Skip to main content
Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

World History Programs

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

In January 1942, a German U-boat surfaced in New York Harbor. This American oversight inspired Operation Paukenschlag, or “Drumbeat,” a little-known Nazi campaign to bring World War II to our shores. George Mason University history professor Kevin Matthews explores this little-known period of the war and how, with help from Britain’s Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, America turned back the Nazi attacks.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, May 14, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Blossoming in Vienna and spreading like a mania through Europe, the waltz proclaimed a new freedom of sexual expression and individual liberties in the early 19th century. Classical music and opera expert Saul Lilienstein traces the development of a musical form and a dance that changed history.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Art historian Renee Gondek focuses on visual depictions of the iconic hero of the Trojan War, Achilles, to examine how the most famous of epic narratives from Classical mythology inspired centuries of creators and cultures. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Course
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Guided by Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, this series focuses on four of these sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. The session focuses on Palmyra.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, May 20, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Great art is timeless, and speaks to us across time, culture, and space. Artist and educator Paul Glenshaw looks at one of the most iconic images of the French Revolution as he delves into the time of the artist and explores what shaped David’s vision. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, May 20, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

During the 1920s and 1930s, Cairo’s lively music, theater, film, and cabaret scene was dominated by women who were entrepreneurs and owners as well as celebrities. Discover the rich histories of the independent figures who offered a new vision for women in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

Course
Tuesday, May 25 to June 15, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Join Historic Royal Palaces guide Siobhan Clarke for a virtual look inside four great historic royal palaces. Using maps, paintings, photographs, and music, Clarke introduces the splendid corridors of royal power and pleasure.

Course
Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Guided by Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, this series focuses on four of these sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. The session focuses on the Bamiyan Buddhas.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Met Cloisters curator Barbara Drake Boehm provides a fresh interpretation of the complex imagery woven into the iconic medieval Unicorn Tapestries. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Learn how 19th-century Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt’s conversations about the arts, science, politics, and exploration with figures such as President Thomas Jefferson and artist Charles Willson Peale had a lasting influence on American art, culture, and understanding of the natural world.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, May 28, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

As ruler of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, Sultan Mehmed II viewed himself as a new Roman emperor. To reflect that power and prestige he required an appropriate symbol: the magnificent Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Join Serif Yenen, a tour guide and guidebook author, for an exploration of the dazzling palace—including its fabled hidden sections—and stories about the lifestyles of the sultans who inhabited it. (World Art History certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Course
Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Guided by Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, this series focuses on four of these sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. The session focuses on Timbuktu.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, June 2, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

We loved watching TV series "Downton Abbey" and its glimpses into Edwardian lives. Historian Julie Taddeo looks beyond the show’s period fashions and lavish sets to consider its historical accuracy and what it says about the 21st century.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, June 3, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

To fight the challenges of racism and white supremacy today, we must understand their origins, reminds medievalist Paul B. Sturtevant. Join him as he uncovers the thousand-year-old lineage of a very modern problem.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, June 8, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Thousands of life-size terracotta figures were buried to accompany China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, in the afterlife. Learn how the 3rd-century B.C. ruler shaped the visible expression of Chinese imperial power with a legacy that includes glittering palaces, sweeping defensive walls, and stunning artwork, along with the buried warriors. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Course
Tuesday, June 8, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Guided by Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, this series focuses on four of these sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. The session focuses on the Great Barrier Reef.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

David Eisenhower, director of the Institute for Public Service at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, examines Operation Overlord, the daring cross-Channel invasion that was a meticulously detailed plan—and a logistical nightmare.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, June 11, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In the 11th century, Pisa was a thriving city and a maritime power. Lucca later emerged as one of the region’s trading centers. Join Renaissance art historian Elaine Ruffolo for an incisive look at these cities’ influence on the development of art and architecture in the Mediterranean region. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, June 12, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Historian Jennifer Paxton examines the history behind Shakespeare’s history plays and explores the fascinating ways in which he did—and did not—depart from what his contemporaries knew about their own past both to entertain his audience and to comment on the politics of his own day.

Lecture/Seminar
Tues., June 29, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The Borgias’ name has become synonymous with blind ambition, murder, rape, incest, and torture in Renaissance Italy. But there was something more to know about them, and art historian Elizabeth Lev provides a broader context to the powerful family’s story.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, July 9, 2021 - 12 to 1:15 p.m.  ET

As the capital of the western outpost of the Roman Empire in its last days, then of the occidental provinces of the Byzantine Empire, Ravenna offered a refuge of luxury and splendor rising above relentless seas of barbarism. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo explores the city’s extraordinary early Christian-era structures and what they reveal about an important period of European cultural history. (World Art History Certificate elective: ½ credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, July 17, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET

Historian and self-styled Anglophile Gary A. Rendsburg draws on his  research in English museums and libraries to find out why, through the centuries, many venerable English personages were fascinated by Jewish history.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

The enormously popular Netflix series “Bridgerton” has brought Britain’s Queen Charlotte into the limelight, but how accurate are the show’s portrayals of this long-reigning queen consort? Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores the nonfictional Charlotte’s influence on social life, the arts, and politics during her 57 years on the throne, as well as her  lengthy and complicated relationship with her husband King George III.  

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, July 23, 2021 - 12:00 to 1:15 p.m.  ET

At its height, Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power, and influence. Its often-violent political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous being the Medici. Renaissance art historian Elaine Ruffolo traces the family’s influence on the city’s political, economic, and cultural history. (World Art History Certificate elective, ½ credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, July 29, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Few figures in history excite as passionately held and often-conflicting visions as Napoleon. Historian Alexander Mikaberidze discusses the many facets of Napoleon the man and his enormous influence on Europe and many parts of the world.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - 6:30 p.m.
Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET

Their scandals became the stuff of legends, but this royal family also opened the New World and new worlds of English power. Scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger of the Folger Shakespeare Library leads a look behind the Tudors’ carefully contrived image of monarchy.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, August 14, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

The famous breaking of the Mayan code in the late 20th century revolutionized the study of these peoples and of ancient America. Humanities scholar George Scheper examines how interdisciplinary study of the Maya extends beyond the traditional archaeological focus to comprise political and social history, art, comparative religion, and ecology.