I’m very pleased to finally be getting on with something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now: online classes! If you watch the video above, you’ll get a brief introduction to my very first online history seminar, “The Contradictions of Thomas Jefferson.” The class will be happening online (on Google Hangouts) on Sunday, June 25, 2017, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM Pacific time. What you need to participate: a computer with Internet connection (if you’re reading this now, you’ve got that), a webcam and microphone (the ones that come standard on most modern laptops are fine), a Google account (free) and $25.
Who was Thomas Jefferson? Aside from being America’s third President and first oenophile, Jefferson stands apart from the other Founding Fathers due to the depths of the contradictions he espoused. He wrote thrilling language of freedom that has resonated for centuries; yet he owned slaves and fathered children by a slave mistress. He was an elder statesman on the world stage, but the political tricks he used to get there were dirtier than most. He was surprisingly progressive and forward-thinking for his time, yet also an arch-conservative on many other things. What made this fascinating man tick? Is there any hope of “squaring the circle” regarding Jefferson and his contradictions? That’s what I hope this class will explore.
As I said in the video, this is not a static video lecture. You’ll actually be discussing, asking questions, taking part, raising issues or even steering the class in the directions of your interest. I’ll be providing documents that we’ll look at line by line–specifically Jefferson’s “Rights of British America,” which is what got him the gig writing the Declaration of Independence, plus Notes on the State of Virginia, his famous “heart vs. head” letter to his girlfriend Maria Cosway, and some surprises that you might not anticipate. This is what I do best, and if you love history, I don’t see how you can go wrong with this class.
The cost is $25 to participate. Here’s my PayPal link. If you want to sign up, please provide not only a working email address, but specify that you’re interested in the Jefferson class (because I’m also offering another class, July 23, on the history of climate change). This will be a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon or evening, so I’d love to have you joining us!
[Note: there is no university or any other official credit attached to this course.]
Come let me guide you into the mind of one of the most brilliant and enigmatic Americans who ever lived. See you on June 25!