows (especially in Classics, Medieval Studies, and Early Modern Studies).