Peter Gibbon Hosts NEH Institute at Boston University

Peter Gibbon, Senior Research Fellow, will be hosting a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Institute at Boston University School of Education. The Institute, to be held July 7th to July 26th, 2013, will focus on Thomas Jefferson: Personality, Character, and Public Life. Gibbon has held 4 previous NEH Institutes at Boston University: two on George Washington and two also on Thomas Jefferson.

Institute participants will look at Jefferson from various perspectives to deepen their understanding of Jefferson’s character and personality. Institute leaders believe that such an understanding will help shed light on America’s founding and the social and cultural history of the early Republic. An NEH Institute excerpt describing Thomas Jefferson is below:

Thomas Jefferson was a man of paradoxes: a man who craved friendship, yet was intensely private; an aristocrat who detested privilege; an urban intellectual who feared cities; a slave holder who preached equality; a peaceful man who sanctioned violent rebellion; a dreamer and philosopher who served as a hard-nosed and cunning diplomat. In this three-week Institute, we will try to explain these paradoxes and deepen our understanding of one of the most important figures in American history, a figure who is fascinating, influential, inspiring, and embattled

The Institute will take a topical approach, looking in depth at such subjects as education, intimate life, family, money, religion, science, and slavery. Participants and institute leaders will discuss larger questions, such as those listed below:

  • 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?

Peter Gibbon, became interested in Thomas Jefferson while lecturing at schools around the country and researching his book, A Call to Heroism: Renewing America’s Vision of Greatness, which was published in 2002 (Atlantic Monthly Press). He has continued his research on Jefferson, as well as other founding fathers and historical figures, as a Senior Research Fellow for the Boston University School of Education.

The NEH is an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve teaching and learning of the humanities. It was founded in 1965. Today, it is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.

For more information on this year’s NEH Institute on Thomas Jefferson, please visit the NEH Institute’s website.

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