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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Authors, Books, & Writing Programs

Course

Write Into Art: Creative Writing Inspired by Visual Art

Tuesday, October 11, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Discover how visual art can inspire creative writing and how writing can offer a powerful way to experience art. Join Mary Hall Surface, the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, for a series of five online workshops that explore essential elements of writing and styles through close looking, word-sketching, and imaginative response to prompts. This writing session is inspired by Paul Cadmus’s Bar Italia.

Lecture/Seminar

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey: Enduring Lessons from Ancient Classics

Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Homer’s masterpieces the Iliad and Odyssey helped the ancient Greeks understand, through oral recitation, the tribulations of their world. Joseph Luzzi, a professor of comparative literature at Bard College, explores the idea that we can also use these epics to make sense of some of the greatest cultural, political, and social problems we face today.

Tour

The Rise of DC’s Black Intelligentsia: Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar-Nelson in LeDroit Park

Saturday, October 15, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Northwest Washington’s LeDroit Park neighborhood became home to the city’s most prominent African American residents. Join author and literary historian Kim Roberts on a walking tour that visits the homes of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African American to gain national eminence as a poet, and his wife, poet and activist Alice Dunbar-Nelson, as well those of other members of the city’s African American intelligentsia who were drawn to LeDroit Park and the surrounding Shaw neighborhood.

Lecture/Seminar

Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan: A Novel Duo

Saturday, October 15, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is known for her compelling storytelling that thoughtfully tackles contemporary issues. For her latest novel, she teamed up with author Jennifer Finney Boylan to create the suspenseful Mad Honey. Join them as they discuss what it was like to work together and their inspiration behind the novel.

Tour

The Rise of DC’s Black Intelligentsia: Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar-Nelson in LeDroit Park

Sunday, October 16, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Northwest Washington’s LeDroit Park neighborhood became home to the city’s most prominent African American residents. Join author and literary historian Kim Roberts on a walking tour that visits the homes of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African American to gain national eminence as a poet, and his wife, poet and activist Alice Dunbar-Nelson, as well those of other members of the city’s African American intelligentsia who were drawn to LeDroit Park and the surrounding Shaw neighborhood.

Course

Write Into Art: Creative Writing Inspired by Visual Art

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Discover how visual art can inspire creative writing and how writing can offer a powerful way to experience art. Join Mary Hall Surface, the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, for a series of five online workshops that explore essential elements of writing and styles through close looking, word-sketching, and imaginative response to prompts. This writing session is inspired by Scherezade García’s Day Dreaming/Soñando despierta.

Lecture/Seminar

Shakespeare and Company: The Bookshop That Shaped the Lost Generation

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

In 1919, an American woman named Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop and lending library on the Left Bank of Paris. In the decades that followed, it became the heart of a community of writers and artists now known as the Lost Generation. Joshua Kotin, an associate professor of English at Princeton University, draws on a treasury of Beach’s personal and business records to create a vivid portrait of a period and place that changed literary history.

Course

Reading Faulkner: Chronicler of the Deep South in Literature

Thursday, October 20, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Mississippi-born William Faulkner stands as one of the greatest, and one of the most problematic, figures in American literature. Michael Gorra, professor of English language and literature at Smith College and author of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War, focuses on three of Faulkner’s greatest novels to uncover the complexities behind the man and the writer.

Lecture/Seminar

The Stories Behind English Spelling: An Awesome Mess

Thursday, October 20, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

What’s behind the spelling of colonel? Or knight? Why is it four but also forty? Linguist Anne Curzan discusses why an examination of the ever-evolving language whose spelling has been described as “an awesome mess” reveals a treasure trove of wild and wonderful stories about its history and the people who have spoken it (and grappled with its quirks) across the centuries.

Tour

The Rise of DC’s Black Intelligentsia: Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar-Nelson in LeDroit Park

Saturday, October 22, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Northwest Washington’s LeDroit Park neighborhood became home to the city’s most prominent African American residents. Join author and literary historian Kim Roberts on a walking tour that visits the homes of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African American to gain national eminence as a poet, and his wife, poet and activist Alice Dunbar-Nelson, as well those of other members of the city’s African American intelligentsia who were drawn to LeDroit Park and the surrounding Shaw neighborhood.

Program

Steve Case Drives Them To Succeed

Monday, October 24, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET

Entrepreneur Steve Case recognized that jobs and opportunity spurred by technology were concentrated in a select few coastal cities. In response, he launched Rise of the Rest, a nationwide platform to back and spotlight innovative startups outside of Silicon Valley. Join Case, in conversation with Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, as he shares some of the success stories of these startup communities, all leveraging regional strengths and betting on the future of innovation beyond the country’s usual tech hubs.

Course

Write Into Art: Creative Writing Inspired by Visual Art

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Discover how visual art can inspire creative writing and how writing can offer a powerful way to experience art. Join Mary Hall Surface, the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, for a series of five online workshops that explore essential elements of writing and styles through close looking, word-sketching, and imaginative response to prompts. This writing session is inspired by Emma Amos’s Winning.

Lecture/Seminar

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America, his seminal assessment of both the American experiment and the future of democracy after a visit to this country in 1831. Georgetown professor and political theorist Joseph Hartman considers the way in which Tocqueville thought through democracy and its problems and what Tocqueville means for us today.

Lecture/Seminar

Herman Melville's Arrowhead: The Birthplace of Moby Dick

Friday, November 4, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From 1850 through 1863, Herman Melville and his family made their home at Arrowhead, an unassuming yellow farmhouse on the western border of Massachusetts. Veteran Arrowhead tour guide John Dickson and Executive Director Lesley Herzberg lead an enlightening program that explores how Melville used the inspiration of the house and its surrounding landscape to write Moby Dick and other well-known novels and stories.

Lecture/Seminar

The Holding Bowl: A Reflective Writing Workshop

Sunday, November 6, 2022 - 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET

Discover the power of reflective writing guided by the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, Mary Hall Surface. Inspired by contemporary works by American artist Margaret Boozer and poet Jane Hirshfield, explore the bowl as a metaphor for our lives and the world.

Lecture/Seminar

The Legacy of the Gettysburg Address

Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

While Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address lasted scarcely two minutes, it had a lasting impact on world history and his enduring legacy as people through the ages have looked to his words for inspiration. During this centennial year of the Lincoln Memorial, author and journalist Chuck Raasch explores the history of this iconic address that surprised onlookers and was ridiculed by the press—yet remains one of the greatest speeches ever given.

Lecture/Seminar

Winter Wisdom: A Reflective Writing Workshop

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Discover the power of reflective writing guided by the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, Mary Hall Surface. Inspired by Claude Monet’s The Magpie and two winter poems by Mary Oliver, you’ll explore the lessons that the season offers us when we slow down, look closely, and reflect.

Lecture/Seminar

Gulliver's Travels: A Satire Not Just for Children

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Though often regarded as a children’s book, Gulliver's Travels is filled with Jonathan Swift’s “savage indignation” at the problems in the human character and offers a witty, enchanting, and unrelenting critique of the optimism of the Enlightenment. Learn why humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson considers it a work of genius as he leads a journey into the dark recesses of the severest satirist in the English language.

Lecture/Seminar

Ian Fleming: The Creator of James Bond

Wednesday, January 11, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

You might call Ian Fleming—who introduced a British Secret Service agent named James Bond to the world with Casino Royale in 1952—The Man with the Golden Typewriter. The 14 Bond books he authored sparked a global sensation, sold tens of millions of copies, and became the source for the longest-running film franchise in history. In an evening in the dashing Bond spirit, author Daniel Stashower explores Ian Fleming’s life and legacy, while actor Scott Sedar, aka The Man with the Golden Voice, reads from Fleming’s most popular works.

Lecture/Seminar

Adam Smith's America

Thursday, January 19, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Originally published in 1776, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was lauded by America’s founders as a landmark work of Enlightenment thinking about national wealth, statecraft, and moral virtue. Harvard University lecturer and author Glory Liu traces how generations of Americans have read, reinterpreted, and weaponized Smith’s ideas over time.