Thomas Jefferson is best remembered as one of the founding fathers of the United States, the nation's third president, and as the celebrated author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. His influence, both good and bad, continues to shape political, economic, and social discussions today, and his legacy is often at the center of some of the most controversial topics, sparking heated debates and raising important questions about religious freedom, racism, and more. Jefferson not only wrote voluminously himself but has also been the subject of numerous works of creative writing and other works. This volume examines not only Jefferson's own writings but also many different works about him.
For all these reasons and more, this latest contribution to the Critical Insights series may be of special interest to many readers. A collection of four critical contexts essays are intended to treat Jefferson's writings (1) from a historical vantage point, (2) in terms of its critical reception, (3) using a specific critical lens, and (4) by comparing and contrasting it with other important works. This section opens with an essay by Daniel Roeber that narrates the history of religious liberty in the Constitution as a response to a history of religious oppression, focusing heavily on Jefferson’s role and involvement. This is followed by a survey by Brandon Schneeberger of Jefferson’s interest in rhetoric and literature. The following essay is by Nicolas Tredell, closely and critically examining Jefferson’s words that helped shape the national identity, drawing on the Declaration of Independence and Notes on the State of Virginia amongst others. Robert Evans closes this section by continuing the discussion on Jefferson’s writing, particularly in comparison to the ideas of Lord Kames.
Next is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- My Life with Thomas Jefferson, John B. Boles
- Jefferson and the Long Eighteenth Century, Nicolas Tredell
- Jefferson the Dramatist: His “Dialogue between the Head and the Heart” (with a Complete, Numbered Text), Robert C. Evans
- Jefferson’s Proverbial Language, Kevin J. Hayes
- Thomas Jefferson Seen through the Eyes of Robert Penn Warren, Steven D. Ealy
- Recent Poems Inspired by Thomas Jefferson, Robert C. Evans
- Ken Burns’ Documentary Film Thomas Jefferson: A Survey of Responses, Kyla Free
- Sally Hemings: An American Scandal: A Survey of Reactions to the 2000 CBS Miniseries, Suzanne Strength
- Jefferson and Me: A View from Abroad, Hannah Spahn
In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life. A selection of further reading is then provided. Each essay in Critical Insights: Thomas Jefferson includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. Also included in this volume is a Bibliography, biographies of the Editor and Contributors, and an alphabetical Index.
The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: Thomas Jefferson provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.