Lectures & Seminars
Where Harry Met Sally: The Cuisine and Culture of the New York Jewish Deli

Has there ever been a tastier or more beloved institution than the New York Jewish deli? Ted Merwin, associate professor of religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College, discusses the past, present, and future of the deli and its quintessential role in urban Jewish and American life. And of course, there’s a lunch!

Date
Sunday, July 30, 2017 - 12:00 p.m.
Bootleggers, Bathtubs, and Speakeasies: Tales From Prohibition

Get a taste of the 1920s as you sip some iconic period cocktails (Orange Blossom, anyone?) and hear from Philip Greene, co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, and historian and author Garrett Peck how determined drinkers thumbed their noses at the killjoys who tried to turn America dry.

Date
Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
D-Day: Success Against the Odds

Christopher Hamner, an associate professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, explores the experiences of the rank-and-file GIs on D-Day as they endured the chaos and terror of what was, for many, their first experience under fire.

Date
Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Boost Your Nutritional IQ

Is coffee healthful this week, or evil? What’s the difference between good fat and bad? Should we all go gluten-free? Physician John Whyte offers some sensible and solid guidance to counter the confusion when every meal can feel like a nutritional mine field.

Date
Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Art, Power, and Pleasure in Italy’s Renaissance Courts

Art historian Lisa Passaglia Bauman explores Italy’s four northern Renaissance court cities—Ferrara, Urbino, Mantua, and Milan—where artists as famous as Da Vinci and Mantegna, and patrons as notorious as the fearsome Federico da Montefeltro and the elegant Isabella d’Este lived and worked. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, August 5, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Adrenaline Rush: How To Write Suspense Fiction

Nothing quickens the pulse like a good thriller. Award-winning author John Gilstrap presents an informative, entertaining day-long program on the crafting of intelligent suspense fiction. Through lively lectures and writing exercises, students get a peek at the skeleton that gives structure to the stories that keep us reading long into the night.

Date
Saturday, August 5, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Peruvian Cooking: The Ultimate Melting Pot

Peruvian cuisine—which reflects Chinese, Japanese, African, Spanish, and traditional South American influences—offers some of the most deliciously eclectic dishes you’ll ever taste. Carlos Delgado, head chef at China Chilcano, sheds light on its history and flavors in a conversation with Joe Yonan, the Washington Post’s food and dining editor.

Date
Monday, August 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
African Art and the Slave Trade

Art historian Kevin Tervala discusses the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades, with a focus on how African artists—and the societies that they were a part of—reacted to the sudden and brutal disruption and transformation of the world’s second-largest continent. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Inside the World of Diplomacy

Take a rare opportunity to hear first-person stories from men and women whose careers are spent in diplomatic Washington when you spend a day at the American Foreign Service Association and the U.S. Department of State.

Date
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Orange Is the New Black: Why We Love Going Behind Bars

The Netflix series set in fictional Litchfield Penitentiary has become a pop-culture phenomenon as it takes on issues like race, class, sexuality, identity, and the criminal justice system. Stef Woods of American University examines the impact of OITNB and why after five seasons viewers are still making time for the women serving time at Litchfield.

Date
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Cooking Gene: Southern Food’s Deepest Roots

Traditional Southern food is an integral part of our national culinary heritage, yet the question of who "owns" it is linked to wider issues of race, politics, and history. Culinary historian and cook Michael Twitty, a descendant of both African and European ancestors, discusses how he traced the roots of soul food, barbecue, and other staples of Southern cooking—as well as those of his own family.

Date
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Stengel and Durocher: Home Runs and Spitballs

Midcentury baseball was dominated by a pair of brilliant managers whose contrasting styles and personalities made them natural adversaries. Biographers Paul Dickson and Marty Appel join veteran sportscaster Phil Hochberg for a colorful conversation about the good guy/bad guy dynamics between Casey Stengel and Leo Durocher.

Date
Monday, August 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Great Migration

From World War I up through the Civil Rights era, more than 6 million African Americans left the Jim Crow agrarian south for the industrial urban North in a movement known as the Great Migration. Spencer Crew, the former director of the American History Museum and a professor of history at George Mason University, takes an in-depth look at this pivotal movement in America’s history.

Date
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
How Virtual Reality Is Changing Medicine

Although virtual reality can seem like something out of science fiction, the possibilities are virtually limitless in its applications to medicine and health care. Susan Persky of the National Institutes of Health explores how new technologies are opening new worlds—sometimes literally— for doctors, researchers, clinicians, and patients.

Date
Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Patrick Henry: The Forgotten Founding Father

Though he was enormously influential in his time, Patrick Henry’s accomplishments—other than his one great line “Give me liberty or give me death”—were subsequently all but forgotten. Historian Jon Kukla, author of a new biography of Henry, discusses why he finds that obscurity is less then deserved, and why his contributions to the nation’s early years merit more attention.

Date
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Plastics: Separating the Good from the Bad

We have a complicated relationship with plastics: We depend on the material’s convenience and affordability every day, but the overabundance of waste it produces harms the environment. Smithsonian scientists Odile Madden and Pierre Comizzoli discuss how their own work—in museum conservation and research biology, respectively—approaches plastics’ potential and its problems.

Date
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
A DC Theatre Season Preview

With more than 80 professional theaters in the area, how can you tell which companies, directors, and performers should be on your radar for next season? Lorraine Treanor, editor of DC Theatre Scene website, offers plenty of tips and picks to help you fill your theatre-going calendar.

Date
Thursday, August 24, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Tiki Time! Exotic Cocktails and the Cult of the Tiki Bar

In countless restaurants and bars, rum drinks topped with paper umbrellas, “exotic” foods, and fantasy Polynesian décor offered mid-century America’s favorite tropical escape. Martin and Rebecca Cate, founders of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, lead a colorful journey into the lore and legend of tiki culture and its modern revival, and offer samples of their bar’s original cocktail recipes.

Date
Thursday, August 24, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Luciano Pavarotti: King of the High C’s

Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti (1935–2007) was a global superstar who expanded the musical genre’s audience to include millions of people who had never set foot in an opera house. On the tenth anniversary of Pavarotti’s death, opera expert Fred Plotkin provides an intimate portrait of the great Italian tenor.

Date
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
1922—A Literary Watershed

In the opening days of 1922, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster were caught off-balance as the emergence of modernism—and a new kind of expression exemplified by James Joyce’s Ulysses—caused the literary ground to shift. Author Bill Goldstein draws on his new book, The World Broke in Two, to tell how these literary luminaries found their voice again.

Date
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Sharks: On Assignment with Brian Skerry

With his work on view at the exhibition titled Sharks at the National Geographic Museum, award-winning photojournalist Brian Skerry reveals how he captured his amazing images and shares stories of witnessing some of the most beautiful, diverse, and threatened ocean ecosystems on the planet.

Date
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
How YouTube Remade Media

Over the past 10 years, the internet video platform YouTube has changed media and entertainment profoundly. Find out how an upstart company became a modern pop culture juggernaut—and how the new rules of entertainment are being written as the media landscape undergoes radical change.

Date
Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Taiwan’s Famous Night Markets: A Taste of the Exotic on the National Mall

Taiwan’s famous night markets have for centuries been important gathering places for locals. Today they’re becoming tourist meccas for folks who want to experience some of Taiwan’s best street food and shopping opportunities. Learn about the history of this vibrant night-market culture and enjoy tastings of typical night-market fare.

Date
Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Christianity’s Triumph: How Faith Conquered an Empire

How did a movement that began within a small group of illiterate day-laborers in a remote corner of the Roman Empire evolve into the dominant faith of the Western world? Bart Ehrman, a leading authority on early Christianity, the New Testament, and the life of Jesus, explores the religion’s amazing trajectory.

Date
Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The Jazz Age: Rhythms of History

The term Jazz Age conjures colorful images of a flamboyant anything-goes culture that characterized the 1920s. Little wonder that jazz music, with its improvisation syncopation, and strong rhythm was the era’s soundtrack.  Learn about the origins, nature, and legacy of the 1920s—underscored by period jazz recordings, of course—with historian and scholar Michele L. Simms-Burton.

Date
Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
A Day at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In this richly illustrated day-long program, art historian and Dutch art scholar Aneta Georgievska-Shine presents an overview of the museum’s magnificent collection, focusing on some of its greatest masterpieces. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Science in Our Lives

With discoveries in topics from the origins of the universe to the human microbiome rapidly unfolding, science is more important now than ever. Smithsonian Associates’ innovative new Science Literacy Program meets that challenge with an exciting new series of expert-led programming, as well as the opportunity to participate in a lively online learning community.

Date
Monday, September 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
One Life: Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired writers of the 20th century. Curators of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, One Life: Sylvia Plath, present an overview and discuss Plath’s struggle to understand her own self and to navigate the societal pressures placed on young women during the 1950s.

Date
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Capital of Espionage: Washington’s Spy Sites

The trail of espionage in and around the nation's capital traces back more than 200 years to spymaster George Washington’s study at Mount Vernon. This evening, spy histories spanning the Civil War to today are uncovered in true stories that put even the best spy fiction to shame!

Date
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Athens and the Roots of Democracy

Kelcy Sagstetter, assistant professor of history at the United States Naval Academy, explores the fascinating origins of Western democracy and their link to its current iterations.

Date
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Mary, Queen of Scots: Villain or Victim?

On Feb. 8, 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots was executed for treason on the orders of her English cousin, Elizabeth I. It was a tragic end to a turbulent life. Historian Jennifer Paxton explores Mary’s life for an answer to one of history’s enduring questions: Was the queen a martyr or a failed conspirator? 

Date
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Tokyo Revealed: PBS Preview with Darley Newman

Japan’s capital city of Tokyo is one of the most exciting and diverse destinations on the planet. Television host, writer, and producer Darley Newman shares insider’s tips on this fascinating metropolis, which she collected while putting together an upcoming episode for her PBS series “Travels With Darley.” A saké tasting follows the program.

Date
Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Poachers and Piano Keys: Cristian Samper on Elephants and the Ivory Trade

President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society Cristian Samper explains the nuanced issues of elephant poaching, the ivory trade, and the role museums and conservationists play in the protection of elephants and other ivory-producing species.

Date
Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Alaska at 150: The Big Land and the United States

On March 30, 1867, Russia and the United States signed the Treaty of Cession and this country acquired the Alaska Territory, which became, in 1959, our 49th state. In this entertaining and informative all-day program, learn about the early history of Alaska and the role the Smithsonian played in making it part of the U.S. With Alaskan-style lunch.

Date
Saturday, September 16, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Amsterdam in the 17th Century: From Tulip Mania to the New World

Explore the many facets of Amsterdam, which in the 17th century transformed itself into a thriving center for great artists, scientists, writers, and scholars, as well as a hub of banking and finance and religious tolerance.

Date
Monday, September 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Supreme Court: A Preview of the New Term

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.

Date
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Supreme Court: A Preview of the New Term (Afternoon Panel Only)

Spend the afternoon with a panel of top legal experts who will preview the issues that will come before the Supreme Court when the new session begins in October.

Date
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Animals on the Move: Following Digital Footprints

Understanding the forces that set nature in motion is vital as efforts to maintain global diversity, map conservations hotspots, manage human-wildlife conflict, and even monitor the spread of pandemic disease continue to face challenges. Learn about the growing array of technologies, from drones to satellite tracking, that are behind a revolution in animal tracking today.

Date
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Why, Oh Why, Do We Love Paris?: The Timeless Charm of the City of Light

What accounts for the timeless charm of the City of Light? It’s hard to identify the je ne sais quoi that gives Paris its powerful appeal. In an entertaining day-long armchair tour gain insights into the great city on the Seine. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Saturday, September 23, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Myth of the Lost Cause: How Civil War History Was Rewritten

The Southern-created Myth of the Lost Cause has shadowed the historical remembrance of the Civil War, the country's watershed event. Historian Ed Bonekemper critically examines the accuracy of that myth and how it has affected perceptions of slavery, states' rights, and the nature of the conflict itself.

Date
Saturday, September 23, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Moscow’s Haunted House of Government

In conversation with Peter Baker, White House correspondent for the New York Times and former Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post, historian Yuri Slezkine discusses the lives of the Bolshevik true believers who lived in the House of Government, from their conversion to Communism to their children’s loss of political faith and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Date
Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 10:00 a.m.
War of 1812: Out of History’s Shadows

The War of 1812’s significance to the course of American history has long been overshadowed by the conflicts that bookend it: the American Revolution and the Civil War. Historian Richard Bell explains why the War of 1812 was, in fact, nothing short of a watershed event in the young republic’s life.

Date
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Fred Astaire: Dancing with Genius

Film scholar and writer Christine Bamberger uses film clip montages, rare photographs, and original recordings to create a fuller portrait of the immortal Fred Astaire, challenging clichés that have grown up around him and exploring his work as an actor and vocalist, as well as a man who revolutionized dance on film.

Date
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
American Women in Politics: Did Suffrage Matter?

Nearly a century after the 19th Amendment was ratified, it is worth asking whether having the women’s vote has made a significant difference in American politics. Historian Elisabeth Griffith, a biographer of suffrage pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, reviews women’s political engagement from marching for the vote to campaigning for (or against) a woman for president.

Date
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
T.S. Eliot: Daring To Disturb the Universe

September is a time to celebrate the birth of perhaps the greatest 20th-century poet, Thomas Stearns Eliot. To pay tribute to the author of The Wasteland and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, author Daniel Stashower explores Eliot’s life and legacy, and actor Scott Sedar offers dramatic readings of his works. Afterward, we will raise a toast and perhaps even “dare to eat a peach.”

Date
Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Tasting Spain: A Journey Into Cuisine, Culture, and Heritage

Learn about the cultural heritage of Spain in a lively program set in the turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts mansion that once served as the residence of the ambassadors of Spain. With tasting of Spanish regional foods and wines.

Date
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Armistead Maupin: Tales of a Lifetime

Armistead Maupin, the groundbreaking author of the bestselling Tales of the City series, draws on his new book, Logical Family: a Memoir, as he traces his odyssey from the old South to freewheeling San Francisco. Hear him spin tales of the extraordinary individuals and situations that shaped him into one of the most influential writers of the last century.

Date
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Baseball’s First Golden Age

During the sports-crazed ’20s, baseball established itself as the true national pastime—and a modern game entering a golden age. Join John McMurray, chair of the Deadball Era Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research for an examination of how that came about and an evaluation of this remarkable decade of change in baseball history.

Date
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.