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National Book Award winner to speak March 25



Annette Gordon-Reed

Historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed will speak at Lehigh University on March 25 about her book The Hemingses of Monticello, which won her the 2008 National Book Award for Nonfiction. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, takes place at 4:10 p.m. in Sinclair Auditorium.

The Hemingses of Monticello tells the story of the Hemingses, a slave family whose close blood ties to Thomas Jefferson had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826. Her work brings to life the story of Sally Hemings, a woman who was a slave, the half-sister of Thomas Jefferson’s wife Martha, and the mother of Jefferson’s enslaved children.

“It is no wonder that Gordon-Reed won a National Book Award; her book is a remarkable work of recovery and inquiry,” says Monica Najar, associate professor of history. “It is not just about the illicit relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, but the myths we tell about ourselves, our history, our bloodlines, and our families. This is an unusual, and even extraordinary story, but it is also a deeply American one.”

Gordon-Reed is a professor of law at New York Law School and a professor of history at Rutgers University. She is also the author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, editor of Race On Trial: Law and Justice in American History, and co-author with Vernon Jordan of Vernon Can Read: A Memoir.

Gordon-Reed’s lecture will be followed by a reception and book signing. The visit is sponsored by The Gipson Institute for Eighteenth Century Studies and co-sponsored by the Visiting Lecturers Committee, the history department, the American Studies Program, the Humanities Center, the Women’s Center, and Africana Studies.

--Tricia Long


Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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