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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

World History Programs

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, October 28, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

To wage their bitter war with the powerful British Empire from 1919 to 1921, Irish nationalists turned to novel tactics both military and political: a strategy of assassinations, hit-and-run raids, and—a new concept—urban guerrilla warfare. Historian Kevin Matthews discusses how this conflict set the standard for other independence struggles in the 20th century.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, October 28, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Serving as crew members on flights bringing servicemen into and out of combat zones at the height of the Vietnam War was a career adventure that the young women who became stewardesses at Pan Am World Airways in the 1960s and 70s could never have imagined. Drawing on her new book Come Fly the World, Julia Cooke discusses their often-overlooked wartime stories and examines why the role of Jet Age stewardess carried far more professional weight than simply being a flying waitress.

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

Although less famous than their Tudor cousins, the Scottish Stuarts ruled over a period of growth and chaos that changed England and Scotland forever. Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger looks at the eventful hundred years of the Stuart reign.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, October 30, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET

Civilizations have risen and fallen for centuries on the banks of the Mekong River. Long before there was Phnom Penh, Hanoi, or Vientiane, there were the settlements in the areas now known as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Art historian Robert DeCaroli investigates the cultures that emerged along this massive 2,700-mile-long river. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, November 5, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Many iconic churches and palaces in Florence were constructed to represent wealth and power, but architect Filippo Brunelleschi’s Hospital of the Innocents was the first institution in the world to be dedicated to the well-being of children. Renaissance art historian Elaine Ruffolo explores its architecture and magnificent charitable history. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, November 6, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Ireland and Britain share a troubled past. Historian Jennifer Paxton untangles the complicated threads in the story of the Irish and British peoples and analyzes how a heritage of conflict is being transformed by new opportunities and new challenges.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

What was it like to be a Jewish citizen in Venice between their settlement there in the 16th century to the end of World War II? From the beginning, the rules that governed Jewish life in the ghetto—a Venetian word—contrasted greatly with those outside the quarter. Historian Monica Chojnacka highlights the complicated history of the Venetian Jews and places it in the context of greater European history.

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
Saturday, November 13, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Understanding Italian architecture is understanding Western Civilization. No country has produced such an extraordinary number of iconic architectural monuments. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, traces the evolution of Italian architecture from its ancient Roman origins through the Middle Ages, and concludes with the breathtaking theatrics of Baroque architecture. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

We often think of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome as discrete incubators of Western culture. However, Greece and Rome did not develop in isolation. The lands to the north of the Greek and Roman peninsulas were inhabited by non-literate communities that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains. Archaeologist Peter Bogucki reveals the development of these nearly forgotten people from the Stone Age through the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west.

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

The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries celebrate a world in which unicorns—no less than lions, bunny rabbits, or refined ladies—surely exist. Barbara Drake Boehm, curator emerita of the Met Cloisters, leads a virtual visit to the Cluny Museum to explore the exceptionally rich imagery, the history—real and imagined—and meaning behind these charming early 16th-century masterpieces. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

General Black Jack Pershing’s 1916 “Punitive Expedition” into Mexico was intended to capture Pancho Villa in retribution for an attack on a small New Mexico town carried out by his revolutionary forces. Although it failed in its objective, historian Dakota Springston examines how the expedition changed American warfare and why the United States’ first truly mechanized conflict served as a testing ground for the country’s entry into WWI.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, November 19, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Kevin Tervala, associate curator of African art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, explores the monumental and aesthetically innovative structures made from mud and earthen material built across the African continent—and how they communicated fundamental social, cultural, and religious beliefs. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Course
Monday, November 29, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In a 3-session evening series, historian Justin M. Jacobs presents in-depth overviews of three particularly intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites. This session focuses on the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

At the center of the vibrant world of 15th-century Florence was a bookstore beside the Bargello run by Vespasiano da Bisticci—known as the “king of the world’s booksellers.” He created magnificent libraries and deluxe manuscripts for clients that included popes, kings, and three generations of Medici. Author Ross King paints a portrait of the intellectual, political, and religious ferment of this world through a bookseller’s eyes.

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

Throughout the Middle Ages the vast majority of Jews lived under either Islamic rule or Christian rule. Under caliphate rule across North Africa and the Middle East, Jews flourished. In contrast, life in Christian Europe was fraught with challenges. Historian Gary Rendsburg focuses on how the Jews survived during the Middle Ages, the period that bridges their historical roots in the land of Israel and the dawn of modernity brought on by the Renaissance.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, December 2, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The Shroud of Turin has been an object of reverence and fascination since it surfaced in mid-14th century France. Historian Cheryl White and the Rev. Peter Mangum, noted specialists in the study of the shroud, explore the mystery of this artifact through its known history and scientific findings, as well as the current state of research and scholarship. What stories held in this cloth are yet to be told?

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, December 3, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Although its vision of a coming decade of peace, prosperity, and progress collapsed into the fires of WWII, the 1939 World’s Fair succeeded in providing a captivating glimpse into the science, technology, and innovation of the future. Historian Allen Pietrobon examines how, despite the clash of international politics, the dazzling exhibition drew huge crowds to a former Queens dumping ground transformed into Flushing Meadow.

Course
Monday, December 6, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In a 3-session evening series, historian Justin M. Jacobs presents in-depth overviews of three particularly intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites. This session focuses on the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

For centuries no one had been aware of the ancient Indus civilization. Today we know it was as ancient and extensive as those of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Historian and science writer Andrew Robinson introduces this tantalizing ‘lost’ civilization that uniquely combined artistic excellence, technological sophistication, and economic vigor with social egalitarianism, political freedom, and religious moderation.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, December 10, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

From the sunny fields of the Mediterranean to the misty meadows of England, the history of lavender spans civilizations, centuries, and continents. Speaker and food historian Christine Rai explores lavender's role in history, art, music, literature, religion, and folklore, and how it continues to compel us today.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

At the start of the First World War, a handful of volunteers created an all-American fighter squadron in the French Air Service, the legendary Lafayette Escadrille. Join filmmakers Paul Glenshaw and Darroch Greer, creators of a new documentary on the squadron, as they trace its beginnings, the colorful characters in it, and their motivations—some noble, some opportunistic—to risk their lives for America’s oldest ally.

Course
Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Chinese civilization has given rise to some of the world’s most remarkable artistic creations. Art historian Robert DeCaroli examines how, across the centuries, social, religious, and political life have influenced transformations in China’s material culture. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, January 6, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Join Christine Rai to explore how Dutch history geography, and climate shaped its distinct cheese styles and how cheese has played a role in the wider culture of the Netherlands. In addition to the fascinating history, she surveys how today’s Dutch cheese makers are innovating beyond their roots and shares tips and suggestions for savoring a range of delicious Dutch cheeses.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, January 10, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The romantic feminine lines and chic textured suits that emerged in Paris after the austerity of WWII are admired even today. Christian Dior’s luxurious bounty of expansive skirts with tiny wasp waists and Coco Chanel’s impeccably tailored signature suits defined the arc of fashion in the 1950s. Join design historian Elizabeth Lay as she looks at the seeds of each style, the customers who bought these marvelous designs, and the minute details of haute couture that set these fashions apart from the ordinary.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The story of Jerusalem is the tale of how science, politics, and religion meet in its shadowy subterranean spaces. Journalist Andrew Lawler traces that buried history as he discusses the early explorers who navigated sewage-filled passages; follows the European, American, and Israeli archaeologists who made stunning discoveries beneath the city; and explores how these finds became essential elements in the battle to control the Holy City.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, January 20, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Despite prejudice, prosecution, and political setbacks, nothing could force out the Jews of Kazimierz—a district of Krakow in Poland established in the 14th century. For centuries, they built their lives here, gaining religious and other freedoms along the way—until the Holocaust. Author and tour guide Christopher Skutela surveys the district’s rich history, its sites, and its significance.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, January 24, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The popular 2017 film Dunkirk presented a vivid look the famous evacuation of British forces from France in the spring of 1940. But as he examines the planning and execution of the desperate boatlift and analyzes its overall strategic impact on the continuing war effort, Kevin J. Weddle, a professor of military theory and strategy at the U.S. Army War College, reveals why there’s much more to Dunkirk, and why its lead-up and aftermath are just as exciting as the evacuation itself.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, January 29, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Historian Alexander Mikaberidze examines four historical moments crucial in the emergence of France, a country with a uniquely lengthy, dramatic, and varied history. Accept his virtual invitation to the coronation of the greatest of medieval European rulers, to fight alongside King Philippe Auguste as he confronted an English-led coalition of monarchs, to look behind the intrigues at the French royal court, and to follow Parisians as they stormed the parapets of the Bastille.

Course
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Our modern world echoes and even replicates the creative vestiges of the past—and the key to understanding our surroundings is through an overview of ancient material culture. Focusing on the Mediterranean region, art historian Renee Gondek offers a survey of the earliest traces of artistic production from the Paleolithic period through the late Bronze Age. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Course
Thursday, February 3, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

For centuries, the English monarchy was male, but several notable women shattered that royal glass ceiling. Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger leads an assumption-challenging survey of female reigns, from the first crowned queen of England to the record-breaking longevity of Elizabeth II, examining how each redefined the role of the ruler and nature of the monarchy.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 10, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Why and how do living languages change? The answer, in a word, is fascinating. Linguist and English language historian Anne Curzan leads a lively tour across the language’s shifting landscape, from Beowulf to blogging.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, February 12, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. ET

The state of Oaxaca in Mexico, and its eponymous Spanish colonial capital city, have been important cultural crossroads from pre-Columbian times to the present day. Learn about its rich cultural history, from the domestication of maize corn more than 10,000 years ago to Oaxaca’s emergence as a contemporary international cultural center.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, February 26, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Biblical scholar and historian Gary Rendsburg presents a fascinating survey of aspects of the Jewish diaspora from the ancient and medieval periods, tracing the histories of communities in Egypt, Babylonia, Russia, Arabia, Italy, and Spain.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, March 14, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

In 1775, the British Empire’s most valuable colonies in the New World were in the Caribbean. Historian Richard Bell discusses how fearful imperial officials struggled to insulate the British West Indies from the contagion of revolution that was overtaking its colonies on the mainland—and how those attempts ultimately failed.