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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Biography & Autobiography Programs

Edgar Degas: The Independent Impressionist

Art historian Bonita Billman examines Degas in the context of the impressionist movement and colleagues including Monet, Pissarro, and Cassatt. She explores his work in a variety of media, analyzes his contributions to French art, and looks at his role as an art collector of merit. The program complements the exhibition Degas at the Opera at the National Gallery of Art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

The Complicated, Controversial Lives of British Royal Consorts

What happens when there’s a power struggle within a power couple? Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger examines some of Britain’s most famous royal pairs and the challenges they faced in maintaining a happy marriage while one of them ruled the kingdom.

Date of event
Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Will Rogers: Oklahoma's Favorite Son

Will Rogers’ plainspoken humor and clear-eyed social commentary struck a chord with audiences around the world during the early decades of the 20th century and made him the voice of his nation. Author Daniel Stashower explores this true American original’s life and legacy and actor Scott Sedar performs some of his most celebrated monologues.

Date of event
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Bakari Sellers: My Vanishing Country

Bakari Sellers, a CNN analyst and one of the youngest state representatives in South Carolina history, examines the plight of the South's dwindling rural population of black working-class men and women. Drawing on his new book My Vanishing Country, he surveys the struggles that shape their lives: gaining access to healthcare, making ends meet as factories shut down, holding on to traditions as towns erode, and forging a path forward without succumbing to despair.

Date of event
Friday, September 11, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Charlemagne, Father of Europe

The greatest of the barbarian rulers who rose to power after the fall of the Roman Empire was both a warrior king marked by a lust for territory and plunder and a great patron of the arts, learning, and religion. Historian Richard Abels explores the defining facets of the man and the myth behind the so-called Father of Europe.

Date of event
Monday, September 14, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Five Giants of Romantic Music: Friends in Life, Rivals in Art

Popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin combines lecture and piano demonstrations to examine the lives and work of Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, and Richard Wagner.

Date of event
Monday, September 21, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.

Vermeer: In Praise of the Ordinary

Explore the legacy of painter Johannes Vermeer, a master of light and color whose paintings captured the beauty and meaning of everyday life, with art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, September 26, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.

Igor Stravinsky: The Masterworks

Opera and classical music expert Saul Lilienstein surveys Stravinsky’s major accomplishments, from his early ground-breaking music for the Ballets Russes, through the neoclassical masterworks that culminated with The Rake’s Progress, to the far-reaching modernism of his later years.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 6 to November 17, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (no class Nov. 3)

Galileo: Lessons from a Great Scientist

For Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei was “the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether.” Astrophysicist Mario Livio examines Galileo’s monumental achievements in astronomy, mechanics, and the development of the scientific method.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.