Skip to content Skip to navigation

NANS History

For current information, please visit

Initial steps in the formation of the North American Nietzsche Society were taken in 1979. Professors Bernd Magnus and Walter Kaufmann joined forces to promote the formation of a scholarly society to support Nietzsche studies.


Walter KaufmanWalter Kaufmann

That year there were two organizational meetings—one at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association (APA) held at San Diego, California, on March 23-25, 1979 and another at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Division of the APA held in New York, New York, on December 27-30, 1979. What would become the North American Nietzsche Society (NANS) was then simply called "The Nietzsche Society." Also among the lead organizers were Hans Seigfried (Pacific and Eastern), Lawrence Hinman (Pacific), and John T. Wilcox (Eastern). The nascent “Nietzsche Society” held an event in conjunction with the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy in November 1979.


At the 54th Annual Meeting of the APA Pacific Division the following year (March 27-29 1980 in San Francisco), "The Nietzsche Society" organized an event, chaired by Harold Alderman. The speaker was Walter Kaufmann, who presented his paper "Nietzsche's Philosophy of Masks.” Bernd Magnus served as the commentator.


Bernd MagnusBernd Magnus

An invitation to join NANS appeared in the 9th volume (1980) of Nietzsche-Studien. The organizing committee consisted of Ernst Behler, Daniel Breazeale, Peter Heller, Walter Kaufmann, Frederick Love, Bernd Magnus, James C O’Flaherty, Richard Schacht, Ivan Soll, and John T. Wilcox.


That same year at the 78th Annual APA Western Division meeting held on April 26 at Detroit, Michigan, "The Nietzsche Society" had another meeting chaired by Charles S. Taylor. At that session, papers were presented by Ofelia M. Schutte (“Nietzsche and the Question of Truth”) and John E. Atwell (“Nietzsche’s Perspectivism”). Richard Velkley acted as commentator.

Work was also done during this time to arrange special sessions on Nietzsche at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America. These initial meetings laid the foundation for the first official meeting of the newly christened North American Nietzsche Society, which was held at the December 1980 meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Boston, Massachusetts. The proceedings were dedicated to Walter Kaufmann who had passed away on September 4, 1980.

Three papers were presented:

      “Nietzsche, The Philosopher of Art” by Erich Heller (Northwestern University)

           Acting Chair: Bernd Magnus

           Commentator: Joan Stambaugh (Hunter College)

      “Nietzsche’s Doctrine of Will to Power” by Maudemarie Clark (Columbia University)

           Acting Chair: Richard Schacht (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

           Commentator: John T. Wilcox (State University of New York at Binghamton) 

      “Knowledge and Perspectivism in Nietzsche” by Alexander Nehamas (University of Pittsburgh)

           Acting Chair: Hans Seigfried (Loyola University Chicago)

           Commentator: Tracy B. Strong (University of California, San Diego)

These proceedings from the December 1980 NANS meeting at the APA were published together with the proceedings from a December 1980 MLA session in volume 12 of Nietzsche-Studien (de Gruyter, 1983).

Joan Stambaugh was the Society’s first chair of the Program Committee, beginning in 1981. She was aided that first year by the program committee of Ernst Behler, Richard Schacht, Tracy Strong, and Bernd Magnus (ex officio). The committee in 1982 was Harold Alderman, Richard Schacht, Ivan Soll, Tracy B. Strong and John T. Wilcox. The committee for the society’s third year was much the same, except that Tracy Strong was replaced by David C. Hoy. Stambaugh was succeeded by Richard Schacht as chair of the Program Committee in 1984, and Schacht’s place on the committee was filled by David B. Allison.

Already in this early period, NANS worked to secure publication for its proceedings, and after the initial meetings were published in the 1983 Nietzsche-Studien volume devoted to the memory of Walter Kaufmann, the society secured an arrangement with International Studies in Philosophy to publish the proceedings of the society in a special issue each year.  The initial issues were edited by Bernd Magnus, and in later years, a number of different members of the program committee, including Alan Schrift, Rex Welshon, and others, took on the editorial responsibilities.  This publication arrangement continued from 1983 to 2007, resulting in twenty-five special NANS issues of ISP, carrying through NANS presentations in the 2005-2006 academic year.

After its early years, the Society’s program committee pursued a strategy of organizing group meeting sessions at each of the three national meetings of the APA (Eastern, Central, and Pacific) as its primary vehicle for supporting Nietzsche scholarship. Sessions were organized for almost all of these meetings, and some meetings saw two or more NANS special sessions. The papers presented reflected work from a wide variety of North American and international scholars representing the full range of career stages and approaches to Nietzsche. Several sessions were devoted to retrospective assessment of highly significant moments in the recent development of Nietzsche studies in North America. For example, NANS sponsored sessions on the 30th anniversary of Arthur Danto’s Nietzsche as Philosopher, on the 25th anniversary of Alexander Nehamas’s Nietzsche: Life as Literature, and on the 30th anniversary of Richard Schacht’s Nietzsche, as well as a memorial session to look back over the life and work of Robert Solomon following his untimely death in 2007. A list of the participants and papers from these APA sessions (still under construction for the period of the 1990s) is available elsewhere on this site.

After the 2005-2006 academic year, NANS ended its publication relationship with International Studies in Philosophy (ISP) and forged a new publication agreement with the Journal of Nietzsche Studies, under the editorial leadership of Christa Acampora. Jessica Berry assumed the role for editing the special NANS issues of the JNS, and the great energy, judgment, and effectiveness she brought to the task, together with close cooperation with Acampora, has resulted in the appearance of seven recent JNS issues, featuring content from NANS proceedings. (These issues begin with Spring 2012; JNS 43:1.)  Berry’s and Acampora’s efforts cleared a significant backlog from the time of the ISP arrangement and, more importantly, brought a number of excellent Nietzsche papers into print.


Richard Schacht



During the course of the 1980s, Richard Schacht assumed an increasingly important role in the organization of the Society, eventually coming on board as its standing Executive Director. In that capacity, Schacht worked to maintain a broad-based society open to a wide range of work on Nietzsche from both North American and international scholars. Schacht deserves a large share of the credit for the survival and growth of NANS through the 1980s and 90s into the twenty-first century.


In 2014, Schacht announced to the program committee that the time had come for him to step down as Executive Director.  During the calendar year 2015, Schacht served a last year as co-Director with R. Lanier Anderson, and beginning in 2016 Anderson will take over as sole Executive Director of NANS.  








For current information, please visit