Annette Gordon-Reed, a Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning scholar, is a preeminent historian of early America, law, slavery, and the country’s third president. Join us for a conversation about Thomas Jefferson’s impact on our republic and the distance between his principles and lived reality. She will be joined by Brown University Assistant Professor Emily Owens.
Sponsored by Chas A. Miller III & Birch Coffey/Lois H. and Charles A. Miller Foundation
Annette Gordon-Reed’s most recent book, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination is available for purchase through the Brown Bookstore, along with other titles featured this season.
--Annette Gordon-Reed is a Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School. She is the award-winning author of six books, including The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award for nonfiction—and fourteen other awards. It explores the inconsistencies of Jefferson's stance on slavery and his relationship with enslaved woman Sally Hemings, and has been called "the best study of a slave family ever written" by noted Jefferson scholar Joseph Ellis.
Gordon-Reed is also the author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy. It offers a rich examination of scholarly writing on the relationships between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and exposes the possibility that scholars were misguided by their own biases and may even have contorted evidence to preserve their preexisting opinions of Jefferson. Her most recent book (with Peter S. Onuf) is “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination, presents a provocative character study of Jefferson, that challenges much of the scholarly status quo on his portrayal throughout history. Gordon-Reed’s upcoming title, A Jefferson Reader on Race, is set to be published in early 2020.
Emily A. Owens is the David and Michelle Ebersman Assistant Professor of History at Brown University, and works on histories of race, gender and sexuality. Her first book, The Fantasy of Consent: Sex, Affect, and Commerce in 19th Century New Orleans surfaces the survival strategies of women of color whose lives were bound by sexual labor under slavery, and is forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press. Her work has appeared in Louisiana History, Feminist Formations, The Black Scholar, differences and Signs: Journal of Women, Culture and Society. In addition to her appointment in History, Owens also acts as a faculty fellow at the Brown Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.
Her honors include the National Humanities Medal (awarded by President Barack Obama), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Gordon-Reed was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2019, she was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society.