Lectures & Seminars
The Ghosts of Langley: How the CIA’s Leaders Shaped the Agency

The Central Intelligence Agency is an organization whose operations are necessarily cloaked in secrecy. Through a critical examination of CIA leaders past and present, John Prados, a senior fellow of the National Security Archive, offers a window into the workings of the world of Langley and the nature of the men who charted its direction.

Date
Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Old Vines, New Wines: The Resurgence of American Heritage Grapes

Jerry Eisterhold of Vox Vineyards in Missouri offers insights into how winemakers are meeting the scientific and technical challenges of reclaiming the commercial viability of rare American grapes, highlighted by an in-depth guided tasting of nine of Vox’s wines.

Date
Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 2:00 p.m.
Tea with a Bookseller: Previews of the Newest Literary Fiction Titles

Washington is home to excellent local bookstores serving every kind of literary taste. In the final installment of a new monthly series in which local booksellers preview upcoming titles, Rebecca Oppenheimer from Kramerbooks scouts the best in literary fiction. (Tea, sherry, and cookies round out each session.)

Date
Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 4:00 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.

Date
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Inside Camp David

Invitations to the exclusive presidential getaway deep in the woods of Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains go only to a select few, while the rest of us have been left to wonder, “What is Camp David really like?” Michael Giorgione, a retired naval officer who served as commander there under two presidents, offers the answer as he discusses his new book about the history-filled retreat.

Date
Tuesday, January 23, 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.

Date
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)

Date
Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
"Who Are You?": How Passports Changed Travel—and the Idea of Identity

Craig Robertson, author of The Passport in America: The History of a Document, traces the evolution of the most essential marker of identity for travelers. From its roots in 18th-century letters of introduction to chip-enhanced contemporary versions, he examines how this sometimes-controversial document became rooted in our lives.

Date
Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Scotland and England: An Imperfect Union?

Historian Jennifer Paxton explores the remarkable story of the struggle to define Scottish identity over the past thousand years, as the country went from proudly independent kingdom to junior partner within Great Britain to a nation considering its politically autonomous future.

Date
Saturday, January 27, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Expressionism: The Art of Emotions

Influenced by the early 20th century’s explorations of human behavior, artists looked to their own experiences and emotions as the spark for works. Artist and art historian Joseph Paul Cassar examines the movement that grew from that psychological shift, tracing expressionism’s roots, meaning, influences, and notable practitioners. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, January 27, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Discovering Lombardy

Stunning architecture, centuries of glorious art, and cuisine celebrated around the world: Lombardy has it all. Food historian Francine Segan offers a guide to the cultural heritage and attractions of this northern Italian magnet for travelers—and a taste of some authentic regional specialties.

Date
Monday, January 29, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
1968: The Tumultuous Year That Changed America

War, assassinations, riots, political and social upheavals, and national anxieties: 1968 was packed with them all. Author, journalist, and historian Ken Walsh reviews the extraordinary events of a year Americans of a certain age will never forget—and that holds lessons to remember in the face of contemporary turmoils.

Date
Tuesday, January 30, 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.
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.

Date
Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Olive Oil: In Search of Liquid Gold

Join Curtis Cord, president of the New York International Olive Oil Competition and publisher of Olive Oil Times, for a fascinating (and delicious) day that examines the history, varieties, and complexities of olive oils from around the world. You’ll never think of that bottle of extra-virgin on your kitchen counter in the same way.

Date
Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Ulysses S. Grant: The Embattled President

President Ulysses S. Grant was as controversial in politics as he was in the military. Historian Charles W. Calhoun offers a fresh look at this oft-criticized presidency and offers insight into how Grant navigated another treacherous battleground.

Date
Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 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, February 10, 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.

Date
Saturday, February 10, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
3D Printing: Medicine’s New Dimension

From architecture and fashion to STEM education, 3D printing has begun to revolutionize so many areas of our lives. Hear from two experts from the National Institutes of Health about how scientists are tapping into the technology’s potential in the new field of biomedical research.

Date
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Abraham Lincoln’s Ghosts: A Reckoning in the Bardo

What happens when, under cover of darkness, a grief-stricken President Lincoln slips out of the White House alone on Feb. 22, 1862, on a highly personal mission? Author George Saunders provides some answers in an entertaining evening that includes readings from his new book, Lincoln in the Bardo.

Date
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Most Famous Address in Washington: Perspectives on White House History

In this 4-session lecture series, noted specialists explore architecture, music, gardens, and art at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—a place where every decision, no matter how innocuous, has political ramifications. Participants receive a copy of each speaker’s corresponding large-format book published by the White House Historical Association. This session focuses on White House architecture.

Date
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Galápagos: Evolution and Ecology in the Enchanted Islands

The Galápagos Archipelago has served as a pirate haven, a center for whaling, and, today, as a national park of Ecuador. But it’s the islands’ amazingly rich and diverse ecosystem and importance in the study of evolution that has earned the Galapagos a special place among the great wonders of the natural world.

Date
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Mindfulness: A Path to Freedom and Well-Being

A daylong exploration of mindfulness examines its Buddhist origins, benefits, and role in changing harmful habits, and provides skills and practices to use in daily life.

Date
Saturday, February 17, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Trials: History and Legacy

In 1945, the victors of World War II took the unprecedented step to hold the vanquished leaders of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan responsible for criminal acts of war, including torture and systematic murder.  In this riveting program, explore the history and legacy of these trials.

Date
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Wallis in Love: Andrew Morton on the Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor

Wallis Simpson—the infamous “woman I love” for whom Edward VIII abdicated his throne—continues to fascinate us. Historical biographer Andrew Morton draws on his new book to offer insights into the personality and motivations of a complex and controversial American who changed the course of the monarchy.

Date
Tuesday, February 20, 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.
The Rise of the Synagogue in Jewish Life

According to the New Testament, Jesus and Paul preached in synagogues. But two thousand years ago, the Jerusalem Temple was the focal point of the Jewish religion. Archaeologist Jodi Magness explores the origins of the synagogue and its evolving role in religious Jewish life in the centuries after the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D.

Date
Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Opera: Inside the Music—An Unintimidating Guide to the Art

Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop and pianist Ken Weiss examine the building blocks of opera in a fascinating day equally suited to those who want an introduction to the art and to fans looking to deepen their understanding of the form’s nuts and bolts. Performances by singers from the Potomac Vocal Institute enhance this exploration of opera’s musical and theatrical foundations.

Date
Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
A Red-Carpet Night with Oscar

As awards night nears, join film writer Noah Gittell for an evening that focuses on all things Oscar. The movie-inspired fun includes history and trivia, a predictions contest, and a chance to join some screen legends (appearing courtesy Madame Tussauds) for photos on the red carpet.

Date
Monday, February 26, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Strange and Curious Smithsonian Jobs: Dove and Crowe—Their Work Is For the Birds

Smithsonian’s experts really do have some of the most curious specialties, which will be highlighted in an occasional “behind-the-scenes” series Strange and Curious Smithsonian Jobs. To kick things off, meet two scientists who study birds in unexpected ways.

Date
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Take an Elemental Journey: A Guided Tour of the Periodic Table of Elements

The Periodic Table of Elements organizes the essential building blocks of matter in our universe. Join award-winning science educators Callan Bentley and Piraba Swaminathan as they introduce the chemical elements that populate the Periodic Table's columns and rows, and hear their fascinating stories.

Date
Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Great Suffrage March of 1913: The Final Push for the 19th Amendment

When more than 5,000 suffragists and supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural, they made history—and marked a newly energized phase of a decades-long fight. Join author Rebecca Boggs Roberts as she traces the heroic struggle of suffrage leader Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party as they worked to earn the vote.

Date
Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Great Suffrage March of 1913: The Final Push for the 19th Amendment with Morning Tour

When more than 5,000 suffragists and supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural, they made history—and marked a newly energized phase of a decades-long fight. Join author Rebecca Boggs Roberts as she traces the heroic struggle of suffrage leader Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party as they worked to earn the vote. Includes a morning walking tour on March 2.

Date
Program: Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Tour: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Great Suffrage March of 1913: The Final Push for the 19th Amendment with Morning Tour

When more than 5,000 suffragists and supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural, they made history—and marked a newly energized phase of a decades-long fight. Join author Rebecca Boggs Roberts as she traces the heroic struggle of suffrage leader Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party as they worked to earn the vote. Includes a morning walking tour on March 3.

Date
Program: Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Tour: Saturday, March 3, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Enchanting Ireland: A Visual Journey

Christopher Griffin, a Smithsonian Journeys expert, highlights the history, culture, and beauty of Ireland, offering an intimate portrait of a fabled nation. At the conclusion of the day, raise a glass of “the water of life”—authentic Irish whiskey.

Date
Saturday, March 3, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Dinner at Supra: Welcome to DC’s First Georgian Restaurant

One of the recent additions to the District’s food scene is Supra, the first restaurant to feature the food of the Republic of Georgia. Experience this centuries-old cuisine at a family-style private dinner, meet the chef, and get cultural and historical insights into Georgia’s food traditions from a representative of the Central-Asia Caucasus Institute.

Date
Monday, March 5, 2018 - 6:30 p.m.
Facing Fear

Why do our bodies and minds react the way they do when we’re in danger? Joseph LeDoux, a professor of science at New York University, discusses the impact of recent research into the neurological and emotional roots of fear, and why it might change our pharmacological and behavioral approaches to helping people reframe this emotion.

Date
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Strange and Curious Smithsonian Jobs: Ear Wax and Glitter Poop

Go behind the scenes to hear from scientists who use samples from Smithsonian collections to trace the last 110 years of ocean contaminants and the life histories of baleen whales, and one who monitors the fluctuating hormone levels in some of your favorite zoo residents through a unique method. 

Date
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Lessons From the Great Books of Science

In this all-day seminar, explore the works of the great scientist-writers—from those of Hippocrates, Plato, and Aristotle through 20th-century classics in biology, physics, and cosmology—that moved scientific development forward over the centuries.

Date
Saturday, March 10, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sapporo-Style Ramen: A Regional Rage

Japanese foodies take their ramen—which boasts more than 30 regional variations—very seriously. The team behind D.C.’s popular Bantam King, Daikaya, and Haikan restaurants explore the essentials of Sapporo-style ramen, how they prepare it, and how best to enjoy it. Then, get a taste of your own when you sit down for lunch at Haikan.

Date
Saturday, March 10, 2018 - 10:00 a.m.
Art Treasures of Berlin: Lost, Destroyed, Recovered

Art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine focuses on some of world’s most noted Old Master paintings and sculptures and their fates during and after World War II in a city that has once again become one of the top art destinations of Europe. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Monday, March 12, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Conservative Legacy of William F. Buckley Jr.

The political philosophy—and personality—of William F. Buckley Jr. were significant forces in shaping a uniquely American conservatism that reached its apex of influence in the election of Ronald Reagan. Presidential historian Alvin Felzenberg considers what Buckley’s movement achieved and what may befall it in the age of Trump.

Date
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Most Famous Address in Washington: Perspectives on White House History

In this 4-session lecture series, noted specialists explore architecture, music, gardens, and art at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—a place where every decision, no matter how innocuous, has political ramifications. Participants receive a copy of each speaker’s corresponding large-format book published by the White House Historical Association. This session focuses on White House art.

Date
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The King James Bible: Its Background, Creation, and Influence

The King James Bible of 1611 is one of the most influential books in the English language. Learn about the creation of this landmark translation—the culmination of a long and often unquiet history of the Bible in English dating back as far as 1000 A.D.

Date
Saturday, March 17, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The Potomac: Rolling Through DC’s History and Heart

Spend a day with a variety of experts who examine the Potomac’s rich legacy, geology, and wildlife, following its course through hundreds of years of history from the region’s early inhabitants to the latest in conservation technology.

Date
Sunday, March 18, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
America: The Great Cookbook, What DC Chefs Cook for the People They Love

Join the Washington Post’s Joe Yonan as he gathers four local food-world contributors to his new cookbook for a tasty discussion of what cooking in America means today. And of course, the evening features samples of the panelists’ favorite recipies.

Date
Monday, March 19, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Women in Islam: Ideals and Realities

Islamic scholar Zeyneb Sayilgan sheds light on the status of women in the Islamic tradition and analyzes why and how the lived realities of Muslim women at times contradict the religious ideals. 

Date
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Savonarola: The Moral Dictator of Florence

How could a lowly Florentine preacher almost singlehandedly overthrow the mighty Medici family at the height of the Renaissance? Historian Janna Bianchini traces how the fiery Girolamo Savonarola upended the civic and cultural norms of a great city and installed himself as the head of a ruthless, ruling theocracy.

Date
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Caravaggio: Theater and Light

Art historian Nigel McGilchrist follows Caravaggio’s life and development as a painter, and traces his indelible influence on artists including Goya, Bernini, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Thursday, March 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.
The Vatican Collection: The Heart of Europe’s Artistic Legacy

The Church of Rome has been the single greatest patron of art and architecture in European history. Art historian Nigel McGilchrist looks at the Vatican’s magnificent collection of paintings and antiquities, which comprise an ensemble with an importance unique in the world. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, March 24, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The Juedischer Kulturbund: Keeping the Arts Alive in Nazi Germany

Though under severe Nazi government restrictions, in the 1930s, many Jewish artists expelled from German institutions found an outlet to reach Jewish audiences through the Kulturbund, the Culture League of German Jews. Historian Michael Brennner examines the Kulturbund’s achievements and the opportunities and dilemmas it brought for a persecuted minority under an authoritarian regime.

Date
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Grant Wood: Beyond American Gothic

A new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art reveals Grant Wood as a complex, sophisticated artist whose image as a farmer-painter was as mythical as the fables he depicted in his art. Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant at the museum offers an overview of the exhibition and insights into lesser-known aspects of Wood’s life and career. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Artistic Legacy of Byzantium

The interplay of imperial ambitions, luxury, and faith are reflected in the sumptuous art and architecture of the Eastern Roman Empire under Christian rule. Art historian Lawrence Butler explores Byzantium’s greatest contributions to world art and considers its legacy in today’s Orthodox Christian world. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, April 7, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend

The narwhal, with its unique spiral tusk, has inspired legend in Inuit society and fascinated people across cultures for centuries. During a day that includes a private tour of an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, join experts from a variety of fields to dive deep into the lore and the natural history of these striking animals.

Date
Saturday, April 7, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
African Art and the Struggle for Independence

The story of African liberation in the mid-20th century is as much about painters and sculptors as it is about politicians and soldiers. Art historian Kevin Tervala examines the critical role that artists played in mobilizing populations, organizing international support, and developing national pride and identity. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Monday, April 9, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
The Most Famous Address in Washington: Perspectives on White House History

In this 4-session lecture series, noted specialists explore architecture, music, gardens, and art at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—a place where every decision, no matter how innocuous, has political ramifications. Participants receive a copy of each speaker’s corresponding large-format book published by the White House Historical Association. This session focuses on White House gardens.

Date
Thursday, April 19, 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.
The Most Famous Address in Washington: Perspectives on White House History

In this 4-session lecture series, noted specialists explore architecture, music, gardens, and art at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—a place where every decision, no matter how innocuous, has political ramifications. Participants receive a copy of each speaker’s corresponding large-format book published by the White House Historical Association. This session focuses on White House music.

Date
Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.