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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Biography & Autobiography Programs

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

He went from bobby-soxers’ dreamboat to the Chairman of the Board—and he did it his way. Music historian John Edward Hasse toasts the unmistakable voice that defined Sinatra’s stardom.

Course
Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Documentary filmmaker and writer Sara Lukinson looks at three remarkable memoirs, as different in approach and style as the lives they led. In this session, discuss Born a Crime by comic Trevor Noah who recounts his childhood in apartheid South Africa.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Historian Alexander Mikaberidze breaks with the traditional focus on Napoleon and instead explores his remarkable family which produced two emperors and three kings, not to mention princes, poets, neurotics, heroes of the French Résistance, and even the founder of the FBI.

Course
Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Documentary filmmaker and writer Sara Lukinson looks at three remarkable memoirs, as different in approach and style as the lives they led. In this session, discuss A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway which conjures a fabled youth in Paris of the 1920s.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Follow the writer’s footsteps through the capital’s downtown as historian Garrett Peck examines the urban backdrop against which Whitman carved out a role as a nurse to Civil War soldiers; met the love of his life; worked as a federal clerk; and built a community through his literary circle.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, October 28, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Like a select few in music—Hoagy, Duke, Elvis, Wynton, Dolly—you recognize her by her first name alone. Join John Edward Hasse, co-curator of the long-running Smithsonian exhibition Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song, as he draws on film and video clips, rare photographs, and original recordings to provide insights into her extraordinary journey from shy orphan to beloved international celebrity.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

To call Cokie Roberts a legendary journalist merely scratches the surface of the life of this bestselling author and champion for women who was a fixture on national radio and television for 40 years. Journalist, author, and educator Steve Roberts, Cokie’s husband of 53 years, reflects on her many accomplishments and how she lived each day with a devotion to helping others.

Course
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Documentary filmmaker and writer Sara Lukinson looks at three remarkable memoirs, as different in approach and style as the lives they led. In this session, discuss Conundrum by travel writer Jan Morris who gives a spellbinding account of her riskiest journey, becoming another physical version of herself.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Actor, writer, and producer Kal Penn took a sabbatical from his entertainment career to serve as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement under President Obama—a very unexpected detour for the star of the Harold and Kumar movies and TV’s “House”. Join him as he draws from his new memoir You Can’t Be Serious to talk about his journey from Hollywood to Washington and back again, as well as why your life can have more stories and more choices than you thought.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Eleanor of Aquitaine is the stuff of legend. Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger considers how the many stories have grown from the real life of the ambitious and powerful woman who managed to become queen consort of England and France and shaped the reigns of two of England’s most famous kings: Richard the Lionheart and King John.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, December 2, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Peter Carl Faberge is best known and remembered for the amazing imperial Easter eggs he created for the last Russian Tsar’s wife and mother. He and his firm also designed and produced jewelry and decorative pieces of unparalleled workmanship. Art critic and author Judy Pomeranz examines the life and times of Faberge, his extraordinary art, and his illustrious clients. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, December 3, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET

Post-impressionism was less a negative reaction to impressionism than a desire to improve upon it. Art historian Janetta Rebold Benton presents an intimate look at the background, life, and art of four post-impressionist luminaries. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, December 8, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The sound of their music for Broadway, films, and television defined the spirit and mood of mid-century America—and continues to captivate us. In a lively evening, pianist, raconteur, and American music specialist Robert Wyatt celebrates the lives and works of Rodgers and Hammerstein, icons of the American musical whose songs elevated the human spirit.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, December 9, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The tumultuous friendship between George Harrison and Eric Clapton shaped not only their lives and careers but the shifting face of rock music in the early 1970s. Beatles expert Ken Womack and music historian Jason Kruppa explore the rock legends’ musical and personal collaboration, friendship, and rivalry—and a love triangle for the ages, involving Clapton, Harrison, and Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, December 13, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Dylan Thomas is among the 20th century’s most romantic and tragic figures, famous not only for his lyrical, soul-stirring poetry, but also his turbulent, hard-drinking lifestyle. Join us as we “burn and rave at close of day” in a celebration of this incandescent spirit. Author Daniel Stashower explores Thomas’s life and legacy, and actor Scott Sedar offers dramatic readings of some of his most celebrated poems.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, December 13, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Tapped by his one-time political rival Abraham Lincoln to become secretary of the treasury, Salmon P. Chase proved essential to the Civil War effort and pressed the president to emancipate the country’s slaves and recognize Black rights. Biographer Walter Stahr sheds new light on a complex and fascinating political figure, as well as on the pivotal events of the Civil War and its aftermath.