Lectures & Seminars

Month

  

Programs listed below are in chronological order.



Shifting Power in the Opera House: Creative Dramas, Prima Donnas, and the Evolution of an Art

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Whose voice dominates the world of opera: the composer, librettist, director, conductor, singer, designer, or manager? Saul Lilienstein traces the shifts from one center of artistic power to the next as he covers five centuries of evolution in this most sublime of arts.

Stonehenge Yields Its Secrets: An Ambitious Project Probes the Stone Circle’s Mysteries

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 10 a.m.

The Stonehenge Riverside Project led by archaeologist Michael Parker Pearson has produced a wealth of new information about this mysterious stone circle on Salisbury Plain—and overturned previous theories about its creators, origins, and uses.

Presidential Term Limits: Is Their Time Up?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

In a lively, interactive event, hear presidential and constitutional scholars explore the issue of terms limits, and then decide for yourself: Should presidents be allowed to serve more than two terms?

The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore mixes early women’s-rights activism, pulp comics, an unconventional marriage, and the invention of the lie detector as she traces William Moulton Marston’s creation of the wildly popular female superhero.

Chef Dominique Ansel: Sweet Secrets from a Pastry Master

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Dominique Ansel grabbed the nation’s attention last year with his creation of the Cronut, the croissant-doughnut hybrid. In this conversation with Todd Kliman, dining editor of Washingtonian magazine, Ansel shares the secrets to transforming humble ingredients into the most tempting and satisfying pastries imaginable. Be sure to stay for samples of Ansel’s Christmas Morning Cereal.

An Evening with John Cleese

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Meet the Minister of Silly Walks himself, comic genius John Cleese. Tonight, in an interview with NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” host Scott Simon, he shares the stories behind his success, one laugh at a time.

Existentialism: The Human Search for Meaning

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Francis J. Ambrosio of Georgetown University examines the origins, themes, and influences of the cultural and philosophical movement that grew out of—and helped define—the 20th century.

In Search of the Emerald Isle’s Many Colors

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Discover much more than 50 shades of green when travel writer Reid Bramblett shares tips on the country’s best and sets you on the road to discovering the magic—old and new—found only in Ireland.

Chris Matthews: When Politics Wasn’t Hardball

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 7 p.m.

The television host recalls how his former boss, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, the ultimate Washington insider, forged an unlikely working relationship with Ronald Reagan, his polar opposite.

Istanbul: The World in a City

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

For centuries, Istanbul has been a city where Europe and Asia meet, producing a fabled and fascinating mix of cultures, cuisines, and traditions. Travel writer Nigel Gilchrist opens its wonders.

Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas: Medieval Theologies, Modern Relevance

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Ori Soltes, Goldman professorial lecturer in theology and fine arts at Georgetown University, considers how Maimonides (1135–1204) and Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–74)—two giants of theology—offer parallel yet unique visions and how their thought is remarkably relevant to life in the 21st century.

Florence and Venice: An Artistic Tale of Two Renaissance Cities

Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

This fascinating seminar explores the tale of two cities during the Renaissance—Florence and Venice, rich, confident, magnificently beautiful, and powerhouses of creativity—and the artists they nurtured, including the contrasting geniuses of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Titian.

Making the Most of Your Memory

Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Neurologist Barry Gordon, founder of the Memory Clinic at Johns Hopkins, looks at how memory works and how to sharpen it at any age.

The Black Sea: Civilizations at the Crossroads of Europe and Asia

Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10 a.m.

From antiquity to the present day, the Black Sea has bridged civilizations, continents, empires, religious traditions, and strategic interests. Journey into the past and present of this fascinating region, from Greek explorations to the glories of Ottoman Istanbul to the current issues in Ukraine.

The Delicious World of Charcuterie

Monday, November 17, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Prosciutto...duck confit…pancetta…chorizo sausage…country bacon: They’re all part of one of today’s hottest food trends. Jason Story of Washington’s Three Little Pigs Charcuterie and Salumi offers an inviting overview for both new fans and aficionados.

The “Chicken from Hell” and the Last American Dinosaurs

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

The 500-pound feathered dinosaur dubbed the “Chicken from Hell” was an extraordinary creature. Join one of its discoverers, paleontologist Hans Sues, as he discusses the rich trove of late-Cretaceous-era dinosaurs found in the rocks of the Hell Creek Formation.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

NPR’s Joe Palca returns to the Smithsonian to sit down with stellar scientists for some engaging and entertaining conversations about the exciting work they do and how it connects to our lives. Tonight's program features Eva Emerson and the public's understanding of science. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

Inside Operations: The FBI’s “Ghost Stories” and Other Deep-Cover Cases

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

They’re just ordinary Americans—who answer to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. An FBI historian and counterintelligence staff members uncover how spies become part of the neighborhood.

The Spanish Inquisition

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Amy Leonard, associate professor in the department of history at Georgetown University, discusses the myths and realities of the Spanish Inquisition, from its inception in the 15th century as a heresy court to monitor the Moorish and Jewish converts to Christianity to its part in the “Black Legend” of Spanish imperial history.

1939: Hollywood’s Best Year

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

It was a year that gave us classics including Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and so many movies we love. Learn why 1939 marked the pinnacle of the studio system, and how its films defined a unique cultural moment in America.

Bill Nye: Why Evolution Is Undeniable

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 7 p.m.

After his controversial and widely watched debate with a creationist, scientist educator and television host Bill Nye set off to spread awareness of evolution and the powerful way it shapes our lives. He discusses his new book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, part of that campaign.

How the Criminal Mind Works: Recognizing the Face of the Psychopath

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Forensic behavior expert Mary Ellen O’Toole provides some insights into the minds and behaviors of psychopaths responsible for shocking crimes—on the streets and in the corporate world.

Amazons! Finding the Ancient World’s Real Warrior Women

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Their prowess was the stuff of many cultures’ legends. New archeological discoveries point to evidence that women warriors could actually be found on the battlefield—not just in storytellers’ imaginations.

Dorie Greenspan: Desserts with a French Accent

Friday, November 21, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

In her new book Baking Chez Moi, Dorie Greenspan chronicles the sweet side of her Parisian kitchen adventures, focusing on the what she and her French friends bake at home, the pastries she’s loved from travels through France, and what she’s been inspired to invent and adapt from the city's markets and the country's traditions. 

Pivotal Paintings in the History of Art

Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Over the years, masterworks have appeared that are so bold and revolutionary they forever altered artistic vision. Today, artist and art historian Joseph Cassar analyzes eight such paintings, from Giotto’s Lamentation (1305) to Velazquez’s Las Meninas (1656) and Manet’s Les Dejeuner sur L’Herbe (1863) and considers the impact each has had on the course of art history.

Discover Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories

Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Genealogy expert John Colletta guides you in researching your own family’s history within the broad sweep of European migration to North America. He offers practical tips to deepen your investigation in the records of your ancestors’ native country.

The Norman Invasion of 1066: The Struggle for the Crown and the Future of England

Monday, December 1, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

The Battle of Hastings opened a bitter, centuries-long rivalry between France and England. Historian Mary Frances Giandrea traces the origins of the Norman invasion and the devastating impact of William the Conqueror’s victory.

Celebrating Robert Frost: An American Poet

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Follow an American original down the road less traveled. Author Daniel Stashower explores Frost’s life and legacy, and actor Scott Sedar reads a selection of the poet’s most celebrated works.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

If you’re in a pickle about how to preserve your favorite seasonal produce and local foods, Cathy Barrow, a D.C.-based food writer, can help. Barrow covers kitchen skills including canning, smoking, brining, fermenting, and dehydrating, and shows that all is within the everyday cook’s grasp.

The Enigma of Alan Turing: A Biographer’s Portrait

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

In his acclaimed biography of British mathematician Alan Turing, Andrew Hodges tells how this brilliant man’s concept of a universal machine laid the foundation for the modern computer, and how Turing played a leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II.

The Women of the Wars of the Roses

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger introduces seven powerful women who helped spin and shred the web of conspiracies that blanketed the English throne.

The Surge of the Factions: What's Become of the Vital Center?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 7 p.m.

As the ideological gap between both parties continues to wide, Ken Walsh, U.S. News & World Report’s chief White House correspondent, moderates a spirited panel discussion about the political divide.

Sacred Foods of India

Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Food and travel writer Monica Bhide leads you through the temples, mosques, and gurudwaras of India’s most prominent religions by way of their sacred foods. Then, enjoy a buffet reception prepared by Indique in Cleveland Park.

Secrets of Kennewick Man: The Definitive Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton

Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

When the skeleton of a 9,000-year-old man was discovered in Washington state in 1996, physical anthropologist Douglas Owsley of the Natural History Museum was among the scientists who studied the bones. The discoveries made during that investigation shed dramatic new light on the ancestral origins of some of the early residents of the Pacific Northwest.

The Reconstruction Era, 1865–1877: The Struggle To Mend a Nation

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

As the 150th anniversary of the Reconstruction era approaches, historian Michael Ross considers how this tumultuous chapter in our history redefined the rights of all Americans.

Van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

In this richly illustrated seminar, art historian Bonita Billman explores the lives and careers of van Gogh and other notable artists in Paris and their depictions of the celebrities and scenes of everyday life in Montmartre—the night life and low life of a bohemian world.

Cultural Capitals of Former East Germany

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the cities of Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar, and East Berlin have emerged renewed, vigorous, and ready to make their mark once again on the world stage. Explore the history, culture, and sites of these cities in an illustrated seminar led by cultural and music historian Carol Reynolds.

Holiday Decorating, White House Style

Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 2 p.m.

Spend an afternoon with professional holiday decorator 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 some practical tips on how you can make your own holiday home reflect the sparkle of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward on The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

Monday, December 8, 2014 at 7 p.m.

The Roosevelts stand apart from American dynasties of the past and present in terms of their political and personal impact on our nation. Filmmaker Ken Burns and writer Geoffrey C. Ward, collaborators on a new PBS series and companion book, discuss how they crafted their portraits of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt to capture both their larger-than-life public personas and the private lives that shaped them as individuals.

A New Journey Through A Christmas Carol: Dickens’ Message for 19th-Century America

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of the most beloved and widely known pieces of holiday literature. Learn how the classic English tale also mirrors a time when our country was undergoing rapid transformation and needed guidance and reassurance.

John McCain Presents Thirteen Soldiers

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

Senator John McCain discusses his evocative history of Americans at war, told through the personal accounts of 13 remarkable men and women who fought in conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Secret Societies of the Ancient World

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

The deities of ancient Greece and Rome held sway over followers who gathered in secret societies organized in their honor. Classicist Frederick Winter examines the rites and beliefs of several of the major cults, and finds echoes of these pagan groups in another once-secret group of worshippers: early Christians.

How the Hollywood Western Shaped America: From Stagecoach to Django Unchained

Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

Saddle up for an entertaining and insightful look at the landscape of the Hollywood Western and trace its progression from early sagebrush melodramas to films that explore complex stories, history, and core American values.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

NPR’s Joe Palca returns to the Smithsonian to sit down with stellar scientists for some engaging and entertaining conversations about the exciting work they do and how it connects to our lives. Tonight's program features John Mather and the origins of the universe. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

Rasputin: The Man Who Wouldn’t Die

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

It took cyanide, bullets, and the freezing waters of the Neva River to end the life of Rasputin on December 29, 1916. What hasn’t ended are the controversies over who actually carried out the murder—and the reasons behind it. Ralph Nurnberger examines if new research finally provides the answers.

Serenity in Stone and Sand: Karesansui Gardens of Japan

Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

The interplay of natural elements produces a spare but eloquent beauty in karesansui gardens designed for calm and reflection. Landscape architect and writer Marc Peter Keane traces the origins, symbolism, and spiritual aspects of this Japanese gardening tradition that has been embraced the world over.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

NPR’s Joe Palca returns to the Smithsonian to sit down with stellar scientists for some engaging and entertaining conversations about the exciting work they do and how it connects to our lives. Tonight's program features Carol Greider and molecular biology. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

The Art of Seeing Art: Enhancing Your Visual Vocabulary

Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Like any language, art has its own vocabulary—one in which you discover more meaning and gratification as your fluency increases. Spend a day expanding your understanding of how art communicates, how to analyze and interpret it, and how to see in a cultural context. (World Art History Certificate elective)

The Delights of Costa Rica

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

Set off with biodiversity specialist Bob Szaro on a virtual tour of Costa Rica that takes in its mountains, tropical forests, beaches, and wildlife—all part of the mix of elements that define this land of “pura vida,” or “pure life.”

The Art of Stamp Design

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

You’ve likely had her work in your hands—and on your cards and letters. Now meet art director Ethel Kessler, who designed more than 300 beautiful stamps for the US Postal Service, including the now-iconic Breast Cancer Awareness stamp.

Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life, His Work, His Legacy

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Architecture and urban studies lecturer Bill Keene offers a portrait of a complex innovator whose life encompassed acclaim and triumph as well as scandal and tragedy. Tom Wright, the architect’s grandson, provides a look at the joys and challenges of living in and maintaining a Wright-designed house in Bethesda. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Medieval England Through Its Art and Archaeology

Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Art historian Lawrence Butler illuminates the history of England from the 7th to 14th centuries by examining treasures from a buried ship, the illuminated Lindsfarne Gospels, the Bayeux Tapestry, and majestic Canterbury Cathedral. (World Art History Certificate elective)

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

NPR’s Joe Palca returns to the Smithsonian to sit down with stellar scientists for some engaging and entertaining conversations about the exciting work they do and how it connects to our lives. Tonight's program features Anthony Fauci and global health. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

Behind the Science with Joe Palca: Insights from Scientific Innovators

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

NPR’s Joe Palca returns to the Smithsonian to sit down with stellar scientists for some engaging and entertaining conversations about the exciting work they do and how it connects to our lives. Tonight's program features Seth Miller and marine biology. Part of a 5-Session Lecture Series.

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