NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
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2008 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER ANNETTE GORDON-REED, HISTORIAN OF THOMAS JEFFERSON’S SECRET SLAVE FAMILY
NYS Writers Institute, March 4, 2009
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library,
8:00 p.m. Reading | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave.,
Historian Annette Gordon-Reed, winner of the 2008 National Book Award for “The Hemingses of Monticello” (2008), and author of the groundbreaking “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy” (1997), will speak on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., on the University at Albany’s downtown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. she will present an informal seminar on historical writing and research in Standish Room, Science Library on the uptown campus. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and are free and open to the public.
Annette Gordon-Reed has been called, “one of the most astute, insightful, and forthright historians of this generation” (Edmund Morgan, “The New York Review of Books”).
A Professor of History at Rutgers and Professor of Law at New York Law School, Gordon-Reed is the author of “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family”(2008), winner of the 2008 National Book Award. The new book tells the story of multiple generations of Thomas Jefferson’s secret slave family.
In bestowing the National Book Award, the panel of judges said, “In the mesmerizing narrative of Annette Gordon-Reed’s American family saga, one feels the steady accretion of convincing argument: Her book is at once a painstaking history of slavery, an unflinching gaze at the ways it has defined us, and a humane exploration of lives— grand and humble— that ‘our peculiar institution’ conjoined.”
In a starred review, “Publishers Weekly” called “The Hemingses of Monticello,” “fascinating, wise and of the utmost importance,” and said, “Gordon-Reed’s genius for reading nearly silent records makes this an extraordinary work.” The “New Republic” reviewer said, “With great historical imagination, she has done far more than put together a convincing case for the Jefferson-Hemings relationship. She has also reconstructed the complicated and intimate relations between black and white families in Jefferson’s household over several generations. And perhaps most important, she has uncovered the many expressions of humanity by both blacks and whites existing within the fundamentally inhumane institution [of slavery].”
Earlier works by Annette Gordon-Reed include “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy”(1997), the first complete, scholarly investigation of the evidence concerning the relationship between America’s third president and his slave mistress. Historian Jill Lepore, writing in the “New Yorker,”called it “[A] tour de force. . . . a devastating brief on standards of evidence in historical research.” Lepore added, “For Gordon-Reed, a legal scholar, the real scandal wasn’t what happened between Jefferson and Hemings but how willing earlier generations of Jefferson biographers had been to ignore the implications of the evidence right in front of them....”
Gordon-Reed is also the editor of the Oxford University Press essay anthology, “Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History” (2002). The “Law and Politics Book Review” said, “Gordon-Reed has compiled a fascinating collection by impressive scholars on important racially-oriented trials.”
Gordon-Reed is also the coauthor of “Vernon Can Read!”(2001), the autobiography of civil rights leader and Clinton confidant, Vernon Jordan.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620
or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.