Barbara Jelavich Book Prize

2008 Citation Recipient

Deborah R. Coen

TheĀ Barbara Jelavich Book Prize, established in 1995 and sponsored by the Jelavich estate, is awarded annually for a distinguished monograph published on any aspect of Southeast European or Habsburg Studies since 1600, or nineteenth and twentieth- century Ottoman or Russian diplomatic history in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Deborah R. Coen
Title: Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty: Science, Liberalism, and Private Life (University of Chicago Press)

In this fresh and finely focused study, Deborah R. Coen revisits the ever-fertile ground of intellectual life in Vienna and Austria at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. By choosing a family, the extraordinary Exners, rather than an individual, school, or movement, she is able to reveal the important of milieu, climate, and generation to the development of the social and physical sciences. By choosing a family of scientists, she is able to introduce into debates about Vienna and the special Viennese fin-de-siecle accomplishments, conceptions, and methodologies that historians have tended to neglect. By choosing a family of influential scientists, she ensures that the implications of her study concern not only a particular group of people, but rather the thinkers and institutions of the period that we thought we had already come to understand. In particular, she is able to argue, that neither commitment to aesthetic ideals nor scientific progress required faith or belief in certainty, that uncertainty itself could be an energizing rather than an enervating condition. In recognition of her enticing, persuasive, and beautifully written revision of a crucial moment in the history of ideas, science, family, and society in the Habsburg monarchy, we award Deborah R. Coen the 2008 Jelavich Book Prize.