September 17, 1999

National Book Award Winner Joseph J. Ellis to Give Lecture at Middlebury College on Oct. 1

Historian Joseph J. Ellis, who won the National Book Award for "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson" (Knopf, 1997), will deliver the Charles S. Grant Memorial Lecture on Friday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. in Middlebury College's Mead Chapel on Hepburn Road, off College Street (Route 125). The title of his talk is "What Jefferson Did: The Jefferson Legacy Today." The lecture is free and open to the public.

Joseph J. Ellis, the Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, is a nationally recognized scholar on American history from colonial times through the early decades of the republic. "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson" explores the complexities of Jefferson's character and analyzes the central role of his political philosophy in the unfolding of the American experience. He is currently at work on a new book titled "Founding Brothers," about the entire revolutionary generation.

Ellis' work, from scholarly articles and essays to reviews and opinion pieces, has been published in a variety of publications, including American Heritage, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, and Civilization. He has also appeared many times on C-SPAN, "Fox News," and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

Ellis, who received an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and a master's and doctorate from Yale University, has taught at Yale, West Point, and, since 1972, at Mount Holyoke College. A former U.S. Army officer, Ellis has lectured at the Army War College and at West Point on the Vietnam War and on the education of Army officers in the post-Cold War era. He was also a consultant and appeared as a participant in the Ken Burns documentary "Thomas Jefferson," which aired on PBS in February of 1997. He also co-authored an article which accompanied the DNA study of Jefferson's descendants by Sally Hemings in the November 1998 issue of Nature magazine.

Professor Ellis has received many honors and fellowships, including a Guggenheim and a National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship.

Ellis' talk will be the 24th Grant Memorial Lecture, established in honor of the late Charles S. Grant, a member of the Middlebury College history department for several years prior to his untimely death in 1961. Previous speakers who have delivered the Grant Memorial Lecture, which maintains a focus on American history, range from David McCullough, author of the prize-winning biography "Truman," to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who served from 1961-1963 as special assistant to President John F. Kennedy.

For more information, contact Travis Jacobs in the history department of Middlebury College at 802-443-5315.