Lectures & Seminars
How Manhattan Became an Isle of Joy

Historian Mike Wallace takes a fascinating look at the confluence of social, economic, and creative forces that transformed New York City in the 1920s into a cultural mecca. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the rides at Coney Island, there was something for everyone.

Date
Monday, October 23, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
How the Brain Works

Neuroscientist Moran Cerf looks at how the brain influences behavior, emotion, decision-making, and dreams. He also offers a new perspective on how much free will we have.

Date
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Jane Austen: From the Parlor to Politics

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. The passing years have increased her novels’ appeal as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Dashwood sisters, and Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley continue to delight us. Discover how Austen introduced the realities of Regency England into her carefully crafted worlds.

Date
Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Evolution of Alice Waters: How American Cuisine Found Its Way

When Alice Waters opened restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, in 1971, no one ever anticipated the indelible mark it would leave on the culinary landscape. Tonight, Waters talks about her evolution from follower to activist who effects change on a global level through the common bond of food.

Date
Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
From Neoclassicism to Romanticism

Neoclassicism focused on order and the enduring values of Greece and Rome. Romanticism embraced exotic scenes and studies of nature. Art historian Joseph Cassar explores the artistic and cultural highlights of the two movements, from the Enlightenment to the Age of Revolution, and their lasting impact on Western artists. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In Search of Ancient Israel

Step back in history with biblical scholar Gary Rendsburg as he presents a fascinating overview of new findings about the world of ancient Israel. Learn about archaeological excavation and exploration in the Holy Land and what has been revealed about the people, culture, society, and religion of that ancient land.

Date
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Mummies and Their Mysteries: Kings to Crocodiles to Eva Peron

The practice of mummification dates back thousands of years. Egyptologist Bob Brier (also known as Mr. Mummy), discusses the history of mummies from ancient to modern times.

Date
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Secret Revolution: Espionage, 1776 Style

Learn how George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other leaders of the American Revolution used espionage, covert action, and other techniques to trick the British.  David Robarge, chief historian at the CIA, explores the secrets of the Revolutionary War.

Date
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Alex Guarnaschelli: The Home Cook

Alex Guarnaschelli’s mother edited the seminal 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking, which defined the food of the late 20th century. Now the accomplished chef and author talks about her new cookbook, The Home Cook, with recipes that reflect the way we eat today.

Date
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Grisly World of Victorian Surgery

If you were unlucky enough to need surgery in the early 19th-century, you had more to fear than your malady: The procedure itself could kill you. Medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris leads a fascinating Halloween-night excursion into the germ-ridden, dirty, and often-deadly Victorian operating room, where your surgeon made up for his lack of skill by some fairly gruesome means.

Date
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: Where the Noble Experiment Flopped

Prohibition came to the nation’s capital in 1917—three years earlier than the rest of the country. Despite the head start, Washington turned out to be a town that nurtured more than 3,000 speakeasies and where Congress had its own-in house bootlegger. Garrett Peck raises a toast to the centennial of the booze ban that wasn’t.

Date
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Written Out of History

In the earliest days of our nation, a handful of unsung heroes—including women, slaves, and an Iroquois chief—pioneered the ideas that led to the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and the eventual abolition of slavery. Their largely forgotten stories are given a deserved airing by Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

Date
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Incomparable Ella: A 100th Birthday Tribute

John Edward Hasse, curator of the current Smithsonian exhibition Ella Fitzgerald at 100: First Lady of Song, draws on film and video clips, rare photographs, and original recordings  to provide insight into the extraordinary life and career of Ella Fitzgerald.

Date
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Analyzing President Trump’s First Year: Twelve Months Unlike Any Other

On the 1-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election, experts from media and politics offer a measured examination of the changes President Trump has brought and how the political landscape has changed in 12 tumultuous months.

Date
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Secrets of the Sommeliers

Not long ago, sommeliers were little more than bit players in the theater of fine dining. These days, however, many “somms” are among the marquee players in the world of food and wine. Hear four established stars share stories about working with wine and then enjoy a guided wine tasting.

Date
Friday, November 3, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Scott Kelly: A Year in Space

The veteran of four space flights, astronaut Scott Kelly discusses the dangers, achievements, and physical and emotional challenges he encountered during his record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station.

Date
Friday, November 3, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
Visual Literacy: The Art of Seeing

In an illustrated daylong program, art historian Lisa Passaglia Bauman explains how art communicates, how to analyze and interpret it, and how it reveals something about the society that produced it. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Traditional Roots of Modern China: How an Ancient World View Drives Contemporary Policies

In a timely daylong program, China scholar Robert Daly traces China’s 21st-century drive for wealth, power, and status to the beliefs, geographic influences, and social and cultural practices rooted in the earliest dynasties.

Date
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The Black Sea: Civilizations at the Crossroads of Europe and Asia

From antiquity to our own day, the Black Sea has been a crossroads of civilizations and is still a bridge between Europe and the Middle East and between the cultures of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Spend a day drawn into its turbulent past and present.

Date
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Burr Conspiracy: An Early American Crisis of the Truth

What led Aaron Burr to be tried for treason in 1807? Historian James E. Lewis Jr. examines how partisan politics, biased newspapers, Thomas Jefferson—and Burr’s rumored plan to establish a new empire ruled by his daughter—all played a role in the former vice president’s public depiction as “the chief villain of the Founding Fathers.”

Date
Monday, November 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Future of Spices

The global culinary movement has made even the most exotic spices an essential part of many kitchens today. Lior Lev Sercarz, a chef, spice blender, and owner of New York City spice shop, discusses how the demand for spices and ethnic food are challenging producers today, and looks at new applications for spices—such as distilling and brewing—that move beyond cooking.

Date
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Fate of Rome: Nature’s Triumph Over Human Ambition

The centuries-long dissolution of the Roman Empire was shaped not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. Classicist Kyle Harper traces how a seemingly invincible empire fell victim to forces far stronger than its armies: those of the environment.

Date
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Lee Child on Jack Reacher’s Latest Adventure

As his newest thriller debuts, join internationally bestselling author Lee Child as he discusses the inspiration behind his Jack Reacher novels, his writing process, and the latest story in the series, The Midnight Line.

Date
Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Jacques Pepin: Cooking for the Love of It

For years, legendary cook, teacher, and host Jacques Pepin has made it look easy. Now, he has a new kitchen apprentice: his granddaughter, 13-year-old Shorey Wesen. Listen to a delightful conversation as Pepin and Shorey sit down with Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post.

Date
Friday, November 10, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Tea with a Bookseller: Previews of the Newest Nonfiction Titles

Washington is home to excellent local bookstores serving every kind of literary taste. In the second installment of a new monthly series in which local booksellers preview upcoming titles, Jon Purves from Politics and Prose looks at the big nonfiction books set to debut this fall. (Tea, sherry, and cookies round out each session.)

Date
Sunday, November 12, 2017 - 4:00 p.m.
The Norman Invasion: William’s Unlikely Conquest

The 1066 invasion and occupation of England led by Duke William II of Normandy changed the course of history. But the Norman Conquest never should have succeeded. Historian Jennifer Paxton sets the scene for this unlikely triumph for France, and how its after-effects echo through the centuries.

Date
Monday, November 13, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Gilbert and Sullivan and the Savoy Tradition

In this lively evening, Steinway artist and musical theater expert Robert Wyatt draws on musical recordings and film clips to introduce this legendary theatrical duo and the cultural and societal trends that informed their work. A performance by members of the Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society adds to the Savoyard delights.

Date
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Lafayette Escadrille: Legends with a Cause

The brash young Americans who volunteered to fly with French fighter pilots during the early days of World War I became the nucleus of the legendary Lafayette Escadrille. Paul Glenshaw, an aviation expert and filmmaker, tells the story of the “founding fathers of American combat aviation” and offers preview clips from his documentary film about the Escadrille pilots.

Date
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Code Girls: The Women Who Decrypted World War II

In 1942, more than 10,000 young women were recruited for a top-secret project in which they served as codebreakers for the U.S. Army and Navy. Their wartime achievements saved countless lives and aided the Allied victory—but were nearly erased from history. Author Liza Mundy rescues the code girls’ amazing story.

Date
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
La Cucina vs. La Cuisine: A Gastronomic Faceoff

Italian and French food fans seem destined to be at perpetual odds in the “which-is-the best?” argument. Join Fred Plotkin, author of six books on Italian culinary traditions, as he examines how la cucina and la cuisine are not so much rivals as great influences and inspirations on one another. Afterward, savor a buffet that shows off the delights of both cuisines.

Date
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Thomas Paine: Revolutions of a Founding Father

He was admired for helping to ignite the fight for independence in the Colonies, but when Thomas Paine died in June 1809 only a dozen people came to his funeral. Historian Richard Bell examines the reasons behind Paine’s meteoric rise to celebrity status during the American Revolution and his equally dramatic fall from grace in the decades afterward.

Date
Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Spell of Vermeer

A master of light and color, Vermeer created a timeless world in which the smallest actions took on a beauty beyond their commonplace settings. Explore his artistry and legacy with art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Protestant Reformation

October 31, 2017—Reformation Day—marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that began with Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. John M. Freymann, permanent military professor in history at the U.S. Naval Academy, reviews the emergence and development of the 16th-century reformations from the late Middle Ages into the early modern period.

Date
Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Secret Selves: Charlotte and Emily Brontë

Charlotte and Emily Brontë lived a small, isolated family home in an English village, far from literary circles. Author John Pfordresher examines the forces of creative imagination and personality that nonetheless allowed them to cast a critical eye on the issues of their time through passionate female characters—who often resembled their creators.

Date
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
What It’s Like To Be a Dog

What if we could actually know what was going on in our pets’ brains? It’s possible, according to neuroscientist Greg Berns. He shares stories about his research with dogs and other animals that reveal that complex intelligence is all around us.

Date
Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Scandinavian Art and Architecture: Modern Aesthetic and Traditional Heart

Scandinavians are renowned internationally for their modern aesthetic and innovations in architecture and design. Explore the creative contributions of the region’s beautiful cities with art historian Karin Alexis. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Write the Stories of Your Ancestors

You’ve gathered information about your ancestors. It’s time to share their stories. Leading genealogy expert John Colletta explores the many ways to assemble and write the saga of a family.

Date
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Christmas with the First Ladies: The Sweetest Traditions

Spend an afternoon with professional decorator and author Coleen Christian Burke as she covers the traditions of White House holiday decorating, brings you behind the scenes as the seasonal transformation takes place, and shares how modern first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama have lent their distinctive styles and creativity to guiding the seasonal themes.

Date
Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 2:00 p.m.
Tea with a Bookseller: Previews of the Newest Children/YA Titles

Washington is home to excellent local bookstores serving every kind of literary taste. In the third installment of a new monthly series in which local booksellers preview upcoming titles, Brennan Baker from A Potter’s House offers top picks among children’s and young adult authors. (Tea, sherry, and cookies round out each session.)

Date
Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 4:00 p.m.
A Renaissance Christmas

Much of how we traditionally visualize of the story of Christ’s birth has been shaped by art created by three centuries of Italian masters. Early-Renaissance specialist Rocky Ruggiero examines some of these moving visual interpretations of the events that define the Christmas season by artists such as Giotto, Simone Martini, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, and Caravaggio. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Monday, December 4, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Dickens Without the Humbug

Follow the life and career of Charles Dickens through the best of times and the worst of times with author Daniel Stashower and actor Scott Sedar, reading from selected works. Then, have a piece of cake and raise a toast to the premier storyteller of the Victorian age. 

Date
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Hannibal's Oath: The Life and Wars of Rome's Greatest Enemy

According to ancient sources, Hannibal was 9 years old when his father dipped the boy's hand in blood and made him swear eternal hatred of Rome. Whether the story is true or not, it’s one of hundreds of legends that have appeared over the centuries about this enigmatic military genius who challenged Rome for mastery of the ancient world. Biographer John Prevas traces Hannibal’s rise, triumphs, downfall, and final exile.

Date
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Indiana Jones, The Eternal Explorer: The Politics of Archaeology, Empires, and Exploration

Using swashbuckling Indiana Jones as both a movie hero and an archetype, Justin M. Jacobs of American University leads a fascinating expedition into real-life and Hollywood-style history that examines the controversies and contexts of archaeology and exploration. This session focuses on "Who Was Indiana Jones?" Part of a 5-session lecture series.

Date
Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Olmec Culture: Monuments, Masterpieces, and Mysteries

More than 30,000 years ago, important centers of Olmec culture flourished along the Gulf of Mexico. George L. Scheper of Johns Hopkins University provides a cultural overview of these achievements, and examines the Olmecs’ relationship and influence on neighboring civilizations. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Early-Renaissance Florence and Siena: Dueling Artistic Traditions

Lisa Baumann, professor of art history at George Mason University, explores the stylistic differences among artists working in the city-states of Florence and Siena at the cusp of the Renaissance. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Unpublished Black History: Rediscovered Images from the New York Times

A cache of photos uncovered in the New York Times archives in 2016 documents  events and personalities that shed light on African American history over the past several decades. Join Darcy Eveleigh, photo editor at the Times, and Rachel Swarns, a contributing writer for the newspaper, for look at these previously unseen photos and the story behind their rediscovery.

Date
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Feynman and Wheeler: A Friendship in Particle Physics

Physicist Paul Halpern examines how the unlikely collaboration of two temperamentally contrasting scientists—Richard Feynman and John Wheeler—laid vital groundwork for late-20th-century breakthroughs that made a lasting impact on physics.

Date
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Hasidism: Lifting the Veil of Obscurity

Rooted in 18th-century Poland, the pietistic movement of Hasidism swept Eastern Europe, was destroyed by World War II, and experienced a dynamic modern renaissance. Three co-authors of a comprehensive new book about the sect discuss their work in chronicling nearly four centuries of intellectual, religious, and social history.

Date
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Indiana Jones, The Eternal Explorer: The Politics of Archaeology, Empires, and Exploration

Using swashbuckling Indiana Jones as both a movie hero and an archetype, Justin M. Jacobs of American University leads a fascinating expedition into real-life and Hollywood-style history that examines the controversies and contexts of archaeology and exploration. This session focuses on "Why Does That Belong in a Museum?" Part of a 5-session lecture series.

Date
Thursday, January 4, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Indiana Jones, The Eternal Explorer: The Politics of Archaeology, Empires, and Exploration

Using swashbuckling Indiana Jones as both a movie hero and an archetype, Justin M. Jacobs of American University leads a fascinating expedition into real-life and Hollywood-style history that examines the controversies and contexts of archaeology and exploration. This session focuses on "Who Enabled Indiana Jones?" Part of a 5-session lecture series.

Date
Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Indiana Jones, The Eternal Explorer: The Politics of Archaeology, Empires, and Exploration

Using swashbuckling Indiana Jones as both a movie hero and an archetype, Justin M. Jacobs of American University leads a fascinating expedition into real-life and Hollywood-style history that examines the controversies and contexts of archaeology and exploration. This session focuses on "Who Confronted Indiana Jones?" Part of a 5-session lecture series.

Date
Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Indiana Jones, The Eternal Explorer: The Politics of Archaeology, Empires, and Exploration

Using swashbuckling Indiana Jones as both a movie hero and an archetype, Justin M. Jacobs of American University leads a fascinating expedition into real-life and Hollywood-style history that examines the controversies and contexts of archaeology and exploration. This session focuses on "Did Hollywood Get It Right?" Part of a 5-session lecture series.

Date
Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Digging Deeper: An Insider’s Look at Field Archaeology

They go out with their shovels and come back with priceless artifacts. If you think that sums up field archaeology, you’ve got another thing coming. From excavating lost cities to an army of Chinese Terracotta warriors, learn a few secrets from a seasoned pro.

Date
Monday, April 23, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.