The three-week institute Thomas Jefferson: Personality, Character and Public Life, offered by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will take place at Boston University from July 8 to 26, 2013. Speakers include R. B. Bernstein, Peter Hatch, Joanne Freeman, Jan Lewis, and Peter Onuf. The institute will seek to deepen our understanding of one of the most important figures in American history, a figure who is fascinating, influential, inspiring, and embattled.
Focusing on Jefferson’s personality and character and connecting them to his public career will be the theme of the first week, followed by an examination of his views on religion, his role as a family man, and his correspondence with John Adams. In the final week, the Institute turns to slavery, science, and money.
The application and further information (like the stipend for teachers is $2,700; itinerary and speaker bios) is at the institute’s website.
During the three weeks, participants will also ponder some larger questions:
- Is the intimate life knowable?
- Does it connect to the public man or woman?
- Do we each fashion our own version of Jefferson to reflect our values and needs?
- What is Jefferson’s legacy?
Discussion will include pedagogical questions:
- What role should biography and primary sources play in history instruction?
- How does teaching biographies fit with state standards and high stakes testing?
- How do we teach intimate information about famous Americans to young people?
- How can teachers be honest and realistic yet still inspire students and encourage citizenship?
Learn more by visiting thomasjeffersonpersonalitycharacterandpubliclife.org.