Nanovic Institute awards 2020 Laura Shannon Prize to Eleonory Gilburd

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies has awarded the 2020 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies to Eleonory Gilburd for her book To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture, published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

The $10,000 Laura Shannon Prize, one of the preeminent prizes for European studies, is awarded annually to 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. This year’s cycle of the award considered humanities books published in 2017 or 2018.

To See Paris and Die received high praise from the final jury:

“A masterly and engrossing performance, To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture reveals just how ambiguous the Soviet Russian relationship was with Western people and art. In her remarkable and stunningly comprehensive work of scholarship, Eleonory Gilburd has the pulse of the people at her fingertips as she deftly counterpoints the ‘thaw’ of the 1930s with those of the 1950s and ’60s.

From the long view of Soviet national politics in the international arena, Gilburd cuts to definable cultural sectors such as popular music and cinema, book publishing, and translation delivering the texture of experience during this period. Events such as foreign art exhibitions, book fairs, or the French and Italian film weeks allow Gilburd to track fashions and debates at the micro-level of individual responses, as well as through the usual introductions and pamphlets. Gilburd also offers a range of colorful vignettes of government disapproval, such as the story of Kruschev sleeping through much of a Fellini film at the Moscow Film Festival.

“Well-structured and jauntily written, To See Paris and Die succeeds because of its panoptic brio, audacious look at popular responses to cultural forms, accessible style, and a sustained sense that, within its pages, the destiny of Europe is at stake.”

Eleonory Gilburd is an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the history of modern Russia and the Soviet Union, with a particular interest in Soviet culture, society, and their international context. She will visit Notre Dame during the fall 2020 semester to accept the prize, deliver a public lecture, and meet with students and faculty.

For the first time, the final jury also awarded Laura Shannon Prize Silver Medals. One went to Thomas Crow, Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art and associate provost for the arts at New York University, for his book Restoration: The Fall of Napoleon in the Course of European Art, 1812-1820, published by Princeton University Press.

The second silver medal was awarded to Eric Calderwood, associate professor in the Program in Comparative and World Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for his book Colonial al-Andalus: Spain and the Making of Modern Moroccan Culture, published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

The jury for this year’s prize consisted of an accomplished group of scholars: Dudley Andrew, R. Selden Rose Professor of Film and Comparative Literature, Yale University; JoAnn DellaNeva, professor of Romance languages and literatures and academic director of Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway, University of Notre Dame; Lydia Goehr, professor of philosophy, Columbia University; Michael Jennings, Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages and professor of German, Princeton University; and Declan Kiberd, Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame.

 The Laura Shannon Prize is made possible through a generous endowment from Michael and Laura Shannon of Houston, Texas. Laura serves on the Nanovic Institute’s Advisory Board and Michael, a 1958 Notre Dame graduate, serves on Notre Dame’s Graduate Studies and Research Advisory Council.

The Laura Shannon Prize is now accepting history and social sciences nominations for its 2021 cycle. European studies books published in 2018 or 2019 are eligible for nomination, with nominations due January 31, 2020. 

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame 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. The Institute is an integral part of the Keough School of Global Affairs. For additional information about the Nanovic Institute and the Laura Shannon Prize, visit

Originally published at on January 15, 2020.

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