University of Virginia, Charlottesville, United States Published on January 31, 2021 Apple, iPhone 12 Pro Free to use under the Unsplash License The rotunda in the snow

This course provides an overview of Thomas Jefferson’s work and perspectives presented by the University of Virginia in partnership with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. UVA and Monticello are recognized internationally as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Thomas Jefferson is an American icon. He has also been one of American history’s most polarizing and controversial figures. This introductory module will explore how Jefferson’s reputation has changed and evolved over the last two centuries. We’ll discover what Jefferson considered his most important contribution to the “Age of Enlightenment” in which he was living. We’ll discuss why some people in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries viewed Jefferson and his ideas with skepticism or worse, while others embraced Jefferson. Learning about how people from many different backgrounds and perspectives have interpreted Jefferson throughout history will help us understand why it’s so important to think critically and honestly about Jefferson’s life and legacy today.

Professor Peter S. Onuf

Professor Peter S. Onuf

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor, Emeritus


Peter S. Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia, where he taught for over twenty years. Onuf is also a Senior Fellow at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. A leading scholar of Jefferson and the early American republic, he is the author, co-author, and editor of numerous books, including (as author) Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (2001), The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2007), and (as editor) Jeffersonian Legacies (1993). He is also a co-host (with Brian Balogh and Edward Ayers) of the weekly public radio program and podcast Backstory with the American History Guys.
Jul 30, 2020

Great lessons in the history of UVA and its architect/founder Thomas Jefferson. The professor was excited about the subject matter and conveyed the history with enthusiasm and vigor.

Paul Langan

by IP Jul 6, 2020
I was very well taught and happy to be part of this course. Thanks to Mr. Onuf. and the University of Virginia.

by GS Sep 25, 2016
Excellent course! I learned so much about Jefferson and appreciated Dr. Onuf’s expertise.

by SK Jul 18, 2020
what a great course! being a native of Virginia