Lectures & Seminars
The Battle of the Meuse-Argonne: 47 Days to Victory

Over the course of a month and a half in 1918, poorly equipped and inexperienced American doughboys managed a feat that had stymied French and British forces for more than 3 years: defeating the German army. Historian Mitchell Yockelson recounts the story of the battle that brought WWI to a close.

Date
Monday, February 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Agents of Change: Large-Scale Problems, Individual Impact

How can a single person make a difference in meeting the seemingly insurmountable social problems that face our world? Public policy specialist Zachary D. Kaufman examines how the concept of social entrepreneurship can empower individuals to take ideas and transform them into action that can help transform entire societies.

Date
Monday, February 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
From the Podium: The Conductor's Perspective

A. Scott Wood, music director and conductor of the Arlington Philharmonic and the Amadeus Orchestra, offers a firsthand guide to what a conductor does from the first viewing of the score until the final performance’s bows. Participants also have the opportunity to sit in on an Arlington Philharmonic rehearsal a few days after the program.

Date
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Rumi: The Sound of One Soul Speaking

The ecstatic love poems of Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, are beloved by millions of readers around the world. Biographer Brad Gooch discusses the less-known life of the man behind those works, and why his poetry remains among the most-read today.

Date
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
At the Gilded Age Table

Gilded Age society reveled in teas, cotillions, lawn parties, picnics, luncheons, and formal dinners—all of which had their own codes of dress and manners. Food historian Francine Segan examines the foods and entertainments enjoyed by the upper crust. A light reception with a period-inspired menu follows.

Date
Thursday, March 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Henry VIII: The Man Behind the Crown

An egomaniacal monarch? A driven political and religious reformer? A notorious serial queen-maker? If any king suffered from a centuries-old image problem, it’s Henry VIII. Join scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger for an unvarnished and comprehensive look at the man whose bigger-than-life royal legend masks a complex man.

Date
Saturday, March 4, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
John Feinstein: Basketball Legends, March Madness, and More

The writer shares stories from his newest book (on college basketball’s fiercest rivalry among three North Carolina coaches), previews March Madness, and talks with announcer Phil Hochberg about the sports world he knows so well.

Date
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Cultural Heritage Under Attack: Ancient Crimes, Modern Targets

Archaeologist Frederick Winter moderates a panel that explores how professionals in a variety of fields are working to secure important sites from looters, document unique monuments, and protect buildings from threats such as earthquakes, rising seas, and mass tourism. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Why Time Flies

It’s the clock that ticks inside us every living moment. But what do we really know about the idea of time? New Yorker writer Alan Burdick discusses what he discovered through his quest to explore how we conceptualize time and why we perceive it the way we do.

Date
Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The Celtic World: Ancient and Modern

Does our contemporary fascination with all things Celtic truly reflect the complex history and heritage of these ancient peoples? Historian Jennifer Paxton traces how their legacy affects culture and politics in the nations and regions commonly known as the Celtic Fringe—as well as in the wider world.

Date
Saturday, March 11, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Reading the Gilded Age Authors

Works by novelists Edith Wharton, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Anzia Yezierska provide literary perspectives on the changes that swept America during the Gilded Age. Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University leads a reading-group series that explores their varied depictions of characters whose personal dramas play out against rapidly shifting social, cultural, and economic backdrops. This session spotlights Henry James’ Daisy Miller (1878) and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899).

Date
Monday, March 13, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Are the Cards Collapsing?: A “House of Cards” Season 5 Preview

Stef Woods, who explores the intersection of television, politics, and ethics in a course at American University, finds plenty of juicy material in “House of Cards.” Get ready for the newest season as she examines what might be in the cards for the power-hungry Underwoods.

Date
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The Craft of Travel Writing

Great travel writing captures a reader’s imagination and emotions with compelling stories about places, people, and experiences. Andrew Evans is an expert in the genre, and in a day-long workshop he covers the essential skills and techniques that can help you tell the stories of your own adventures.

Date
Saturday, March 18, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Vertical Gardens

Vertical gardens are cropping up all over town, and can provide great inspirations for making your own space-saving green dreams a reality. Learn about the principles, technologies, and techniques of this unique approach to growing herbs, flowers, and produce from two local urban-farming pros.

Date
Saturday, March 18, 2017 - 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Maisie Dobbs and Stories from the Great War: The Work of Jacqueline Winspear

As imagined by author Jacqueline Winspear in her series of mystery novels, Maisie Dobbs is a psychologist and investigator who served as a nurse on the battlefields of World War I France. She returns to her life in London as shell-shocked as any man in the trenches, and works to heal her wounded soul.  Winspear considers how stories can help people open conversations and, perhaps, provide a means of making sense of the most troubling events in their lives.

Date
Monday, March 20, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Physicist Lawrence Krauss: Why Are We Here?

In his bestselling book, A Universe from Nothing, the internationally renowned theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss revealed how our entire universe could arise from nothing. Now, Krauss draws on his blend of reason, rigorous research, and engaging storytelling to present a dramatic story of the discovery of the hidden world of reality and the scientists who have helped to unravel its unexpected fabric.

Date
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Renoir: The Gift of Joy

Lush, sensual, and filled with vivid life, the paintings of Renior create a world that still beckons us. Art historian Bonita Billman showcases selections from Renoir’s prolific career as she examines why he is one of the most highly regarded artists of his time. (World Art History certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Classical Rhetoric for Modern Persuasion: Taking a Cue From Cicero

Whether we’re trying to win an argument with a friend or convince our coworkers about an important decision, classicist James M. May suggests we'd be at an advantage if we learned the timeless art of verbal persuasion, rhetoric. He offer strategies from the works of Cicero that are as effective in today's offices, schools, courts, and political debates as they were in the Roman forum.

Date
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
An Ancient Philosopher’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Mysterious Antikythera Mechanism

Alexander Jones of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University shares some the long-held secrets of one of the most intriguing archeological finds ever made: a sophisticated astronomical guide from around 200 B.C.

Date
Friday, March 24, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Yoga as Lifestyle Medicine

Therapeutic yoga is an awakening giant of modern medicine. Experts in the field of contemporary yoga therapy discuss how the practice long valued as a key to prevention, recovery and self-care, is proving itself a valuable partner in modern medical fields as diverse as pain management, healthy aging, treatment of diseases, psychiatry and neuroscience, as well as in education and social services.

Date
Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Rick Steves on Thoughtful Travel: Broadening Your Global Perspective

Drawing from lessons learned while exploring the globe, travel expert Rick Steves outlines how vacationing with an open mind and curiosity can make your trip an investment in a better world. You’ll also take home the best possible souvenir: widened cultural horizons.

Date
Monday, March 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Diane Rehm: In Conversation

Veteran broadcaster Diane Rehm, who has spent 37 years at the helm of her celebrated WAMU show, has been called “the class act of the radio talk world.” Listen in as she joins NPR’s Tom Gjelten  for a sure-to-be-fascinating interview, and learn a bit more about the person behind the voice.

Date
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
The Double Lives of Jack Barsky: The Spy Next Door

Forged identities, a smokescreen suburban life, and wives and children on two continents were all elements of Jack Barsky’s career as a KGB operative in America. Vince Houghton of the International Spy Museum interviews Barsky about his immersion in espionage, juggling allegiances, and assembling a new life after decades as spy.

Date
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Music specialist Robert Wyatt raises the curtain on a lively evening that examines and celebrates Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mix of showmanship and superb craft, filled with clips and recordings that cover the full range of his career from his earliest hits to his most recent works.

Date
Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Doctrine of Papal Infallibility

Papal infallibility is one of the most distinctive and least understood dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church—even among its members—and a divisive point between Catholics and other Christians. John Freymann traces its origins and development, placing it in historical context and drawing out its theological implications.

Date
Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Visual Literacy: The Art of Seeing

Like any language, art has its own vocabulary—one in which you discover more meaning and gratification as your fluency increases. Spend a day with art historian Lisa Passaglia Bauman 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, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, April 1, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The American Civil War and the World

Far from being a domestic conflict, the Civil War was closely watched by other countries. Paul Quigley, director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, explores international perspectives on the war, ranging from ideological affinities to economic calculations to strategic considerations.

Date
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Where the River Flows: Scientific Reflections on Earth’s Waterways

Geophysicist Sean W. Fleming examines how mathematics and physics can reveal the hidden dynamics of rivers, offering insights into the profound interrelationships that they have with landscapes, ecosystems, and societies.

Date
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Brutalism: The Architecture We Love To Hate

The muscular, aggressive buildings associated with iconic Swiss architect Le Corbusier and his modernist colleagues came to be known as “brutalist,” a play on beton brut, or “raw concrete.” Susan Piedmont-Palladino, curator at the National Building Museum, examines the influence of brutalism on Washington’s architecture and what’s in store for the future of this style here.

Date
Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The Rise of the Airplane: From the Wright Brothers to Lindbergh

Aviation expert Paul Glenshaw explores the scientific, cultural, and social contexts for the invention and development of the airplane and how a critical period early in the last century launched the wild ride we’ve been on ever since.

Date
Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Tim Robbins

The Academy Award-winning actor and activist adds another honor to the list tonight: recipient of Smithsonian Associates’ 16th annual Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award.

Date
Friday, April 7, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Love in World Religions: Comparative Religious Experiences

What do some of the great religious traditions of the world teach us today about the nature of love, that most powerful of human emotions? In this thoughtful daylong program, comparative religion scholar Graham M. Schweig explores and compares the expressions of perfect love found in the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions—as well as our modern ideas and experiences.

Date
Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Traveling on the Danube: River of History

Over its storied history, the Danube River has played a critical role as the long-standing frontier of the Roman Empire, a highway for goods, the route of emperors and kings, and a vital source of water for 20 million people. Art historian Ursula Rehn Wolfmann travels through time to explore some of the most historic and beautiful places along its shores. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Meditation: From Monastery to Mobile App

Andy Puddicombe, co-creator of the Headspace app, traces how his own experience with meditation led to a quest to blend centuries-old practices with modern science and technology. The result: more than 10 million meditating users.

Date
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
A Conversation with Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin has spent three decades in the spotlight, creating memorable comic and dramatic roles in films, on TV as Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock, and most recently, a certain recurring portrayal on Saturday Night Live. In a conversation, he discusses his career and life, including private facets that his new memoir, Nevertheless, makes public.

Date
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Reading the Gilded Age Authors

Works by novelists Edith Wharton, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Anzia Yezierska provide literary perspectives on the changes that swept America during the Gilded Age. Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University leads a reading-group series that explores their varied depictions of characters whose personal dramas play out against rapidly shifting social, cultural, and economic backdrops. This session spotlights Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900).

Date
Monday, April 17, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Thomas Becket: A Martyr for All Seasons

Historian Jennifer Paxton explores how the Archbishop of Canterbury fell afoul of his king for both personal and political reasons, and why his violent death turned him into the most important saint in Europe.

Date
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Iconography of Easter: Visions of Renaissance Masters

Giotto, Duccio, Piero della Francesca, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Tintoretto each found inspiration in the biblical narratives that are central to Easter. Rocky Ruggiero, a Florence-based specialist in the Early Renaissance, follows the journey of Holy Week as depicted in two centuries of art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Urban Wildlife: Balancing Coexistence and Management

Washingtonians share our city, filled with parks and abundant green spaces, with plenty of non-human fellow residents. Wildlife biologist John Hadidian examines the challenges and rewards of becoming better neighbors in nature.

Date
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The Handmaid’s Tale: An Exclusive Series Preview
With Margaret Atwood and Elisabeth Moss

The Handmaid’s Tale, a chilling story of life in the totalitarian dystopia of Gilead, has captured the imaginations of readers around the world since its publication in 1985. The novel is the basis for a new Hulu series, which debuts April 26.

Date
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
American Wine’s Historic Roots

Today’s most familiar wines derive from Europe’s ancient grape varieties, but America has a rich diversity of indigenous—and far lesser-known—grapes of its own. Jerry Eisterhold of Missouri’s Vox Vineyards discusses the history of American heritage grapes and what they offer to producers and wine lovers.

Date
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Arts and Crafts Movement: Simplicity, Humanity, Beauty

From William Morris’s richly pattered designs drawn from nature to the bold beauty of Greene and Greene’s California domestic architecture, the arts and crafts movement has left a wide and enduring legacy. Art historian Bonita Billman explores the artists and ideas that led to its international flowering. (World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Andrew Jackson and the Rise of the Democratic Party

Historians are fascinated by Andrew Jackson, a complex man whose forceful personality (he was universally known as “Old Hickory”) influenced the political culture of his time as he dominated both the presidency and Congress for two terms (1828-36). Historian Stephen D. Engle revisits the Jackson presidency and how it relates to our current political culture.

Date
Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Radio Finds Its Voice

Jill Ahrold Bailey, producer of “The Big Broadcast” on WAMU 88.5, tunes into an era in which Americans became linked by a new and booming medium, as radio dramatically—and quickly—changed the entertainment, news, and political scenes.

Date
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Telling Fact from Falsehood: Skills to Expose Pseudoscience

How do we know what we know? It’s hard enough parsing fact from fiction in today’s so-called post-truth environment, but how can we recognize science fact from pseudoscience? Paleontologist Thomas Holtz shares questions we need to ask to get to the truth.

Date
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
From Shtetl to Synagogue: Jewish Heritage Sites in Eastern Europe

Journalist and author Ruth Ellen Gruber redraws the map of extraordinary Jewish places in the heartland of Central and Eastern Europe and reveals the remarkable vestiges of the rich and dynamic culture that flourished for centuries.

Date
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Jane Austen: From the Parlor to Politics

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. The passing years have increased her novels’ appeal as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Dashwood sisters, and Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley continue to delight us. But the real world informed Austen’s portrayals of the elegant confines of Pemberley and the social climbing of Pulteney Street. Discover how Austen introduced the realities of Regency  England into her carefully crafted worlds.

Date
Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Discover Cuba: One Island, Many Worlds

After so many years, a thaw in diplomatic relations offers hope for greater opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba and to rediscover a still-evolving island and its people. Emilio Cueto, a popular Smithsonian Journeys’ study tour leader to Cuba, takes you on a virtual journey around the amazing island in the Caribbean.

Date
Saturday, April 29, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Maurice Ravel in 1920s Paris

He readily comes to mind as the composer of the great orchestral work, Bolero, but Maurice Ravel was one of the great mainstays of musical life in Paris of the 1920s. His work celebrated the greatness of France’s musical past as he also drew on modern techniques of musical composition.  Explore his musical genius and virtuosity in a lively daylong program highlighted by recordings and live piano performances.

Date
Saturday, April 29, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Shedding Light on Dark Matter

During the past century, advances in technology have allowed for the introduction of radical ideas about the nature of the cosmos and our place in it. Theoretical astrophysicist Priya Natarajan traces the arc of the acceptance of two such ideas: that of dark matter and black holes. She also discusses her intriguing work in mapping dark matter and modeling supermassive black holes.

Date
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
A Day at London’s National Gallery and Tate Britain

There is a reason that London’s National Gallery and the Tate Britain are must-sees for art lovers. In them, one can explore more than five centuries of Western painting. Spend a day with art historian Bonita Billman as she examines the rich holdings of these two world-class museums. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, May 6, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Mark Twain: A Celebration

It's been 106 years since the death of Samuel Langhorn Clemens, but his beloved works seems as fresh, funny, and pointed as ever. Author Daniel Stashower and actor Scott Sedar illustrate why we’re still quoting the wisdom of his words.

Date
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Reading the Gilded Age Authors

Works by novelists Edith Wharton, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Anzia Yezierska provide literary perspectives on the changes that swept America during the Gilded Age. Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University leads a reading-group series that explores their varied depictions of characters whose personal dramas play out against rapidly shifting social, cultural, and economic backdrops. This session spotlights Anzia Yezierska’s Salome of the Tenements (1923).

Date
Monday, May 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.