Biography & Autobiography Programs
Puccini: A Deeper Look

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) is the most popular of all the operatic masters. Through films and recordings, Saul Lilienstein delves beyond the familiar to examine fascinating aspects of the life, career, and creative genius of this most famed of opera composers. Part of a 6-Session Daytime Course, this session focuses on Puccini's work with Turandot.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 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.

Tuesday, November 28, 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. 

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.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Rilke and Rodin: A Friendship and a Clash of Egos

Author Rachel Corbett examines the vibrant creative world of Paris at the turn of the 20th century as she discusses the connection between the genesis of Carl Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and the young writer’s unlikely but life-changing friendship with Auguste Rodin. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Screenwriter and the Superstar: Frances Marion, Mary Pickford, and The Girls in the Picture

Author Melanie Benjamin discusses her new novel, The Girls in the Picture, the story of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends, screenwriter Frances Marion and silent-movie superstar Mary Pickford.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Chris Matthews on Bobby Kennedy’s Indomitable Spirit

MSNBC’s Hardball anchor Chris Matthews shares an in-depth look at Robert F. Kennedy, a man who was both a pragmatic politician and an idealist who was an inspiration to millions.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist

Gloria Groom of the Art Institute of Chicago examines Gauguin’s radically creative fascination with craft and decorative arts, as reflected in a major new exhibition mounted by the museum. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Celebrating Brahms: The Man, His Music, and His Legacy
6-Session Daytime Course

Saul Lilienstein examines Brahms’ enduring influence and the breadth of his extraordinary output—from symphonies, concertos, and overtures to chamber music, songs, and choral music—in a series of programs highlighted by musical and DVD recordings.

Tuesday, January 30 to March 6, 2018 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The Making of a Monarch: English Kings, Queens, and Their Mums

Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger examines the fascinating relationships of kings and queens and their mothers from the 12th century to today, illustrating that although they didn’t hold official public positions, the women who rocked the royal cradle changed the course of English history.

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The Lives of Benjamin Franklin

Historian Richard Bell explores aspects of the public and private life of America’s favorite Founding Father, tackling his experiences as writer and printer, inventor and philanthropist, husband and father, and reluctant revolutionary.

Saturday, February 10, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.