Edgar Allan Poe appears before Jefferson Society on Friday the 13th

Poet, wastrel, and former University of Virginia student Edgar Allan Poe presented a selection of his best known works to the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, November 13, 2009. Mr. Poe’s recitations included Eldorado, The Raven, and a chilling enactment of The Tell-Tale Heart.

Scott Craig Jones is the image and voice of Edgar Allan Poe. He presents “Edgar Allan Poe Comes Alive!” to middle school, high school, and college audiences throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Find out more about The Traveling Jones Theater at his website.

“The Life and Times of Winston Churchill” at Jefferson Society

University of Virginia Professor C. Brian Kelly and Ingrid Smyer-Kelly are co-authors of the recently published “Best Little Stories from the Life and Times of Winston Churchill.” The Kellys’ book won an honorable mention in the London Festival of Books last December and was praised by a reviewer for the international Churchill Centre’s quarterly publication “Finest Hour.” On Friday, October 9, 2009, the Kellys spoke to the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on “Anecdotally Speaking: The Life and Times of Winston Churchill” as part of the Jefferson Society’s Fall Speaker Series.

The Churchill book is the ninth in the Best Little Stories series of historical books produced by the husband-and-wife writing team. They began in 1989 by self-publishing Best Little Stories from World War II. Two more self-published anecdotal histories soon followed, one on the history of the White House and one on the Civil War. Each book features a section by Mrs. Smyer-Kelly on the women of the historical period.

Mr. Kelly was a newspaper reporter for 20 years and now teaches news writing at the University of Virginia. Mrs. Smyer-Kelly is a former freelance writer for newspapers. In recent years she has served on the board of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center of Virginia in Charlottesville and as a member of the city’s Historical Resources Committee

Jefferson Society: Kenneth Elzinga on Unconventional Leadership Principles

Kenneth Elzinga
Kenneth Elzinga

The third speaker in the Jefferson Society’s Fall 2009 Speaker Series was Professor Kenneth Elzinga. On Friday, September 18, Professor Elzinga spoke on the topic, “Some Unconventional Principles of Leadership.”

Kenneth G. Elzinga is the Robert C. Taylor Chair in Economics at the University of Virginia, and has been a member of the faculty since 1967. Mr. Elzinga has received many distinguished awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest honor the University of Virginia accords its faculty. Each fall Mr. Elzinga teaches the largest class offered at the University of Virginia, introductory economics.

Mr. Elzinga’s major research interest is antitrust economics, especially pricing strategy and market definition. He has testified in several precedent-setting antitrust cases. He is a former Fellow in Law and Economics as the University of Chicago and a Thomas Jefferson Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University. Mr. Elzinga is the author of more than seventy academic publications.

He also is known for three mystery novels, co-authored with William Breit under the pen name Marshall Jevons, in which the protagonist employs economic analysis to solve the crime.

Nicholas Schmidle speaks to Jefferson Society on Pakistan

Nicholas Schmidle
Nicholas Schmidle

Nicholas Schmidle spoke to the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, September 11, 2009 on the subject of his new book, To Live or To Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years Inside Pakistan.

In early 2006, Nicholas moved to Pakistan, backed by a writing fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs. He lived and reported in Pakistan for two years, before being deported from Pakistan in January 2008. He has also worked in Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Nicholas received the 2008 Kurt Schork Award for freelance journalism, based on his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He speaks Persian and Urdu, and is a graduate of James Madison University and American University.

Mr. Schmidle is a freelance writer whose work focuses on the intersection of culture, religion, politics, and security in the developing world. He is a fellow at the New America Foundation. Mr. Schmidle contributes to The New York Times Magazine, Slate, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Smithsonian and others. He has written on a range of topics, including Sufi festivals and Taliban lashings in Pakistan, rising sea levels in the Maldives, women’s boarding schools in Saudi Arabia, and al-Qaeda’s franchise in Mauritania.

Former Governor Jim Gilmore speaks on “The New Liberty”

Former Governor of Virginia Jim Gilmore addressed the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, April 17, 2009. His subject was “The New Socialism vs. the New Liberty.” Mr. Gilmore touched on themes of individual freedom in the context of taxation, economic stimulus packages, global warming, health care, gun ownership, and foreign policy. He then took questions from the capacity crowd.

University of Virginia alumnus James Gilmore III has devoted a career of service to his home state of Virginia and to his nation. He served as governor of Virginia from 1998-2002. From 1999-2003, he was the chair of the U.S. Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, commonly known as the Gilmore Commission. In 2001 he served as chair of the Republican National Committee. He is currently chairman of the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness. You may read his official blog at Virginia Patriot.

Jeffrey Matsuura on Jefferson vs. the Patent Trolls

[Picture of Jeffrey H. Matsuura]
Jeffrey H. Matsuura
On April 4, 2009, attorney Jeffrey Matsuura addressed the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on the subject of his new book, Jefferson vs. the Patent Trolls. Afterward, he took questions from the audience on various aspects of intellectual property law.

Jeffrey Matsuura is an intellectual property attorney with the Alliance Law Group in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. His latest book, Jefferson vs. the Patent Trolls: A Populist Vision of Intellectual Property Rights, is published by the University of Virginia Press.

Thomas Jefferson Addresses the Jefferson Society

Steven Edenbo as Thomas Jefferson

Founding Father, international diplomat, and University of Virginia Founder Thomas Jefferson of Monticello addressed the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, March 27, 2009. Though he claimed to not be “an adept at public speaking,” he spoke to the assembled guests on a variety of topics ranging from the contentious election of 1800 to the dangers of holding our political leaders in too exalted an esteem.

Steven Edenbo has been a Thomas Jefferson impersonator, historian, and motivational speaker
with the American Historical Theatre since 1999.

Dr. William Wulf addresses the Jefferson Society

William Wulf

Professor William Wulf addressed the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, March 13, 2009, on the topic, “Responsible Citizenship in a Technological Democracy.” His lecture addressed the importance of science and technology education in promoting an informed citizenry.

William Wulf is the AT&T Professor of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. From 1988 to 1990, Dr. Wulf served as Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation, where he headed the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). Dr. Wulf is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the ACM, the IEEE, and the AAAS. In 1968 Dr. Wulf received the first Computer Science Ph.D. ever awarded at the University of Virginia.

Jefferson Society: William Cochran on The Power of Seeing Differently

William Cochran

William Cochran addressed the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, February 20, 2009, drawing on his work as a public landmark artist to illustrate his lecture, “The Power of Seeing Differently.” Afterwards he took questions from the audience.

William Cochran creates landmark public artworks in paint, glass, masonry, bronze, steel, stone and light. These projects frequently engage the community directly in the creative process. They explore local history and the meaning of place in ways that illuminate common ground. The artworks are carefully woven into their social and architectural environments, yet they retain a strong sense of the human hand.

William and his partner Teresa work with a wide range of government, private, community-based and non-profit organizations to develop and implement these projects. This work often involves master planning and visioning processes for public art and placemaking.

Ralph Alan Cohen on the Theater of the Imagination

Ralph Alan Cohen
Ralph Alan Cohen

Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen spoke to a meeting of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on February 13, 2009. His presentation, “The Theater of the Imagination,” traced the history of theater from Shakespeare’s time to our own, including the connection and competition between theater and film. According to Dr. Cohen, “The audience for live drama is dropping precipitously,” due at least in part to the influence of film and the increasing emphasis on creating stage illusions rather than communal imaginative experiences. Dr. Cohen and his colleague Sarah Enloe illustrated his points with selections from Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice.

Blackfriars Playhouse
Blackfriars Playhouse

Dr. Cohen is Founding Executive Director and Director of Mission at the American Shakespeare Center and Gonder professor of Shakespeare in performance in the Master of Letters and Fine Arts program at Mary Baldwin College. He was the project director for the building of the Blackfriars Playhouse, built in 2001. He has directed twenty professional productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. He is the author of ShakesFear and How to Cure It: A Handbook for Teaching Shakespeare, which won the AEP’s Distinguished Achievement Award, has twice guest edited special teaching issues of Shakespeare Quarterly, and has published articles on teaching Shakespeare as well as on Shakespeare, Jonson, and Elizabethan staging. Dr. Cohen is a former professor of English at James Madison University, where he founded the Studies Abroad program and where he won Virginia’s award for outstanding faculty. In 2008 Dr. Cohen and ASC co-founder Jim Warren won the Governor’s Arts Award.

NRO’s Jonah Goldberg addresses Jefferson Society

Jonah Goldberg spoke to the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, November 21, 2008, on the subject of his latest book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Mr. Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, a contributing editor to National Review, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

After his talk, Mr. Goldberg took questions from the audience:

01:01:00 Are political humor shows like the Daily Show or the Colbert Report having a negative effect on today’s youth?

01:03:00 Could you comment on your recent debate with columnist Kathleen Parker on the direction of the GOP?

01:08:00 The Nazis may have begun with a socialist ideology, but had they not moved away from socialism by the late 1930s?

01:13:00 President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus; President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts: would you classify these two presidents as fascist?

01:17:00 Why in modern political culture is there an impulse to associate with fringe movements like fascism?

01:21:00 What is it about Christianity that rattles totalitarian regimes?

01:26:00 What are some differences in the ways the right and the left use the rhetoric of “the moral equivalent of war”?

Economist Bryan Caplan addresses Jefferson Society

Professor Bryan Caplan addressed the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society on Friday, November 7, 2008, on the subject of his new book, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. Caplan, an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar, supported his often counter-intuitive theories with findings from his research.

After his presentation, Professor Caplan took questions from the audience, including:

00:44:00 Who tends to score higher on the “political IQ test”: Democrats or Republicans?

00:45:00 What can be done to correct for systematic bias in the voting population?

00:47:00 Should we limit suffrage to knowledgable voters only?

00:50:00 Although average persons may not know the answers to the technical questions on the political IQ test, they do experience economics in every day life. Does that necessarily make their opinions less valuable?

00:52:00 Is the economic feasibility of a policy the only measure of its value?