Barbara Ann Naddeo (Associate Professor, City, History) is the winner of the 2011 Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History for Vico and Naples: The Urban Origins of Modern Social Theory, published by Cornell University Press. A significant achievement for a historian, the prize has been awarded annually since 1993 by the American Philosophical Society (APS) to the author or authors whose book exhibits distinguished work in American or European cultural history. It honors the eminent historian and cultural critic Jacques Barzun, University Professor Emeritus of Columbia University and a member of APS since 1984.
The first learned society in the United States, APS—which is not to be confused with the American Philosophical Association, the professional body for academic philosophy—was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin and served as the prototype for later such organizations. Devoted to the promotion of useful knowledge in the humanities and sciences through excellence in scholarly research, APS includes as members men and women from throughout the world with varying interests and expertise. Past members include George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, James Madison, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Alexander von Humboldt, Louis Pasteur, John J. Audubon, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Marie Curie, and Margaret Mead.
Naddeo’s Vico and Naples provides 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, or philosophers of social justice. Rich with period detail and attentive to Vico’s historical, rhetorical, and jurisprudential texts, this work provides a compelling and vivid reconstruction of Vico’s life and times and of the origins of his powerful notion of the social. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that Vico was a solitary figure, Naddeo recovers a Vico who was keenly attuned to the social changes challenging the political culture and exclusions of his native city and shows that his experiences of civic crises shaped his inquiry into the development of human society and the rights of its members. In Naddeo’s pages, Vico comes alive as a prescient observer of Europe’s burgeoning metropolises and an advocate for new metropolitan groups.
Professor Naddeo was appointed in September to the Graduate Center’s doctoral program in history, where she teaches courses on early modern Europe and on urban history. In the Spring 2012 semester, prior to her full-time appointment, she taught a Graduate Center doctoral course on the early modern European city. The Barzun Prize in Cultural History for Vico and Naples will be bestowed publicly on Naddeo at the annual meeting of APS in November.