The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Lunchtime Seminar Series

Our lunch seminars begin at 12:30, with lunch served beginning at noon. We ask for RSVPs for all lunches. They go to the CTI address, All lunches this semester will take place in Batts 5.108.

Thursday, Feburary 7: Professor Tulis on Legacies of Losing

Professor Tulis will be on hand for a lunchtime seminar based on his new book, Legacies of Losing. The topic of the book is as follows:

American politics is typically a story about winners. The fading away of defeated politicians and political movements is a feature of American politics that ensures political stability and a peaceful transition of power. But American history has also been built on defeated candidates, failed presidents, and social movements that at pivotal moments did not dissipate as expected but instead persisted and eventually achieved success for the loser’s ideas and preferred policies.

Thursday, February 21: Ahmed Siddiqi, Alfarabi on the 'Virtue of Struggle' in Islamic Law

The works of Alfarabi, the founder of political philosophy in the Muslim world, reveal a deep concern with the theoretical and practical challenge to philosophy presented by divinely revealed law. This talk will describe Alfarabi's attempt to defend political rationalism in the face of this challenge. Special attention will be given to Alfarabi's understanding of the "virtue of struggle," which he perceived to be central to the moral psychology of religious belief as such. This talk should be of interest to anyone who has ever thought about God.

Ahmed Siddiqi earned his PhD from the Department of Government at UT in 2018. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Emory University.

Thursday, March 14: Bible and Its Interpreters Panel Discussion--David, Sinner or Saint?

Professors Kaplan, Landau, and Yoo, all of whom teach the Bible and Its Interpreters for CTI, will participate in a panel discussion on different appraoches to the figure of David in the Bible. 

Political Discussion Group

Tuesday, February 5: Polarized: A Panel on the Roots of our Rage
6:00 PM • JESA203A

The Texas Political Union invites the Jefferson Center community to attend our first event of the semester, Polarized, a panel discussion on political polarization. We will be hosting distinguished experts from multiple disciplines to discuss why we get so angry about politics and what we can do about it. Confirmed speakers include Professor Bethany Albertson from the Government department, Professor Daron Shaw from the Government department, and Professor Mark Longaker from the Rhetoric department. If you are interested in politics, civility, or social activism, you will not want to miss this discussion. We look forward to beginning another semester of enlightening conversations.

Here is some background reading/viewing for those interested in exploring this issue ahead of our event.:

Theresa Bejan: Is Civility A Sham? (

Chris Duhigg: Why Is America So Angry? (

Pew Center: Why do people belong to a party? ( 

Interfaith Discussion Group

Monday, February 18: On Genesis 22
5:00 PM • WAG 403B

For the first meeting of the interfaith group, we'll be discussing the story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22. It is perhaps the essential text on the virtue of obedience in the Bible, and how to think about divine commands, especially when the reasons for them are hidden.

Dr. Yoo has agreed to attend the group. The readings include the key section of Genesis 22, as well as relevant passages from Hebrews and the Koran. Find the links below.

Genesis 22

Hebrews passage

Koran passage

Activity Fund

The Jefferson Scholars Program has a student activity fund that scholars may draw upon to attend cultural events such as plays and classical music concerts both on and off campus. To use the student activity fund, you must:

1) select an event and get pre-approval from Assistant Director Erik Dempsey,
2) attend the event in a group comprised of more than one Jefferson Scholar, and
3) submit one receipt for the event to the Jefferson Center office in Mr. Dempsey, together with the JSP Activity Fund Reimbursement Form. For example, if you go to a play, one person should collect money from the entire group and that person will be reimbursed for all the tickets.