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Nanovic Institute Awards $10,000 Book Prize

Author: Monica Caro

Nanovic Institute Shannon Prize logo

The University of Notre Dame’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies has awarded the $10,000 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies to author Roberto M. Dainotto for his book Europe (In Theory), published by Duke University Press (2007).

The Shannon Prize is presented annually 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, and rotates between the humanities and history and social sciences. This is the inaugural award for the humanities, which judged nominated books published in 2007 and 2008.

The jury commended Dainotto’s book, stating:

“Written by an academic but readable by all, Dainotto’s Europe (In Theory) incisively analyzes how important theories about Europe have long relied on the construction of an ‘Oriental other’ within Europe’s own borders. Showing how Europe’s southern territories were used in this way, Dainotto’s book transcends a focus on any one country and places Eurocentric ideology into serious question more generally.

“It contains original reworkings of genealogies such as those of European history and European literature, and first-class analyses of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Madame De Stael and Hegel. Thus, Europe (In Theory) presents an admirable synthesis of the critical and theoretical literature on the history of the idea or theory of Europe and offers a critical perspective on the question. Forceful, biting, compelling reading.”

The final jury was composed of Piero Boitani, professor of comparative literature, University of Rome, La Sapienza; Theodore J. Cachey, Jr., Albert J. Ravarino Family Director of Dante and Italian Studies, professor and chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Notre Dame; Donald Crafton, professor and chair, Department of Film, Television, & Theatre, Notre Dame; Margaret W. Ferguson, professor of English, University of California, Davis; and Christopher B. Fox, professor of English and director of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, Notre Dame.

Dainotto will accept the award and present a lecture on Sept. 23 at Notre Dame. Dainotto is professor of Romance studies and of the Literature Program at Duke University, where he has been teaching modern and contemporary Italian literature since 1998. His research focuses on the relationship between writing and places (real or imaginary). A native of Italy, Dainotto did his undergraduate work at the University of Catania. He completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in comparative literature at New York University.

The Shannon Prize jury also awarded honorable mention to B. Venkat Mani for his book Cosmopolitical Claims: Turkish-German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk, Iowa University Press (2007); and to Karen Newman for her book Cultural Capitals: Early Modern London and Paris, Princeton University Press (2007).

The Nanovic Institute is committed to enriching the intellectual culture of Notre Dame by creating an integrated, interdisciplinary home for students and faculty to explore the evolving ideas, cultures, beliefs and institutions that shape Europe today. Additional information about the Nanovic Institute, the Shannon Prize and the authors is available here.

Originally published at on February 15, 2010.