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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

World History Programs

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 at 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 3, 2022 - 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
Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Join one of the most famous art detectives in the world to hear tales from a long FBI career solving art crimes. Drawing on the headline-making cases he worked on, Robert Wittman explores notorious art heists and daring recovery operations.

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
Thursday, February 17, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Seventy years on, the global cataclysm known as World War II, as well as its withering aftermath, continues to capture the attention and imaginations of filmmakers around the world. Drawing on a variety of clips, film expert Marc Lapadula explores how several films portray historical figures and real-life incidents that profoundly impacted and devastated lives.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

On February 8, 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots was executed for treason on the orders of her English cousin, Elizabeth I. It was a tragic end to a turbulent life. But was she the victim of misogyny and anti-Catholic prejudice, or did she bring her troubles on herself by her own miscalculations? Historian Jennifer Paxton explores her life for the answer to one of history’s enduring questions.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day, painted in 1760 by Canaletto, the grand master of scenes of the city, portrays the glory of Venice’s early history. Popular Smithsonian Associates speaker Paul Glenshaw places the work in historical context and explores what shaped Caneletto and his era—one that overlapped the time of Vivaldi and Tiepolo. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

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, February 28, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Historian Janna Bianchini explores the roots of the Spanish Inquisition: fears of heresy, the drive to crusade, and the political strategems of Spain’s rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Based on the latest archaeological evidence, Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, examines how, why, and when Polynesian navigators ventured out into the forbidding seas to find new lands.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, March 4, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Join art historian Elaine Ruffolo as she explores the influence of the powerful Medici family, from their humble beginnings to their role as great patrons of the arts in Florence. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

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

Richard III is one of the most famous—and possibly the most infamous—of all British monarchs. In an absorbing program, Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores the various attempts to portray Richard III over the centuries, from the villain of Shakespeare to the heroic English king killed on the battlefield.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 9, 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.

Course
Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

From early megastars like Paderewski to marquee-name composers such as Tchaikovsky and Dvorák, America has long drawn members of Europe’s music world as a place to perform, work, and in some cases, settle. Speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin explores the siren call of America to musical artists and their lasting impressions on our cultural life.

Course
Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Over the centuries, there are major themes in the history of art that continue to appear and reappear. Art historian Joseph Cassar examines important masterworks and offers a new way to understand and appreciate the similarities among—and the uniqueness of—the artists and the cultural norms that influenced their choices. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Course
Thursday, March 10, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The three voyages of maritime exploration undertaken by Captain James Cook from 1768 to 1779 are perhaps the most famous of any in history. Filled with high drama, tragedy, intrigue, and humor, their stories have been told and retold for centuries. Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, investigates their enduring appeal. This session highlights Cook's first maritime expedition around the world.

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.

Course
Thursday, March 17, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The three voyages of maritime exploration undertaken by Captain James Cook from 1768 to 1779 are perhaps the most famous of any in history. Filled with high drama, tragedy, intrigue, and humor, their stories have been told and retold for centuries. Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, investigates their enduring appeal. This session highlights Cook's second voyage to determine if a "Great Southern Continent" really existed.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, March 18, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Join art historian Elaine Ruffolo as she explores the influence of the powerful Medici family, especially their golden age and legacy in Florence. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, March 19, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET

Historian Kevin Matthews discusses Winston Churchill’s tempestuous career as an army officer, war correspondent, member of Parliament, and minister in both Liberal and Conservative governments to reveal a man too often hidden by the post-World War II legends that surround him.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The two great academic centers of England—Oxford and Cambridge—are steeped in history reaching back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Scholar and historian Gary Rendsburg brings the verve and culture of these great university towns to life, sharing history flavored with a pleasant dose of Anglophilia.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

The wrongful court-martial of Alfred Dreyfus, a young officer—and a Jew—in 1895 Paris, has had far-reaching ramifications. Historian Ralph Nurnberger highlights the trial when Dreyfus was convicted and explains why the Dreyfus affair has had far-reaching ramifications, including setting the stage for the expansion of anti-Semitism in Europe. 

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 24, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The Romans ruled Britain from 43 A.D.– 410 A.D. During those centuries, the Romans drew the island into a tight web of international trade and imperial political intrigue. But the island’s conquerors also introduced innovations that eventually transformed this Roman province. Historian Jennifer Paxton explores the complicated impact of Roman rule on Britain.

Course
Thursday, March 24, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The three voyages of maritime exploration undertaken by Captain James Cook from 1768 to 1779 are perhaps the most famous of any in history. Filled with high drama, tragedy, intrigue, and humor, their stories have been told and retold for centuries. Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, investigates their enduring appeal. This session highlights Cook's third and last circumnavigation of the globe.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, March 29, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Current debates about women in Afghanistan suggest that they were subjugated for centuries. Anthropologist and archaeologist Sandra Scham reaches deep into the country’s past to reveal the complex and surprising stories of women revolutionaries, freedom fighters, intellectuals, and rulers who were instrumental in creating a country that by the 1960s was making great strides toward achieving its own version of modernization.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 31, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Though a generally familiar historical event, how much do we really know about what happened on this ill-fated 1789 voyage to Tahiti? Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, provides a fresh perspective on the mutiny by placing it in historical context and more.