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Archive for November, 2009

Book Talk at Monticello Tomorrow (Nov.4)

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I’ll be giving another presentation about my book at the Jefferson Library at Monticello tomorrow (Wed. at 4 PM) — if you happen to be in the neighborhood, come on by. Obviously, it’s a wonderful place to be giving a talk about Jefferson, and I’m trying, at least, to match the grandeur of the place with a decent talk . . . I just found out a few days ago that Merrill Peterson, the longtime professor of history at UVA and the dean of living Jefferson scholars, passed away at the end of September at the age of 88, and I am going to dedicate the talk to his memory. I am a law professor, not a professional historian, and I came to Jefferson, and Jefferson scholarship, from a funny direction – working and writing about the developing law of the Internet, and intellectual property law. I spent 15 years working on my book, and one of the many pleasures it gave me was that it caused me to confront some small portion of the vast trove of Jefferson scholarship, of which Peterson’s work was such an important part. When my book was published last Spring Peterson was one of the people I sent a copy to – we had never met, but my respect for him and for his lifetime of work was genuine and very deep; Peterson represented historical scholarship at its best, rich and probing and full of life. He sent me back a lovely handwritten note, thanking me for the book and for, as he put it, “building a bridge between Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia and what you call cyberspace” – though, he added, “I confess ignorance of the latter.” He had actually read (and enjoyed!) the book (”a great read!,” he wrote), which I found, and continue to find, infinitely gratifying.