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All upcoming Biography & Autobiography programs

All upcoming Biography & Autobiography programs

Showing programs 1 to 10 of 11
February 22, 2024

Over more than a century, three generations of Wyeths of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, have created a collective portrait of America. Art historian Bonita Billman traces the family tradition reflected in their disparate subjects and styles. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


February 29, 2024

Hired by the Union Army during the Civil War, Harriet Tubman ventured into the heart of slave territory—Beaufort, South Carolina—to live, work, and gather intelligence for a daring raid up the Combahee River to attack the major plantations of Rice Country, the breadbasket of the Confederacy. Historian Edda L. Fields-Black—a descendent of one of the soldiers in the June 1863 action that liberated 756 enslaved people—traces the raid’s planning, participants, execution, and aftermath.


March 2, 2024

What do Richard the Lionheart, Henry VII, and Queen Elizabeth II have in common? They came to the throne after the deaths of their fathers—and with mothers eager to be involved in the running of the country. Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger examines the 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.


March 7, 2024

Bedrich Smetana dedicated his life to championing Czech culture and language through his operas, tone poems, chamber music, and piano works. His ardent nationalism produced such masterpieces as the joyful comic opera The Bartered Bride, the sweeping six-movement symphonic cycle My Homeland, and his autobiographical string quartet, From My Life. To honor Smetana’s 200th birthday year, pianist and scholar Rachel Franklin explores his powerful legacy and spotlights many lesser-known piano and operatic gems by this pioneering Czech master.


April 2, 2024

More than two centuries after his birth, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s reputation as the prophet of self-reliance has obscured a complicated figure—one who spent a lifetime wrestling with injustice, philosophy, art, desire, and suffering. Emersonian lecturer, editor, and translator James Marcus pieces together a new portrait of Emerson’s life that reveals an eerily modern persona of rebel, lover, friend, husband, and father.


April 3, 2024

Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most significant women artists of the Baroque period, worked against all odds at a time when art was dominated by men, becoming the first woman to be accepted by the Academy of the Arts in Florence. Art historian Joseph Paul Cassar surveys her works—notable for dramatic paintings that portray strong biblical heroines—and discusses her training in the workshop of her father. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


April 9, 2024

Frederick Douglass was the preeminent African American voice of the 19th century and among the nation’s greatest orators, writers, and intellectuals. Born into slavery, he became a leading abolitionist, civil rights activist, and as the most-photographed American of the 19th-century, a public face of the nation. An exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, “One Life: Frederick Douglass,” explores his life and legacy. Its guest curator John Stauffer discusses the intimate relationship between art and protest through prints, photographs and ephemera.


April 16, 2024

For 50 years, Akira Kurosawa reigned supreme as Japan’s premier filmmaker and one of the world’s leading cinematic masters. In works from Rashomon to The Seven Samurai to Rhapsody in August, his mastery is evidenced in the 31 unforgettable films he directed between 1943 and 1993. Film historian Max Alvarez unfolds his sweeping saga, tracing Kurosawa’s remarkable life from a meteoric rise at Toho Studios during the 1930s through personal and professional triumphs, frustrations, and artistic comebacks.


April 17, 2024

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) was one of the last great masters of the Japanese woodblock print, credited with firmly establishing landscape as a distinctive genre within the art form. His captivating vistas of mountains, forests, and waters are some of the most enduring imagery to represent the Japanese archipelago. National Museum of Asian Art curator Kit Brooks examines Hiroshige’s training, departures from conventional woodblock print subjects, and unconventional aesthetics.


April 18, 2024

Abraham Lincoln, a staunch advocate of democracy, believed in the fundamental principles of the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Two leading Lincoln scholars, Allen C. Guelzo and Harold Holzer, discuss the intricacies of Lincoln's legacy, providing a dual perspective on the challenges and triumphs that defined the nation during the 19th century and drawing parallels to the complexities of the current one.