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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

World History Programs

Live Streaming

In this 4-session course, come on a virtual tour of four of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, including both well-known and lesser-known sites with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University. This session focuses on the Potala Palace.

Date of event
Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

From the vibrant paintings found in Stone Age caves to works of contemporary creators, the arts of Africa have been shaped by unique creative insight as well as by specific political, social, religious, and economic forces. Art historian Kevin Tervala explores these vibrant artistic expressions through an examination of the continent’s historical trajectory. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Date of event
Monday, July 13 to Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Mummy masks, maps, bibles, manuscripts, journals, and even old walls can have important undiscovered stories to tell. Michael B. Toth discusses how his pioneering work in imaging technology has brought once-lost corners of history to light.

Date of event
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

In this 4-session course, come on a virtual tour of four of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, including both well-known and lesser-known sites with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University. This session focuses on Samarkand.

Date of event
Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

In the late 19th century, Paris was the only place to be for any self-respecting aspiring American artist. Art historian Bonita Billman highlights the city’s ascension as the center of the art world and how it transformed the young painters who in turn transformed American art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, July 25, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.
Live Streaming

Seventy-five years after U.S. war planes dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the actions that helped bring WWII to a close remain highly contentious. Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, examines the decisions behind these history-changing acts, their legacy, and why we’re still divided about the military and moral justifications that were used to usher in the nuclear age of warfare.

Date of event
Monday, July 27, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Drawing on his new book The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson offers a vivid portrait of London and Winston Churchill during the Blitz, detailing how the prime minister taught the British people “the art of being fearless.”

Date of event
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

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)

Date of event
Friday, July 31, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Six months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Navy suffered a stunning and lopsided defeat at the hands of the American Pacific fleet near Midway atoll. Historian Chris Hamner of George Mason University examines why the encounter was not just the most decisive naval battle of the Pacific War, but one of the most consequential in all of history.

Date of event
Monday, August 3, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

In this 4-session course, come on a virtual tour of four of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, including both well-known and lesser-known sites with Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University. This session focuses on the Taj Mahal.

Date of event
Thursday, August 6, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

When Michelangelo signed the contract with Pope Julius II in 1508 to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, little did he know the turmoil that awaited him. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, examines the artistic importance of the ceiling and the human drama behind its creation, as well as the chapel’s history and its exquisite art produced before Michelangelo. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date of event
Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Pre-revolutionary America took center stage in the world’s first truly global war in the mid-18th century. Historian Richard Bell examines how this bitter contest among the great empires of Britain, France, and Spain played out on American soil and how it sowed the seeds of the imperial crisis that would culminate in the new nation’s independence.

Date of event
Monday, August 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

From the 1790s until World War I, Western museums filled their shelves with art and antiquities from around the world that are now widely seen as stolen or plundered. Historian Justin M. Jacobs examines an exodus of cultural treasures from northwestern China that reveals a path shaped by factors more complex—and surprising—than coercion, corruption, and deceit.

Date of event
Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

There's more to the gowns, crowns, uniforms, and regalia of British royalty than meets the eye. Join Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger for a glimpse into the palace closet that reveals how monarchs used their wardrobes to project power, influence, politics, and personality.

Date of event
Wednesday, August 26, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Great art is timeless. Paul Glenshaw examines the iconic painting Guernica by Pablo Picasso, exploring its historical context, delving into the era of its artist, the present he inhabited, and what shaped his vision and creations. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

As our nation experiences another election season, historian Diane Harris Cline examines how ancient Greece’s political system reflects a civilization that valued and encouraged literacy and education, a love of beauty, technological and intellectual progress, and civic engagement.

Date of event
Thursday, September 3, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

In the early 16th century, the expanding Ottoman Empire became a political and economic powerhouse that continued to flourish until the early 20th century. Historian and author Alan Mikhail examines one of the key factors in its dominance: the rule of Selim, the empire’s most significant, powerful, and feared sultan.

Date of event
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

The greatest of the barbarian rulers who rose to power after the fall of the Roman Empire was both a warrior king marked by a lust for territory and plunder and a great patron of the arts, learning, and religion. Historian Richard Abels explores the defining facets of the man and the myth behind the so-called Father of Europe.

Date of event
Monday, September 14, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

What happens when there’s a power struggle within a power couple? Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger examines some of Britain’s most famous royal pairs and the challenges they faced in maintaining a happy marriage while one of them ruled the kingdom.

Date of event
Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Typically associated with domes, minarets, and rich decoration, mosques have achieved iconic status in popular conceptions of Islamic art and culture. Ünver Rüstem, assistant professor of Islamic art and architecture at Johns Hopkins University, explores the geographical and cultural diversity of the Islamic world through mosques that extend from Spain to India and from the 7th century into our own time.

Date of event
Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Women in aprons and button-up boots were the beating heart of the tenement neighborhoods that serve as the backdrop for the PBS series “Call the Midwife.” These no-nonsense matriarchs who ruled London’s sooty cobblestone streets responded with astonishing ingenuity, resilience, and strength as they faced the horrors of WWII just beyond their own front doors. Join author Kate Thompson and historian Alan Capps as they delve deep into the social history of some truly remarkable women.

Date of event
Monday, September 21, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

As she traces Brexit’s complicated past, present, and future, historian Jennifer Paxton examines issues that reveal the tensions at the heart of a nation that may reshape the United Kingdom more profoundly than any political event in the past 300 years.

Date of event
Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Historian Jennifer Paxton explores the complex history of Ireland’s interactions with the outside world that led to the transformation of the island over a thousand years from a relatively isolated island to a colony of its far more powerful neighbor, England.

Date of event
Saturday, October 3, 2020 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. ET
Live Streaming

Nathan Raab, the preeminent American dealer in rare documents, tells the fascinating story of how he learned to tell the difference between real and forged artifacts, and of many amazing finds that were nearly lost to the ages.

Date of event
Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Biblical scholar and historian Gary Rendsburg leads a virtual tour across 2,000 years of known Jewish history to explore fascinating stories of less-known Jewish communities.

Date of event
Saturday, October 24, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.

From its origins in the ancient civilization to the present, the complex culture of South Asia has given rise to some of the world’s most remarkable art. Art historian Robert DeCaroli highlights the artistic traditions and historical changes within the Indian subcontinent from the earliest archaeological evidence to the onset of colonialism. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Date of event
Monday, November 16 to December 7, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Naval historian David Rosenberg and three retired U.S. Navy officers examine the tensions and strategies that grew out of the face-off between America and the Soviet Union over Russia’s decision to place nuclear missiles in Cuba. They reveal how the USS Sam Houston, a Polaris submarine deployed in the Mediterranean, played a significant but little-known role in assuring European security against potential Soviet aggression.

Date of event
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

Austerlitz, Borodino, and Waterloo are among the places most closely associated with the era of the Napoleonic Wars. But this period of nearly continuous Franco-British conflict affected nations far beyond Europe. Historian Alexander Mikaberidze analyzes the immediate and extended consequences of the political tremors that spread as far as the Americas, Africa, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as across the Atlantic and the Indian oceans.

Date of event
Saturday, November 21, 2020 - 9:30 a.m.