Lectures & Seminars
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.

Date
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
What It’s Like To Be a Dog

What if we could actually know what was going on in our pets’ brains? It’s possible, according to neuroscientist Greg Berns. He shares stories about his research with dogs and other animals that reveal that complex intelligence is all around us.

Date
Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Scandinavian Art and Architecture: Modern Aesthetic and Traditional Heart

Scandinavians are renowned internationally for their modern aesthetic and innovations in architecture and design. Explore the creative contributions of the region’s beautiful cities with art historian Karin Alexis. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Write the Stories of Your Ancestors

You’ve gathered information about your ancestors. It’s time to share their stories. Leading genealogy expert John Colletta explores the many ways to assemble and write the saga of a family.

Date
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Christmas with the First Ladies: The Sweetest Traditions

Spend an afternoon with professional decorator and author 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 how modern first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama have lent their distinctive styles and creativity to guiding the seasonal themes.

Date
Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 2:00 p.m.
Tea with a Bookseller: Previews of the Newest Children/YA Titles

Washington is home to excellent local bookstores serving every kind of literary taste. In the third installment of a new monthly series in which local booksellers preview upcoming titles, Brennan Baker from A Potter’s House offers top picks among children’s and young adult authors. (Tea, sherry, and cookies round out each session.)

Date
Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 4:00 p.m.
A Renaissance Christmas

Much of how we traditionally visualize of the story of Christ’s birth has been shaped by art created by three centuries of Italian masters. Early-Renaissance specialist Rocky Ruggiero examines some of these moving visual interpretations of the events that define the Christmas season by artists such as Giotto, Simone Martini, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, and Caravaggio. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Monday, December 4, 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. 

Date
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.

Date
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 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 Was Indiana Jones?" Part of a 5-session lecture series.

Date
Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Olmec Culture: Monuments, Masterpieces, and Mysteries

More than 30,000 years ago, important centers of Olmec culture flourished along the Gulf of Mexico. George L. Scheper of Johns Hopkins University provides a cultural overview of these achievements, and examines the Olmecs’ relationship and influence on neighboring civilizations. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Early-Renaissance Florence and Siena: Dueling Artistic Traditions

Lisa Baumann, associate professor of art history at George Mason University, explores the stylistic differences among artists working in the city-states of Florence and Siena at the cusp of the Renaissance. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Unpublished Black History: Rediscovered Images from the New York Times

A cache of photos uncovered in the New York Times archives in 2016 documents  events and personalities that shed light on African American history over the past several decades. Join Darcy Eveleigh, photo editor at the Times, and Rachel Swarns, a contributing writer for the newspaper, for look at these previously unseen photos and the story behind their rediscovery.

Date
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Feynman and Wheeler: A Friendship in Particle Physics

Physicist Paul Halpern examines how the unlikely collaboration of two temperamentally contrasting scientists—Richard Feynman and John Wheeler—laid vital groundwork for late-20th-century breakthroughs that made a lasting impact on physics.

Date
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Hasidism: Lifting the Veil of Obscurity

Rooted in 18th-century Poland, the pietistic movement of Hasidism swept Eastern Europe, was destroyed by World War II, and experienced a dynamic modern renaissance. Three co-authors of a comprehensive new book about the sect discuss their work in chronicling nearly four centuries of intellectual, religious, and social history.

Date
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 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 "Why Does That Belong in a Museum?" Part of a 5-session lecture series.

Date
Thursday, January 4, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
A Dozen Offbeat Adventures: Must-See Destinations for 2018

Intrepid and inventive globetrotters Mike and Ann Howard are ready to broaden your travel horizons. The team behind the HoneyTrek.com blog offers a practical guide to putting together one-of-a-kind experiences in places like Central America, Scandinavia, the Himalayas, and other unforgettable locations.

Date
Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Are We Alone in Our Place Among the Stars?: Exoplanets May Reveal the Answer

In a universe filled with infinite solar systems, could there be Earth-like exoplanets capable of sustaining life? Join Sam Quinn, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, who describes what scientific exploration has thus far revealed. 

Date
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 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)

Date
Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.