Renowned historians to present 'Jefferson: Then and Now' Oct. 15 at Carleton

October 9, 2019
By Kou Okada '22

Two renowned historians—Annete Gordon-Reed, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, and Peter S. Onuf, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor Emeritus in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia—will co-present the 2019 Fall Herber P. Lefler Lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Carleton College. In their talk, entitled, “Jefferson: Then and Now,” Gordon-Reed and Onuf will discuss Thomas Jefferson's changing image among scholars and the general public, and what it tells us about our times and his.

The lecture begins at 5 p.m. in the Weitz Center for Creativity Cinema.

Together, Gordon-Reed and Onuf recently published ‘“Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination,’ a provocative and absorbing character study of Jefferson. “A fresh and layered analysis” (New York Times Book Review) that reveals our third president as “a dynamic, complex and oftentimes contradictory human being,” (Chicago Tribune) Gordon-Reed and Onuf fundamentally challenge much of what we thought we knew about Jefferson.

Gordon-Reed, in addition to her role at Harvard Law School, is the professor of history in the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard University, and formerly the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at Queen’s College, University of Oxford (2014-15). A renowned law professor and scholar of American history, she has taught at the New York Law School and at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

She has published six books, among them, “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” which won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award for nonfiction. Gordon-Reed is also the author of “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy,” which examines the scholarly writing on the relationships between Jefferson and Hemings. This book was a nonfiction finalist in the First Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Her next book, “A Jefferson Reader on Race,” is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.

Onuf’s fields of interest include the American Revolution and the early American republic. He also wrote “The Mind of Thomas Jefferson” (with Nicholas G. Onuf) and “Nations, Markets, and War: Modern History and the American Civil War,” as well as 10 additional books about Jeffersonian America and the Federal Republic. His current work is about Thomas Jefferson and the origins of American democracy.

This event is sponsored by the Department of History with support from the Herbert P. Lefler Lecture Series. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4217. The Weitz Center for Creativity is located at Third and College Streets in Northfield.