Nanovic honors professor for research
Jack Rooney | Friday, February 21, 2014
The Nanovic Institute for European Studies and a panel of jurors featuring two Notre Dame professors awarded the annual $10,000 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies to Jerrold Seigel for his book “Modernity and Bourgeois Life: Society, Politics and Culture in England, France and Germany since 1750.”
Last Monday, the Nanovic Institute announced the winner of this fifth annual prize. Nanovic manager of operations Monica Caro said the award goes to “the author of the best book in European studies that transcends a focus on any one country, state or people to stimulate new ways of thinking about contemporary Europe as a whole.”
Peter Holland, an associate dean in the College of Arts and Letters and one of the jury members for the prize, said the young award has quickly gained prestige in the field of European Studies.
“Its reputation has grown very quickly indeed,” Holland said. “One of the ways that one can measure that, if you like, is that we ended up with a very distinguished international committee of jurors. The fact that people are willing to do it is a sign that they want to find a good and deserving winner for a major prize.”
A. James McAdams, director of the Nanovic Institute, said the prize is now the most prestigious of its kind.
“There is no doubt about it, we have created the leading book prize in European studies in the country,” McAdams said.
A press release on the Nanovic website said the jury also included Notre Dame professor emeritus Alasdair MacIntyre as well as professors from Yale, Stanford and the University of Amsterdam.
The jury praised Seigel’s book as an influential and significant work in the field of European Studies.
A statement from the jury said, “A work of erudite detail and stunning originality, Jerrold Seigel’s “Modernity and Bourgeois Life” offers a magisterial account of the development of networks in terms of economy, politics and aesthetic culture. Here is a work of scholarly synthesis and narrative power capable of informing many disciplines for decades to come.”
Caro said Seigel will travel to Notre Dame in the fall to accept the prize and give a lecture, which is a contractual requirement of the prize designed to benefit Notre Dame students.
“It is an integral, contractual part of the prize that [the winner] must come to campus,” Caro said. “Anything that the Nanovic Institute does, we always want to contact the students. So just having a book prize wouldn’t be the kind of [award] that the Nanovic Institute would do. We’re not just giving the book prize, they have to come to campus to lecture, and we also ensure that during that visit, they’re visiting classes or meeting with student groups.”
Caro said the prize further benefits students by providing them with free copies of the submissions.
“All of the books at the end of the process, we give to graduate students at an annual graduate student social … which is a nice perk for graduate students.” Caro said.
Caro said the prize accepts nominations from publishers and individual authors. The award alternates between books in the humanities and the social sciences, with Seigel’s work winning for the humanities.
Holland said Seigel’s book not only stands as an important scholarly work, but remains easy and enjoyable to read.
“It was a delight to read. I’m delighted that one of the qualities we were recognizing in this work that great scholars can write in an accessible and engaging way,” Holland said. “I think it’s one of those books that the curious phenomenon called the ‘general reader’ will actually enjoy. It’s on my list of books to give out at Christmas.”