The Info List - Jefferson Lecture

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The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities
is an honorary lecture series established in 1972 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). According to the NEH, the Lecture is "the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities."[1]


1 History of the Jefferson Lecture 2 Publications based on Jefferson Lectures 3 List of Jefferson Lecturers 4 References 5 External links

History of the Jefferson Lecture[edit] The Jefferson Lecturer is selected each year by the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-member citizen advisory board of the NEH. The honoree delivers a lecture in Washington, D.C., generally in conjunction with the spring meeting of the Council, and receives an honorarium of $10,000. The stated purpose of the honor is to recognize "an individual who has made significant scholarly contributions in the humanities and who has the ability to communicate the knowledge and wisdom of the humanities in a broadly appealing way."[1] The first Jefferson Lecturer, in 1972, was Lionel Trilling. He spoke on "Mind in the Modern World." Among other things, Trilling suggested that humanism had become the basis for social improvement, rather than science and the scientific method as has been predicted by Thomas Jefferson, the Lectures' namesake.[2] Ten years later, Gerald Holton, the first scientist invited to deliver the lecture, drew attention for responding to Trilling, proposing that Jefferson's vision of science as a force for social improvement was still viable, opining that there had been a "relocation of the center of gravity" of scientific inquiry toward solving society's important problems,[2] and cautioning that science education had to be improved dramatically or only a small "technological elite" would be equipped to take part in self-government.[3] The selection of the 2000 Jefferson Lecturer led to a spate of controversy. The initial selection was President Bill Clinton. William R. Ferris, chairman of the NEH, said that his intent was to establish a new tradition for every President to deliver a Jefferson Lecture during his or her presidency, and that this was consistent with the NEH's broader effort to increase public awareness of the humanities. However, some scholars and political opponents objected that the choice of Clinton represented an inappropriate and unprecedented politicization of the NEH. The heads of the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Humanities
Alliance expressed concerns about introducing political considerations into the selection, while William J. Bennett, a conservative Republican and former chairman of the NEH under President Ronald Reagan, charged that the proposal was an example of how Clinton had "corrupted all of those around him."[4] In the wake of the controversy, President Clinton declined the honor; a White House
White House
spokesperson said the President "didn't want the work of the National Endowment for the Humanities
to be called into question."[5] Ultimately the 2000 honor went to historian James M. McPherson, whose lecture turned out to be very popular. Subsequently, the NEH revised the criteria for the award to place more emphasis on speaking skills and public appeal.[6] The next Jefferson Lecture, by playwright Arthur Miller, again led to attacks from conservatives[7] such as Jay Nordlinger, who called it "a disgrace,"[8] and George Will, who did not like the political content of Miller's lecture and argued that Miller was not legitimately a "scholar."[9] Recent Jefferson Lecturers have included journalist/author Tom Wolfe;[10] Straussian
conservative political philosopher Harvey Mansfield;[11] and novelist John Updike, who, in a nod to the NEH's Picturing America arts initiative, devoted his 2008 lecture to the subject of American art.[12][13] In his 2009 lecture, bioethicist and self-described "humanist" Leon Kass expressed his view that science has become separated from its humanistic origins, and the humanities have lost their connection to metaphysical and theological concerns.[14] In 2013 the NEH went in a different direction, selecting film director Martin Scorsese. He was the first filmmaker chosen for the honor, and he spoke on "the evolution of his films, the art of storytelling, and the inspiration he draws from the humanities".[15] In 2014 the Jefferson Lecturer was author Walter Isaacson,[16] and the 2015 honoree was playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith.[17] As part of the NEH's celebration of its fiftieth anniversary in 2016, it selected documentarian Ken Burns
Ken Burns
to deliver the lecture.[18] The 2017 lecturer is University of Chicago
University of Chicago
philosophy and law professor Martha Nussbaum, who delivered her lecture, entitled "Powerlessness and the Politics of Blame", on May 1, 2017.[19] Publications based on Jefferson Lectures[edit] A number of the Jefferson Lectures have led to books, including Holton's The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens,[20] John Hope Franklin's Racial Equality in America,[21] Henry Louis Gates' The Trials of Phillis Wheatley[22] and Jaroslav Pelikan's The Vindication of Tradition.[23] Updike's 2008 lecture was included in his posthumous 2012 collection Always Looking.[24] Bernard Lewis' 1990 lecture on "Western Civilization: A View from the East" was revised and reprinted in The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly
under the title "The Roots of Muslim Rage".[25] According to one source, Lewis' lecture (and the subsequent article) first introduced the term "Islamic fundamentalism" to North America.[26] List of Jefferson Lecturers[edit] The following table lists the Jefferson Lecturers and the titles of their lectures.[1]

Year Lecturer Lecture Title

1972 Lionel Trilling "Mind in the Modern World"

1973 Erik Erikson "Dimensions of a New Identity"

1974 Robert Penn Warren "Poetry and Democracy"

1975 Paul A. Freund "Liberty: The Great Disorder of Speech"

1976 John Hope Franklin "Racial Equality in America"

1977 Saul Bellow "The Writer and His Country Look Each Other Over"

1978 C. Vann Woodward "The European Vision of America"

1979 Edward Shils "Render Unto Caesar: Government, Society, and Universities in their Reciprocal Rights and Duties"

1980 Barbara Tuchman "Mankind's Better Moments"

1981 Gerald Holton "Where is Science Taking Us?"

1982 Emily Vermeule "Greeks and Barbarians: The Classical Experience in the Larger World"

1983 Jaroslav Pelikan "The Vindication of Tradition"

1984 Sidney Hook "Education in Defense of a Free Society"

1985 Cleanth Brooks "Literature and Technology"

1986 Leszek Kołakowski "The Idolatry of Politics"

1987 Forrest McDonald "The Intellectual World of the Founding Fathers"

1988 Robert Nisbet "The Present Age"

1989 Walker Percy "The Fateful Rift: The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind"

1990 Bernard Lewis "Western Civilization: A View from the East"

1991 Gertrude Himmelfarb "Of Heroes, Villains and Valets"

1992 Bernard Knox "The Oldest Dead White European Males"

1993 Robert Conquest "History, Humanity and Truth"

1994 Gwendolyn Brooks "Family Pictures"

1995 Vincent Scully "The Architecture of Community"

1996 Toni Morrison "The Future of Time"

1997 Stephen Toulmin "A Dissenter's Story"

1998 Bernard Bailyn "To Begin the World Anew: Politics and the Creative Imagination"

1999 Caroline Walker Bynum "Shape and History: Metamorphosis in the Western Tradition"

2000 James M. McPherson "'For a Vast Future Also': Lincoln and the Millennium"

2001 Arthur Miller "On Politics and the Art of Acting"

2002 Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "Mr. Jefferson and the Trials of Phillis Wheatley"

2003 David McCullough "The Course of Human Events"

2004 Helen Vendler "The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar"

2005 Donald Kagan "In Defense of History"

2006 Tom Wolfe "The Human Beast"

2007 Harvey Mansfield "How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities
Can Say to Science"

2008 John Updike "The Clarity of Things: What Is American about American Art"

2009 Leon Kass "'Looking for an Honest Man': Reflections of an Unlicensed Humanist."

2010 Jonathan Spence "When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century"

2011 Drew Gilpin Faust "Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian"[27][28]

2012 Wendell Berry "It All Turns on Affection" [29][30]

2013 Martin Scorsese "Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema"[31]

2014 Walter Isaacson "The Intersection of the Humanities
and the Sciences"[16]

2015 Anna Deavere Smith "On the Road: A Search for American Character"[17]

2016 Ken Burns Race in America (subject; no title announced)[18]

2017 Martha Nussbaum "Powerlessness and the Politics of Blame."[19]


^ a b c Jefferson Lecture at NEH Website (retrieved January 22, 2009). ^ a b Alvin Krebs and Robert McG. Thomas, "Notes on People; Jeffersonian Theory Gets New Lease on Life," New York Times, May 12, 1981. ^ "Holton, in Jefferson Lecture, Criticizes Science Education," Harvard Crimson, May 15, 1981. ^ Irvin Molotsky, "Choice of Clinton to Give Humanities
Lecture Meets Resistance," New York Times, September 21, 1999. ^ "National News Briefs; Clinton Declines Offer To Give Scholarly Talk," New York Times, September 22, 1999. ^ Ron Southwick, "NEH Wants Jefferson Lectures to Have More Public Appeal," Chronicle of Higher Education, October 6, 2000. ^ Bruce Craig, "Arthur Miller's Jefferson Lecture Stirs Controversy," in "Capital Commentary" Archived 2008-11-22 at the Wayback Machine., OAH Newsletter [published by Organization of American Historians], May 2001. ^ Jay Nordlinger, "Back to Plessy, Easter with Fidel, Miller’s new tale, &c." National Review, April 22, 2002. ^ George Will, "Enduring Arthur Miller: Oh, the Humanities!" Jewish World Review, April 10, 2001. ^ David Epstein, "A Speech in Full," Inside Higher Ed, May 11, 2006. ^ Philip Kennicott, "A Strauss Primer, With Glossy Mansfield Finish," Washington Post, May 9, 2007. ^ Jennifer Howard, "In Jefferson Lecture, Updike Says American Art Is Known by Its Insecurity," Chronicle of Higher Education, May 23, 2008. ^ Jay Tolson," John Updike
John Updike
on American Art," U.S. News & World Report, May 23, 2008. ^ Serena Golden, "Tough Love for the Humanities", Inside Higher Ed, May 22, 2009 (retrieved May 22, 2009). ^ Dave Itzkoff, "He’s Talking to You: Scorsese to Give Jefferson Lecture for National Endowment for the Humanities", The New York Times, February 19, 2013. ^ a b Chris Waddington, "Best-selling biographer Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson
will deliver prestigious Jefferson Lecture in 2014", Times-Picayune, January 28, 2014. ^ a b Jennifer Schuessler, " Anna Deavere Smith
Anna Deavere Smith
to Deliver Jefferson Lecture", The New York Times, February 19, 2015. ^ a b Lorne Manly, " Ken Burns
Ken Burns
to Discuss Race in Jefferson Lecture", The New York Times, January 18, 2016. ^ a b " Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum
Named Jefferson Lecturer", Inside Higher Ed, January 19, 2017. ^ Gerald Holton, The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press 1986), ISBN 0-521-27243-2. ^ John Hope Franklin, Racial Equality in America (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993), ISBN 0-8262-0912-2 . ^ Henry Louis Gates, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers (Basic Civitas Books, 2003), ISBN 0-465-02729-6 ^ Jaroslav Pelikan, The Vindication of Tradition: The 1983 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), ISBN 0-300-03638-8. ^ Carl Dixon, "A critic keeping it surreal", Irish Examiner, January 11, 2013. ^ Bernard Lewis, "The Roots of Muslim Rage," The Atlantic Monthly, September 1990. ^ Amber Haque, "Islamophobia in North America: Confronting the Menace," in Barry van Driel, ed., Confronting Islamophobia in Educational Practice (Trentham Books, 2004), ISBN 1-85856-340-2, p.6, excerpt available online at Google Books. ^ " Drew Gilpin Faust
Drew Gilpin Faust
named 40th Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities", National Endowment for the Humanities, March 21, 2011. ^ Jacqueline Trescott, "Drew Gilpin Faust, the prize-winning historian and Harvard president, will deliver annual Jefferson Lecture", Washington Post, March 21, 2011. ^ "2012 Jefferson Lecture with Wendell Berry", NEH.gov, April 25, 2012. ^ Christopher Orlet, "The Affections of Wendell Berry", The American Spectator, May 3, 2012. ^ "Scorsese Talks 'The Language Of Cinema'", NPR, May 7, 2013.

External links[edit]

Official website

v t e

Thomas Jefferson

3rd President of the United States
United States
(1801–1809) 2nd U.S. Vice President (1797–1801) 1st U.S. Secretary of State (1790–1793) U.S. Minister to France (1785–1789) 2nd Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
(1779–1781) Delegate, Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress

Founding documents of the United States

A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774) Initial draft, Olive Branch Petition
Olive Branch Petition
(1775) Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775) 1776 Declaration of Independence

Committee of Five authored physical history "All men are created equal" "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" "Consent of the governed"

1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

freedom of religion

French Revolution

Co-author, Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen


Inaugural Address (1801 1805) Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves Louisiana Purchase Lewis and Clark Expedition

Corps of Discovery timeline Empire of Liberty

Red River Expedition Pike Expedition Cumberland Road Embargo Act of 1807

Chesapeake–Leopard affair Non-Intercourse Act of 1809

First Barbary War Native American policy Marbury v. Madison West Point Military Academy State of the Union Addresses (texts 1801 1802 1805) Cabinet Federal judicial appointments

Other noted accomplishments

Early life and career Founder, University of Virginia


Land Ordinance of 1784

Northwest Ordinance 1787

Anti-Administration party Democratic-Republican Party Jeffersonian democracy

First Party System republicanism

Plan for Establishing Uniformity in the Coinage, Weights, and Measure of the United States
United States
(1790) Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions A Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801)

Jeffersonian architecture

Barboursville Farmington Monticello


Poplar Forest University of Virginia

The Rotunda The Lawn

Virginia State Capitol White House
White House

Other writings

Notes on the State of Virginia
Notes on the State of Virginia
(1785) 1787 European journey memorandums Indian removal letters Jefferson Bible
Jefferson Bible
(1895) Jefferson manuscript collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society The Papers of Thomas Jefferson


Age of Enlightenment American Enlightenment American Philosophical Society American Revolution


Member, Virginia Committee of Correspondence Committee of the States Founding Fathers of the United States Franco-American alliance Jefferson and education Religious views Jefferson and slavery Jefferson and the Library of Congress Jefferson disk Jefferson Pier Pet mockingbird National Gazette Residence Act

Compromise of 1790

Sally Hemings

Jefferson–Hemings controversy Betty Hemings

Separation of church and state Swivel chair The American Museum magazine Virginia dynasty


United States
United States
Presidential election 1796 1800 1804


Bibliography Jefferson Memorial Mount Rushmore Birthday Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Center for the Protection of Free Expression Jefferson Lecture Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
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Thomas Jefferson
School of Law Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
University Washington and Jefferson National Forests Other placenames Currency depictions

Jefferson nickel Two-dollar bill

U.S. postage stamps

Popular culture

Ben and Me (1953 short) 1776 (1969 musical 1972 film) Jefferson in Paris
Jefferson in Paris
(1995 film) Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
(1997 film) Liberty! (1997 documentary series) Liberty's Kids
Liberty's Kids
(2002 animated series) John Adams
John Adams
(2008 miniseries) Jefferson's Garden (2015 play) Hamilton (2015 musical) Jefferson–Eppes Trophy Wine bottles controversy


Peter Jefferson
Peter Jefferson
(father) Jane Randolph Jefferson
Jane Randolph Jefferson
(mother) Lucy Jefferson Lewis (sister) Randolph Jefferson (brother) Isham Randolph (grandfather) William Randolph
William Randolph
(great-grandfather) Martha Jefferson
Martha Jefferson
(wife) Martha Jefferson
Martha Jefferson
Randolph (daughter) Mary Jefferson Eppes (daughter) Harriet Hemings
Harriet Hemings
(daughter) Madison Hemings
Madison Hemings
(son) Eston Hemings
Eston Hemings
(son) Thomas J. Randolph (grandson) Francis Eppes (grandson) George W. Randolph
George W. Randolph
(grandson) John Wayles Jefferson
John Wayles Jefferson
(grandson) Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
(son-in-law) John Wayles Eppes (son-in-law) John Wayles (father-in-law) Dabney Carr
Dabney Carr
(brother-in-law) Dabney Carr
Dabney Carr

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James Madison


v t e

Jefferson Lecturers

Trilling Erikson Warren Freund Franklin Bellow Woodward Shils Tuchman Holton Vermeule Pelikan Hook C. Brooks Kołakowski McDonald Nisbet Percy Lewis Himmelfarb Knox Conquest G. Brooks Scully Morrison Toulmin Bailyn Bynum McPherson Miller Gates McCullough Vendler Kagan Wolfe Mansfield Updike Kass Spence Faust Berry Scorsese Isaacson Sm