chapter  9
18 Pages

My head and my heart: de-constructing the historical/hysterical binary that conceals and reveals emotion in educational leadership


Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, voluminous letter writer, and collector of books from around the world, was one of the most rational men of his time. Yet even the intellectual and well-read Jefferson found himself at odds when he fell in love with a vivacious, beautiful married woman, Maria Cosway of England. At a traumatic parting in Paris, Jefferson penned to her one of the most famous love letters in the English language entitled, ‘My head and my heart’ (Brodie 1974: 483). In this dialogue written in 1786, the distraught Jefferson recalls their times together. Battling with his inflamed heart, Jefferson uses his head to remind his heart,

Everything in this world is a matter of calculation. Advance then with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, and see which preponderates.