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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

World History Programs

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, March 6, 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.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, March 6, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. ET

As the 19th century drew to a close, Vienna was an incubator for some of the most important figures in the arts, letters, and philosophy. Art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine explores the ways in which fin-de-siècle Vienna became the cradle of modernity in Central Europe.  (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Course
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Each of the more than 1,100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of complex civilizations, empires, and religions. Some, however, are more iconic than others. Historian Justin M. Jacobs offers an in-depth overview of four of the most significant ancient sites in Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Mesoamerica. This session focuses on Teotihuacan.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

In the 18th century, the British Royal Navy impressed, or forced, tens of thousands of seamen into a lifetime of service—a practice that drew resistance across the Empire. Historian Denver Brunsman examines the high human cost that enabled England’s maritime superiority.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 11, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

For 16th-century Dutch explorer William Barents, larger-than-life ambitions and an obsessive quest to chart a path through the deepest, most remote regions of the Arctic ended in both tragedy and glory. Drawing on her new book Icebound, journalist Andrea Pitzer shares this gripping tale of survival in a conversation with wildlife biologist and author Jonathan C. Slaght.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, March 15, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Over the centuries, the dramatic life of Marie Antoinette has continued to fascinate. Decorative arts historian Stefanie Walker appraises Marie-Antoinette’s cultural legacy—and why the myths about her are so enduring.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, March 20, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

The world was stunned when, in the spring of 1940, Germany invaded and quickly defeated France. Ronald C. Rosbottom, a scholar of French and European history, examines why knowing more about the impact of both occupation and resistance during WWII helps us understand aspects of France’s present political and diplomatic environment.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, March 22, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Young British stockbroker Nicholas Winton's split-second decision to save as many Jewish children as possible from the Nazis remained a secret for nearly 50 years. Historian Ralph Nurnberger highlights the story of this ordinary but remarkable man who was knighted for his efforts.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The Seine flows through every aspect of daily life in Paris. Longtime New York Times foreign correspondent Elaine Sciolino leads a fascinating journey through its history and its myriad reflections in art, literature, music, and film, revealing how this fabled river defines and shapes the essence of a great city.

Course
Tuesday, March 30 to April 20, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET

Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, explores some of the great masterworks of art and architecture created from the late-14th to the 16th centuries as he examines the intellectual trends and social context that gave rise to such giants as Giotto, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, April 2, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Mantua’s history is deeply connected to the Gonzaga dynasty. Their rule may have been tyrannical and warfare their principal occupation, but the family’s patronage brought into being some of the finest buildings and works of art of the Renaissance. Join art historian Elaine Ruffolo for a gaze into the dynamics of court life and the family who shaped a city. (World Art History Certificate elective, ½ credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Author Andrew Morton explores the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, from the idyll of their cloistered early life, through the divergent paths they took following their father's death, and Elizabeth's ascension to the throne.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, April 16, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From her home in Florence, art historian Elaine Ruffalo traces the ascendance of Rome as an imperial city and its corruption and decline. This is Part I of a two-part series. (World Art History Certificate elective, ½ credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

After enduring for so long, what made the Romanov dynasty vulnerable to come tumbling down a little more than a hundred years ago? Historian George Munro examines the policies of the rulers most responsible for the dynasty’s success in its first two centuries, the rise of Russia to an empire among the world’s first-rank powers, and the slow erosion of leadership that ultimately led to the tragic end of the Romanovs.

Lecture/Seminar
Saturday, April 24, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Drawing on historical sources including ancient Egypt, the classical world, and Asian art, the exuberant art deco style reflected the excitement of modern living in the 1920s and ’30s. Art historian Bonita Billman discusses the design movement that found expression in architecture, furniture, interiors, fashions, advertisements, and films. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

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

The 11,000-year old megalith Göbekli Tepe in a remote part of present-day Turkey has yet to yield definitive answers to the many questions swirling around it. Serif Yenen, a Turkish travel specialist, writer, and filmmaker, tells the story of this magnificent and mysterious built environment and what we can glean about the people who lived in a place once assumed to predate civilization.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the War for Independence, can be seen as a triumph for U.S. diplomacy that reset relations with Britain. Historian Richard Bell examines why the agreement also irreparably damaged the U.S.–French alliance and left Native Americans, loyalists, and fugitives from slavery to fend for themselves in a newly independent nation.

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

The 1066 invasion and occupation of England by troops led by Duke William II of Normandy changed the course of history. But the Norman Conquest never should have succeeded. Historian Jennifer Paxton examines the political and military background of the Battle of Hastings, an encounter in which the future William the Conquer needed everything to go his way—and why amazingly, it did.

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

From her home in Florence, art historian Elaine Ruffalo traces the ascendance of Rome from the chaos of the Dark Ages to its eventual emergence as one of the most artistically dazzling of Renaissance capitals. This is Part II of a two-part series. (World Art History Certificate elective, ½ credit)

Course
Monday, May 3 to Friday, May 7, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin combines lectures and piano demonstrations to explore the social, political, religious, and cultural influences that shaped the output of France’s great composers.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, May 3, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The trauma of the slave trade forever altered Africa’s cultural history. Art historian Kevin Tervala examines the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades, with a focus on how African artists—and the societies that they were a part of—reacted to the sudden and brutal disruption and transformation and depopulation of the world’s second-largest continent. He also highlights how the slave trade simultaneously brought great wealth, and with it, luxurious arts made in silver and gold. (World Art History Certificate elective, ½ credit)

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

Explore the Netherlands’ resistance during World War II through the amazing story of three young women whose duties included explosive sabotage and face-to-face assassinations.

Course
Thursday, May 6 to 27, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

From the bold and the beautiful art of the 17th century to the exuberant Rococo architecture of the 18th, art historian Rocky Ruggiero places the movements within a historical and cultural context, emphasizes artistic styles, and focuses on major creators and pivotal masterpieces. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

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 - 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.

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.