Barbara Ann Naddeo, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Masters Degree Program in History at the City College of New York and The Graduate Center, for her book, Vico and Naples – The Urban Origins of Modern Social Theory, published by Cornell University Press, 2011. Vico and Naples is an intellectual portrait of the Neapolitan philosopher Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) that reveals the politics and motivations of one of Europe’s first scientists of society. The book, unlike virtually all other works, concentrates not just on speculation about his formal ideas but on the cultural context, showing that his book, New Science, moves beyond his earliest work by establishing that his social theories “constitute a discrete field of knowledge” that expands the western intellectual tradition.
Barzun Prize Recipients
Peter Gordon, Harvard College Professor, the Amabel B. James Professor of History, and co-founder and co-chair of the Harvard Colloquium for Intellectual History at Harvard University, in recognition of his book Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos, published by the Harvard University Press. Dr. Gordon's book is a study of the famous 1929 public debate between two major philosophers of the past century – Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger – that took place in Davos, Switzerland. The book is a continuation of Dr. Gordon's interest in Heidegger and the various strains of phenomenology in modern German and French thought, focusing on this particular event due to its allegorical significance as a perceived rupture in 20th century Continental thought.
Daniel Hobbins, Associate Professor at the Ohio State University, in recognition of his book Authorship and Publicity before Print: Jean Gerson and the Transformation of Late Medieval Learning, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. The book takes a look at one of the most powerful theologians of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: Jean Gerson. Gerson, who lived from 1363 to 1429, was an impressive player in Western Europe during a time of war, plague, and schism. In the book, Dr. Hobbins argues for a new understanding of Gerson as a scholar taking advantage of this period of rapid expansion in written culture. Gerson contrasts with earlier theologians due to his more humanist approach to reading and authorship; indeed, his attempts to reach a broader public with publications in both Latin and French garnered him an international audience.
Dianne Sachko Macleod, Professor Emerita of 19th-Century, Modern & Gender Studies at the University of California, Davis, in recognition of her book Enchanted Lives, Enchanted Objects: American Women Collectors and the Making of Culture, 1800-1940 published by University of California Press. The book is a scholarly and beautifully illustrated study of 19th-century wealthy American women collectors and their role in shaping the cultural taste of their age and afterwards in painting and the fine arts, with full emphasis on their post-Bellum political involvements, the "gendering" of the modern museum, and the strategies of hiding and later exhibiting their acquisitions.
Thomas E. Burman, Lindsay Young Associate Professor and Head of the Department of History at the University of Tennessee, in recognition of his book Reading the Qur'an in Latin Christendom, 1140-1560 published by University of Pennsylvania Press. A learned and revisionist study of the knowledge of the Qur’an in the West in the later Middle Ages, Professor Burman’s book presents a hands-on picture of how Europeans read the sacred text of Islam. Through examinations of the Latin translations in early printed books, Burman finds that scholars of the period were immersed in a wide range of grammatical, lexical and interpretive problems presented by the text. He considers these subjects in the historical and comparative context of Christian-Muslim relations and cultures and modern Qur’anic scholarship. In so doing, he has broadened the way that medieval and Renaissance history of Muslim-Christian relations is understood.
Fritz Stern, University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, in recognition of his book Five Germanys I Have Known, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. “We all seek traces of a tangible past,” Fritz Stern writes in Five Germanys I Have Known, “and we try to fill them with life.” This sentence describes the aspirations both of personal memory and of professional history, and in this incomparable book Stern brings them magisterially together. Because he is such a gifted and disciplined historian, his very memories acquire the quality of evidence, carefully weighed and sifted, never over-interpreted. And because the central thread of memories in the book is his own – from the destruction of the world of European Jewry to the reunification of Germany – history here takes on a discreetly compelling personal accent. When Stern tells us that “the German roads to perdition...were neither accidental nor inevitable,” and that he finally feels, returning as an honored son to his German birthplace now become a part of Poland, that he has been given back a part of his past, we know we are reading not only an elegant memoir and not only a distinguished work of history, but a unique evocation of a haunted and haunting culture, an intimate analysis of that enduring Germany that has so altered our world.
Jacob Soll, associate professor of history at Rutgers University, in recognition of his book Publishing The Prince: History, Reading, and the Birth of Political Criticism, University of Michigan Press. Jacob Soll follows the typographical fortunes and receptions of the French translation of Machiavelli's Prince and its various and changing meanings into the Enlightenment. In the course of his researches, especially on erudite textual criticism, he makes valuable contributions both to the history of reading as a social and political practice and as a modern medium of subversive as well as absolutist political thought.
Bart Schultz, Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, in recognition of his book Henry Sidgwick - The Eye of the Universe: An Intellectual Biography, Cambridge University Press.
This book is a comprehensive study of the great Victorian moral philosopher, author of Methods of Ethics, and influential writer on many subjects (including religion, politics, education, psychology, and parapsychology), placed in his social circle and in the culture of pre-Bloomsbury England.
Stéphane Gerson, assistant professor of French at the Institute of French Studies, New York University, in recognition of his book The Pride of Place: Local Memories and Political Culture in Nineteenth-Century France, Cornell University Press.
Working below the level of national "unity," Stéphane Gerson explores regional and village space and time in terms of local culture, employing historiography, archeology, cults, archives, monuments, museums, monographs, learned societies, popular celebrations, pageants, commemorations, committees, and other vehicles of social memory to open another and decentralized dimension of French identity and to recall multiple local pasts into modern national consciousness.
Robert E. Norton, professor and chair of German and Russian Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame, in recognition of his book Secret Germany: Stefan George and His Circle, Cornell University Press.
This book is a comprehensive and original study of the most influential, perhaps greatest, and in recent times most unappreciated poet of twentieth-century Germany. George was an ambivalent prophet and symbol of the true, "secret," and "sacred" Germany underlying modern bourgeois corruption. He "loved art as power," and he aspired indeed to turn poetry into reality in his imagined domain. He was a major presence as an author but even more as an arachnoid "master" and Führer of many poets, philosophers, artists, and historians of the Weimar Republic and, though his hubris kept him from participating in fascist politics before his death in 1933, as a cultural harbinger of the Third Reich.