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

World History Programs

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The Valois dynasty, which rose to power in France in 1328, is largely overshadowed by their English rivals, the Tudors. Yet, the two centuries of the Valois reign were crucial in the establishment of France as a major European power. Historian Alexander Mikaberidze explores the dynasty’s rise—and fall.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

In 1940 Adolph Hitler had two choices when it came to the Mediterranean region: Stay out or commit sufficient forces to expel the British from the Middle East. Against his generals’ advice, the Fuhrer committed a major strategic blunder.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, August 6, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The golden period of the Serenissima Republic is reflected in the glorious art generated for its churches, confraternities, and palaces, including works by Bellini, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, and other masters. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo traces the history of this fabled city and the art and architecture created there. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, August 7, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Their scandals became the stuff of legends, but this royal family in just three generations, reshaped the monarchy and changed England, Europe, and the world. Scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger of the Folger Shakespeare Library leads a look behind the Tudors’ carefully contrived image of monarchy.

Course
Tuesday, August 10, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Paul Glenshaw reprises four of his most popular programs from his daytime series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context. As he explores seminal works by John Singleton Copley, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Edouard Manet, and Auguste Rodin he brings the world of the art and its creator to vivid life. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit) This session focuses on The Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint Gaudens.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, August 12, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores how London served as a backdrop and inspiration for William Shakespeare. She reveals how he was inspired by the humanity he observed in the city to create the unforgettable worlds of his plays.

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.

Course
Tuesday, August 24, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Paul Glenshaw reprises four of his most popular programs from his daytime series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context. As he explores seminal works by John Singleton Copley, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Edouard Manet, and Auguste Rodin he brings the world of the art and its creator to vivid life. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit) This session focuses on The Railway by Edouard Manet.

Course
Tuesday, August 31, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Paul Glenshaw reprises four of his most popular programs from his daytime series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context. As he explores seminal works by John Singleton Copley, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Edouard Manet, and Auguste Rodin he brings the world of the art and its creator to vivid life. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit) This session focuses on The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin.

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

The House of Bourbon remains one of the most historically important European royal houses. The Bourbons came to prominence in the 16th century when they first became the rulers of Navarre, in Spain, and later of France proper. Historian Alexander Mikaberidze explores their rise to power—and the root causes of their fall.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, September 9, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The National Archaeology Museum in Naples is one of the most spectacular showcases of antiquities in the world, with treasures from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and their sister towns and villas. Join art historian and tour guide Laura R. Weinstein live from Rome as she highlights some of the most fascinating collections of this visit-worthy cultural gem in Naples. (World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit)

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

Join Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger on a journey to Regency England as seen through the eyes of Jane Austen and her novels.  She provides fans of Austen added insight into the characters and their lives, and aficionados of history with the details and dramas that made this one of the most fascinating eras in English history.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Over the centuries, Notre Dame Cathedral has survived myriad threats to its survival, emerging as a resilient yet vulnerable symbol of the historical and cultural legacy of Paris and all of France. Art historian Judy Scott Feldman surveys the cathedral’s history and the ongoing restoration and historic preservation efforts to return the cathedral to its condition before the devastating April 2019 blaze. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, Masada is an ancient fortress overlooking the Dead Sea. Historian Ralph Nurnberger explores the myths and realities of this famous settlement and site of Jewish resistance against Roman troops in 73 A.D. 

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET

The Korean Peninsula is arguably one of the most perplexing and paradoxical places on the planet. Today, South Korea conjures up images of a dynamic, vibrant, and modern country. North Korea evokes images of an archaic, desperately poor, and unstable society. Explore Korea’s unique culture and long history—and how this tiny corner at the northeastern tip of Asia will likely play a pivotal global role in the 21st century.

Course
Thursday, September 23, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Join Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, for in-depth looks at four UNESCO World Heritage sites that have been profoundly affected by nearby volcanoes, from Pompeii to Virunga National Park. Each lavishly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience, incorporating insights drawn from current scholarship and research. This session focuses on Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Course
Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Join Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, for in-depth looks at four UNESCO World Heritage sites that have been profoundly affected by nearby volcanoes, from Pompeii to Virunga National Park. Each lavishly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience, incorporating insights drawn from current scholarship and research. This session focuses on Thingvellir.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

When Hernando Cortés and his company of conquistadores landed near present-day Veracruz, Mexico, in April of 1519, he kept hearing “Motecuhzoma, Motecuhzoma, Motecuhzoma.” This was Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, king of the Mexica and emperor of the powerful Aztec empire. Anthropologist Frances F. Berdan examines some of the most interesting (and often misunderstood) aspects of Aztec life.

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

The official and personal residences of Queen Elizabeth II scattered through the United Kingdom are magnificent living palaces, estates, and castles that are used daily to serve the needs of the royal family. Join monarchy expert Andrew Lannerd to explore the vibrant history of each of these famed residences in detail, including behind-the-scenes accounts of events such as a royal wedding at Windsor Castle and a private party that celebrated the queen’s 80th birthday.

Course
Thursday, October 7, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Join Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, for in-depth looks at four UNESCO World Heritage sites that have been profoundly affected by nearby volcanoes, from Pompeii to Virunga National Park. Each lavishly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience, incorporating insights drawn from current scholarship and research. This session focuses on Mount Fuji.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, October 8, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Ambitious, extravagant, progressive, and oftentimes sexually notorious, the Sforza family took over the ducal throne of Milan in 1450, ushering in a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo reveals how Milan and its rulers exemplified the political, cultural, religious, and economic aspirations of Renaissance Italy. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

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.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, October 18, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Understanding the machinations of British diplomacy during World War I is essential to comprehending today’s Middle East. Historian Ralph Nurnberger suveys the fascinating cast of characters involved in often-contradictory secret negotiations over boundaries, as well as how the results contributed to more than a century of conflicts in the region and the establishment of the modern states of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Great art is timeless, and speaks to us across time, culture and space. Yet great works come from real people living real lives. Paul Glenshaw looks at three iconic works by Jacques-Louis David that capture Napoleon and how the collaboration of artist and subject established an imperial image for the world. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

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

We live surrounded by drowned worlds according to geologist Patrick Nunn. Join him live from Australia as he recounts the histories of some of these shadow lands and what their understanding implies, drawing on research informed by science as well as human memories of submerged lands retained in oral traditions and eyewitness observations that became encoded in myth.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, October 25, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex riveted a public desperate for distraction from the ongoing pandemic. Historian Julie Taddeo explores their withdrawal from the royal family—Megxit—and its fallout within a larger historical context, linking it to past scandals from the Georgian era through the late 20th century.

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

The Sumerians are famous as a people who created the world’s earliest civilization. Living on the fertile plains of what is today southern Iraq (ancient Sumer), they developed a flourishing culture between about 3500 and 2000 B.C. Paul Collins, a curator at Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum and author of The Sumerians: Lost Civilizations, tells the story of how a Sumerian people came to be “discovered” and how things are not always as they seem.

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
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
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
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
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.