Lectures & Seminars



Programs listed below are in chronological order.

Preserving with Mrs. Wheelbarrow: Briny, Tart Pickles

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Imagine your pantry shelves filled with jars of home-made delights made from fresh seasonal produce. Cathy Barrow, author of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, is ready to teach you all the canning and preserving tricks you need to make that a reality. This is the second session of a 4-session program.

Say Cheese!

Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Conan O’Sullivan of DC’s Sona Creamery explores the long global history of cheese-making, cheese production globally and locally, and what turns a good cheese into a great one.

Say Cheese!

Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Includes Cheese-Making Workshop: Conan O’Sullivan of DC’s Sona Creamery explores the long global history of cheese-making, cheese production globally and locally, and what turns a good cheese into a great one. Later, observe the craft of cheesemaking at a lively workshop.

Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for All the Notes

Saturday, July 11, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Was there anything in the musical world that Leonard Bernstein couldn’t do? Saul Lilienstein, who studied conducting and frequently performed with him, explores his achievements from Broadway hits to symphonic works and offers a personal perspective on the larger-than-life maestro.

The Phantom Tollbooth: A Celebration of a Classic with Author Norton Juster and Bill Harley

Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 3 p.m.

Travel to the Lands Beyond in the company of author Norton Juster and singer-storyteller Bill Harley as they reflect on the beloved book’s enduring relevance. A screening of a new documentary about the making of the classic tale adds to the fun.

Dumplings: A Global Wrap and Savory Culinary History

Monday, July 13, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

From North and South America to Europe, Africa, and Asia, the dumpling has become synonymous with comfort food. Find out from food expert Barbara Gallani how this simple dish has inspired songs, poems, and even monuments. And then, sample dumplings from around the world.

Wacky Health Claims: Can We Believe Them?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

John Whyte, a physician, author, and former chief medical expert at Discovery Channel, helps you learn how to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the latest outrageous health claims—and decide whether they are true or just plain wacky.

Dr. Seuss, American Icon: The Legacy of Theodor Seuss Geisel

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

As the beloved Dr. Seuss, writer and illustrator Theodor Geisel taught generations of children to read—as well as to think. With a recently rediscovered book set to be published this summer, it’s the perfect time to join Seuss scholar Philip Nel for a look at Geisel’s life and work.

The Secret to the French Joy of Living? It Begins in the Home Kitchen

Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

After living in France for 25 years, author and cooking teacher Susan Herrmann Loomis knows the traditions and techniques that home cooks depend on to produce the simple but delicious everyday meals that make French kitchens (and dining rooms) the envy of the world.

Art Nouveau: New Style for a New Century

Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Though it flowered only briefly in the early years of the last century, art nouveau has had a long-lasting influence and popularity. Art historian Bonita Billman explores the movement’s organic, sinuous, and seductive styles. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Revisiting To Kill a Mockingbird

Monday, July 20, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has become an iconic novel since it was published in 1960, yet its author, by her own choice, has remained out of the spotlight. Her biographer Charles J. Shields revisits the classic book and takes a closer look at the mysterious writer behind it.

A Fiddler on the Roof Sing-Along

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

It takes a village like Anatevka (or perhaps DC) to bring the songs from the beloved Broadway show to life. L’chaim!

Turkish Delights: In Search of Unique Destinations

Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The map of Turkey is studded with secret places to discover, and Serif Yenen, a tour guide, guidebook author, and filmmaker, can get you ready to set off on some fascinating paths.

Anatolia: A Turkish Odyssey

Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Anatolia’s ancient ruins, ornate Byzantine churches, supremely elegant mosques, and splendid Ottoman palaces are witnesses to a colorful history. Serif Yenen, a Turkish tour guide, guidebook author, and filmmaker, leads a cultural journey that spans the centuries.

Bringing the Etruscans Into View

Monday, July 27, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Since no written Etruscan literature, history, or philosophy survives, what we know about this enigmatic ancient civilization comes from its art. Art historian Renee Gondek traces the clues to a lost world found in its stunning visual achievements. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Whether seen in rain or sunshine, the Paris depicted in Gustave Caillebotte’s paintings is a place full of vibrant and alluring urban life. Mary Morton, curator of a new National Gallery exhibition of Caillebotte’s works, explores some of his most powerful and surprising images. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Sir Richard Burton, Victorian Rebel Explorer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The description swashbuckler seems tailor-made for this Victorian-era explorer, whose expeditions to the African continent opened up not only new geographic realms, but cultural inquiries into religion, race, and sexuality. His biographer Dane Kennedy introduces the colorful—and sometimes controversial—adventurer. Part of the Uncharted Territory: Great Expeditions and the Trailblazers Who Led Them series.

Herodotus: Father of History

Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Historian, prescient political analyst, and insightful proto-anthropologist, Herodotus chronicled a vivid depiction of ancient civilization. Classicist Frederick Winter examines Herodotus’ writings and what they reveal about the man and his world.

Brazil’s Buildup to the Olympics

Monday, August 3, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Luis Fernandes, Brazil’s former deputy minister of sports, offers an insider’s perspective on how his sports-obsessed country is preparing for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics—and how the games will transform it.

When Art and Math Mix It Up: A New Theory of Symmetry

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Welcome to the always-intriguing intersection of mathematics and art. In an evening filled with mind-blowing symmetrical images as well as some complex numbers, Frank Farris introduces the mathematics of symmetry and demonstrates how to create patterns from continuous waveforms.

Forensic Anthropologist Kathy Reichs: A Winning Way with “Bones”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Bestselling author and respected forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has found the perfect blend of her work and her art. Tonight, she discusses the challenges of translating real-life drama into the stuff of fiction, and a career that includes work on high-profile cases even she couldn’t make up.

Voices in the Ocean: The Nature of Dolphins

Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Author Susan Casey dives into our fascination with the beautiful and intelligent creatures of the sea that provide the focus of her latest book.

The Best of Barbecue: It’s Smokin’!

Saturday, August 8, 2015 at 12 p.m.

Jason Story of Washington’s Straw, Stick, and Brick Delicatessen knows why we love barbecue. He covers its regional traditions, techniques, and home-kitchen tips, then serves up a meal for some real hands-on exploration.

Exploring the Literary South

Monday, August 10, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Come along on this tour of the literary South to discover the landmarks a host of noted writers—from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Thomas Wolfe—immortalized in their novels. Conclude your evening of Southern reveries with a frosty mint julep or a delightful sweet tea, Southern style.

Inside the World of Diplomacy

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 10 a.m.

Take a rare opportunity to get answers from the men and women whose careers are spent in diplomatic Washington as you go inside the American Foreign Service Association and the U.S. Department of State.

Science Among the Stars: The History of Space Stations

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Veteran astronaut Don Thomas takes us on a virtual tour of the International Space Station now in orbit, for a glimpse of what it’s like aboard a laboratory adrift in space. He also considers the roles space stations and space colonies may play in the future.

Voltaire for the 21st Century

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Voltaire’s 1763 Treatise on Tolerance, a cry against religious fanaticism, surged in sales in France after the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Jennifer Tsien of the University of Virginia discusses why the writer’s philosophy still speaks to us—and grows more relevant across the centuries.

Lessons in Secret Diplomacy: Approaching Cuba Through Back Channels

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Authors William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh explore the decades of secret back-door diplomacy that preceded the most recent official steps in changing the chilly and suspicious relationship between the United States and Cuba.

Year of Light Night

Sunday, August 16, 2015 at 4 p.m.

In case you’ve been in the dark about this, 2015 is the International Year of Light. To help celebrate this cosmic gift, astrophysicist Anna M. Quider leads a Year of Light tribute focusing on its influence in history, science, art, and culture, followed by trivia challenges, refreshments, and light-hearted fun!

Where the Andes Meets the Amazon: An Ecological Tour of Peru

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Enrique Ortiz, vice president and co-founder of the Amazon Conservation Association, paints a picture of Peru—one of the world’s most diverse regions—from the coastline, desert, and Andes mountains to the Amazonian rainforest.

A DC Theatre Season Preview

Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Lorraine Treanor, editor of the website DC Theatre Scene, offers the inside scoop on what’s promising, what’s risky, and what might not be worth the ticket price in the promising and packed year ahead in local theatre.

Sculpture in the Age of Impressionism: Rodin, Degas, and Rosso

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

David Gariff, senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art and an adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America, explores the life and work of three seminal artists working against the 19th-century backdrop of new and changing artistic theories. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Oaxaca: Crossroads of a Continent

Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Scholar George Scheper surveys Oaxaca’s rich cultural history over the centuries, from the domestication of maize corn more than 10,000 years ago to the emergence of Oaxaca as a contemporary arts center today.

Understanding Architecture: Structure and Symbols

Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

In their designs and purposes, Stonehenge, a medieval cathedral, and the new One World Trade Center are worlds apart—in more way in one. Lisa Passaglia Bauman, an assistant professor of art history at George Mason University, reveals the timeless structural language that unites these and other iconic works of architecture. (World Art History Certificate elective)

The Supreme Court: A Preview of the New Term

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 10 a.m.

Spend a morning getting a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Supreme Court—including the courtroom where cases are argued. Then, a panel of top legal experts previews the issues that will come before the court when the new session begins in October.

Preserving with Mrs. Wheelbarrow: Putting Up Tomatoes

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Imagine your pantry shelves filled with jars of home-made delights made from fresh seasonal produce. Cathy Barrow, author of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, is ready to teach you all the canning and preserving tricks you need to make that a reality. This is the third session of a 4-session program.

Blue Spy vs. Gray Spy: Secrets of Civil War Espionage

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The Civil War produced innovations in snooping that would change the way intelligence was gathered. Clayton Laurie, a historian at the Central Intelligence Agency, examines how this bloody conflict became a battle of wits as well as strength as both sides used new intelligence techniques that influenced the outcomes of key battles.

Understanding Grand Strategy: National Policies, Historical Contexts

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

What insights into current domestic and international issues can the histories of great powers offer us? Marcus Jones, professor of history at the United States Naval Academy, discusses the concept of grand strategies in eras that span ancient Rome, the British Empire, and the Cold War.

Sake: Japanese Culture in a Cup

Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

“Sake Samurai” Timothy Sullivan leads a tasty introduction to the world of premium sake, a libation the Japanese call the drink of the gods.

Travels with Casanova: An Artistic Itinerary

Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Art historian C. D. Dickerson highlights the sweep of Casanova’s life by setting it against the visual backdrop of his world, which extended beyond his native Venice to major cultural centers from Madrid to Moscow. How can the art of his day illuminate our understanding of this serial seducer?

A Method in the Madness: Searching for Sense in Unreason

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Across the centuries, forms of mental disturbance have frightened, fascinated, and haunted us—and in many cases, sparked the creative imaginations of great artists. Author Andrew Scull traces the long and complex history of unreason and our attempts to understand it.

Rome’s Via Pia: A Hidden Gem of a Street

Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Wander along with Rome expert George Sullivan as he leads you down one of Rome’s most beautiful streets. It’s one that bursts with the beauty of baroque churches and other architectural wonders—rather than tourists.

Percy Fawcett: In Search of El Dorado

Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

In 1925 British explorer Percy Fawcett launched his final—and fatal—expedition into the depths of the Amazon to find a legendary city of gold. Writer David Grann tells the tale of that doomed adventure, and of his own journey along the explorer’s path. Part of the Uncharted Territory: Great Expeditions and the Trailblazers Who Led Them series.

An Evening with Bud Selig, Baseball Commissioner Emeritus

Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

After 22 years at the helm of America’s pastime, Bud Selig has plenty of great stories to tell about baseball’s boom years—and a few about the challenges he and the sport faced. He joins a panel of sports media pros including USA Today’s Christine Brennan, Washington Post's Barry Svrluga, and attorney/sportscaster Phil Hochberg for an evening sure to hit a home run with fans.

Lyn Paolo on Designing Scandal: Costume Design for Capitol Intrigue

Friday, September 25, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Emmy Award-winning designer Lyn Paolo is the genius behind the hit series that generates as much buzz for Kerry Washington’s wardrobe as its twists-and-turns depiction of the DC political scene. She talks to the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan about designing Washington fashions that any Hill power broker would gladly plot to wear.

Jean Sibelius: 150 Years Young

Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Cellist Yvonne Caruthers offers an in-depth musician’s perspective on the life and work of the Finnish national musical hero whose compositions span genres from Christmas carols to pioneering minimalist pieces.

Grammatical Gaffes: A Linguist Looks at Some Pet Peeves

Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.

Between you and I, do people that impact you negatively literally drive you up the wall? If that sentence sets your teeth on edge, you’ve got a lot in common with linguist Anne Curzan, who casts a (figurative) critical eye on today’s most prevalent lapses in grammar in a lively and informative seminar.

Coloring Books: No Longer Just Child’s Play

Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 2 p.m.

Gorgeous coloring books designed to melt away grown-up stress have struck gold (and blue and green and magenta) on the best-seller lists. Art therapist and coloring book author Lacy Mucklow explains why so many adults are returning to a once-favorite pastime.

En Garde! The Art of Fight Choreography

Monday, September 28, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Professional fight director Robb Hunter demonstrates how stage and screen performers get the upper hand (or knife or sword or gun) in exciting and realistic clashes that don’t actually put them in danger. Front-row seats are optional. 

Foraging Through America’s Culinary History

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Libby H. O’Connell, History Channel’s chief historian, serves up a savory history of American food filled with historical nuggets, strange delicacies of yesteryear, and the familiar dishes we love in her new book The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. Dig in!

The Joys of Traveling Alone: How to Boldly Go Solo

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 7 p.m.

For many vacationers, the road less traveled (and more enjoyed) is one that’s navigated alone. Travel writer Ellen Perlman extols the fun and freedom of planning an itinerary for one.

Lerner and Loewe: Musical Champagne

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

American music specialist Robert Wyatt raises a toast to the romance, sparkle, and wit of songs by the creators of My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, Camelot, and other classic shows.

Denmark’s Defiance: Protecting a Nation’s Jews in WWII

Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

When Denmark’s Jewish population faced arrest and deportation in 1943, their fellow citizens provided an extraordinary rebuke to Hitler by smuggling almost all of them out of the country. Ralph Nurnberger of Georgetown University tells the story of this national act of courage.

Preserving with Mrs. Wheelbarrow: Sweet, Hot, and Abundant Chiles

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Imagine your pantry shelves filled with jars of home-made delights made from fresh seasonal produce. Cathy Barrow, author of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, is ready to teach you all the canning and preserving tricks you need to make that a reality. This is the final session of a 4-session program.

Haunted: Remembering Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

On the 166th anniversary of his death, the original “man in black” gets a literary toast from writer Daniel Stashower and actor Scott Sedar. Raise your glass along with them.

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