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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

World History Programs

Lecture/Seminar

Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: Reclaiming a Stolen Heritage

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

For decades, African nations have fought for the return of countless works of art stolen during the colonial era and placed in Western museums. Shortly after 1960, when 18 former colonies in Africa gained independence, a movement occurred to pursue repatriation. Art historian Bénédicte Savoy reveals this largely unknown but deeply important history. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

The Cemeteries of World War II: How We Chose To Honor Our Dead

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Four hundred thousand Americans lost their lives during the Second World War, many of whom are buried in national cemeteries in the continental United States, as well as others across the globe. Historian Christopher Hamner surveys the design and character of several of those cemeteries and examines how decisions made in the late 1940s and ’50s helped shape the way Americans remember that conflict.

Lecture/Seminar

The Ritchie Boys, Nisei, and WWII: The Language of War

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

During World War II, two groups of unconventional recruits from the Military Intelligence Training Service brought invaluable linguistic skills to their work as translators, interpreters, and interrogators: young European Jewish refugees and second-generation Japanese Americans. Historian David Frey tells the story of their wartime contributions and their enduring effects on the culture and politics of the Cold War-era.

Lecture/Seminar

Lost Civilizations: The Phoenicians

Monday, June 6, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The Phoenicians might not have survived the turmoil of antiquity, but their legacy endures. Yet, despite their many achievements, they remain an enigma. Author and lecturer Vadim S. Jigoulov, addresses the questions surrounding Phoenician identity, describes the scope of their maritime exploits, and discusses their portrayals in works by Greek and Jewish authors.

Lecture/Seminar

Dangerous Music

Monday, June 6, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Too political, too sensuous, too crude, too abstract: Works by even the most celebrated of composers—including Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky—became targets for outrage and censorship. Lecturer and concert pianist Rachel Franklin looks at several once-controversial musical works and the uproars, scandals, and even brawls they inspired during their times.

Course

Seeing History Through Artists’ Eyes

Monday, June 6, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Artists such as Picasso, David, and Goya came to grips with the political upheavals of their day with heroic and searing images that elicit our admiration or moral outrage. Art historian Judy Scott Feldman examines the complex interplay between artistic expression and social and political content through the centuries. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

The War that Made the Roman Empire

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

After Julius Caesar’s assassination, Romans wondered who would rule Rome? Would it be his former lieutenant, Mark Antony, or chosen heir Octavian? Historian Barry Strauss shines a new light on the campaign that proved pivotal for the leadership of Rome, as well as the three players at the heart of a fascinating narrative of jealousy, violence, love, deception, and desperation.

Lecture/Seminar

Papal Avignon

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

The first pope’s arrival in Avignon in 1309 changed both the papacy and this French city on the Rhône forever—and not always for the better. Charlie Steen, professor of history at the University of New Mexico, explores this alternative court and how lavish expenditure on art, architecture, and entertainment by popes created a hedonistic rather than a pious environment.

Lecture/Seminar

When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation

Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

In June 1940, German tanks entered Paris, the first militant step in what would stretch into four years of foreign occupation. Historian and author Ronald C. Rosbottom examines the era from the first days through the last as he reveals details of daily life in a wartime city under military and civilian occupation, and the brave people who fought against it.

Lecture/Seminar

Royal Rivals: The Cartiers and Fabergé

Friday, June 10, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

When the French jewelry firm Cartier and Russian Carl Fabergé decided to open showrooms abroad—on the same street in London—the scene was set for an epic international battle. Join curator Kieran McCarthy, a Fabergé specialist, and author Francesca Cartier Brickell, a Cartier descendant, for a sumptuously illustrated talk about the relationship and rivalry between two of the greatest names in luxury in the early 20th century.

Lecture/Seminar

The History of Vaccines

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Though humanity has benefited from them for more than two centuries, the pathway to effective vaccines has been neither neat nor direct. Medical historian Howard Markel traces the history of vaccines and immunization from its late-18th-century beginnings and how it may inform long-term solutions to contemporary problems with vaccine research, production, and supplies.

Course

Women Who Shaped the Musical World

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET

Throughout the history of Western music, men have claimed most of the spotlight, with scores of brilliant creative women relegated to the less brightly lit corners of the musical word. In programs featuring live piano performances, Rachel Franklin places them center stage as she examines their talent, grit, intellect, and drive, without which many of the most celebrated musical figures might have been significantly less successful.

Lecture/Seminar

The Manhattan Project’s Long Shadow

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The creation of the top-secret Manhattan Project in 1941 led to the first atomic bomb in 1945, which fundamentally changed the nature of American life and international relations. Explore the Manhattan Project’s history with historian Allen Pietrobon and how the existence of nuclear weapons forever changed the world.

Lecture/Seminar

Florence: Where the Renaissance Began

Friday, June 17, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Florence is replete with frescoes, paintings, sculpture, and architecture created in an era in which art was the cornerstone of cultural activity. From her home in Tuscany, art historian Elaine Ruffolo traces the history of this jewel of a city from the dawn of the Renaissance to the era of the Medici dukes. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Ancient Assyria: Art and Empire

Friday, June 24, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Between the ninth and seventh centuries B.C., the rulers of Assyria, a small kingdom in what is today northern Iraq, expanded through conquest to dominate the area from Egypt to Iran and created a series of magnificent royal cities adorned with palaces and temples. Paul Collins, a leading authority on the art of ancient Mesopotamia, leads a journey through these palaces to reveal how they were designed to ensure that Assyrian kingship would exist for all eternity. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Art + History: Evening Encores

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

If you’ve not experienced Paul Glenshaw’s dynamic series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context, now’s your chance. In this summer series, he reprises six of his earlier daytime sessions in livestreamed evening programs. In this session, Glenshaw discusses The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Mediterranean Exchanges: Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

For thousands of years the Mediterranean Basin has nurtured creative and powerful cultures. Alice C. Hunsberger, a professor of Islamic culture, explores Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Alexandria as key cities around the Mediterranean where the interplay of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam flourished in rich and complex cultures during the millennium between 500 and 1500 A.D.

Lecture/Seminar

Art + History: Evening Encores

Tuesday, July 12, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

If you’ve not experienced Paul Glenshaw’s dynamic series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context, now’s your chance. In this summer series, he reprises six of his earlier daytime sessions in livestreamed evening programs. In this session, Glenshaw discusses The 3rd of May by Francisco Goya. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Course

African Art Through the Centuries

Monday, July 18, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Art historian Kevin Tervala explores the vibrant artistic expressions of African art through an examination of the continent’s historical trajectory. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

King Arthur: Fact and Fiction

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Historian Jennifer Paxton examines the evidence for and against the existence of a 5th-century warrior leader named Arthur and traces the growth of his legend.

Lecture/Seminar

The Spice Routes: Culture and Cuisine

Wednesday, July 20, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

We take spices for granted today, but our spice cabinets are home to commodities that were once so exotic and desired that the excitement and competition they elicited spurred a complex sea trade that changed the course of history, the foods we eat, and who we are. Food writer Eleanor Ford traces the rich story of the ancient spice routes and explores how centuries of international trade laid the foundations for the modern world.

Lecture/Seminar

Mediterranean Exchanges: Cordoba, Venice, Cairo

Wednesday, July 20, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

For thousands of years the Mediterranean Basin has nurtured creative and powerful cultures. Alice C. Hunsberger, a professor of Islamic culture, explores Cordoba, Venice, and Cairo as key cities around the Mediterranean where the interplay of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam flourished in rich and complex cultures during the millennium between 500 and 1500 A.D.

Lecture/Seminar

Art + History: Evening Encores

Tuesday, July 26, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

If you’ve not experienced Paul Glenshaw’s dynamic series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context, now’s your chance. In this summer series, he reprises six of his earlier daytime sessions in livestreamed evening programs. In this session, Glenshaw discusses Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

The Story of the House of Windsor: What’s in a Name?

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

Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores the history of the House of Windsor, including its four monarchs, the royal family's German heritage, and its image in modern times.

Lecture/Seminar

Art, Architecture, and Ambition in Aragonese Naples

Friday, July 29, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The fall of Naples in 1442 not only brought Spanish rule, it transformed the city into a vital center of artistic production. Join Sophia D’Addio, a lecturer in art history at Columbia University, in an exploration of paintings, sculptures, medals, and architecture commissioned by the Aragonese rulers of Naples, most notably the commissions and collections of King Alfonso of Aragon. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

“Into the Jaws of Death”: Fighting the Crimean War

Tuesday, August 2, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

The brutal Crimean War exemplified the kind of competition among mighty European nations seen through much of the 18th and 19th centuries. Historian Christopher Hamner provides an overview of this war, emphasizing the ways it straddled the traditional and the modern ways to wage war—and informed other nations’ preparations for future conflicts.

Lecture/Seminar

Mediterranean Exchanges: Toledo, Palermo, Granada, Istanbul

Wednesday, August 3, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

For thousands of years the Mediterranean Basin has nurtured creative and powerful cultures. Alice C. Hunsberger, a professor of Islamic culture, explores Toledo, Palermo, Granada, and Istanbul as key cities around the Mediterranean where the interplay of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam flourished in rich and complex cultures during the millennium between 500 and 1500 A.D.

Lecture/Seminar

The Artistic Legacy of Ancient Greece

Saturday, August 6, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Without the gift of ancient Greece our world would be a very different place. Explore this unique legacy with author Nigel McGilchrist and follow its ongoing influence through the universal appeal of the humanity of its art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The French Revolution, starting in 1789, was one of the most significant upheavals in world history. Historian Alexander Mikaberidze examines this pivotal moment that continues to serve as an inspiration of the finest principles of modern democracy.

Lecture/Seminar

African-Jewish Cooking: A Cultural Crossroads with Culinary Historian Michael W. Twitty

Friday, August 12, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Culinary historian Michael W. Twitty is fascinated by the marriage of two of the most distinctive culinary cultures in the world today: the foods and traditions of the African Atlantic and the global Jewish diaspora. Join the James Beard Award–winning author as he explores the crossroads of these cuisines, as well as issues of memory and identity that grow from them.

Lecture/Seminar

French Fairytales

Monday, August 15, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Once upon a time, fairy tales were not the short, simple children’s stories we all know. Instead, they often carried subtle messages or warnings, or ridiculed powerful figures. Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman explore these mostly forgotten tales and their deeper meanings.

Lecture/Seminar

Breakout! Allied Operations After D-Day

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The June 6, 1944, landings in occupied France by British, Canadian, and American soldiers constituted only the first phase of Operation Overlord. The early successes were followed by weeks of Allied frustration and horrific casualties in the face of German forces. Kevin Weddle, a professor of military theory and strategy, examines why the story of the ultimate Allied breakout is one of innovation, imagination, determined leadership, and German mistakes—and was as important and instrumental in the final Allied victory over Nazi Germany as any other D-Day battle.

Lecture/Seminar

The Age of Confucius

Monday, August 22, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Historian Justin M. Jacobs analyzes the exciting intellectual ferment of the age of Confucius and the thinkers who followed in his footsteps during the Warring States era: Mozi, Mencius, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. The lively exchange of ideas among these philosophers helped define Chinese civilization itself and set the stage for the next two thousand years of dynasties and empires.

Lecture/Seminar

Art + History: Evening Encores

Tuesday, August 30, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

If you’ve not experienced Paul Glenshaw’s dynamic series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context, now’s your chance. In this summer series, he reprises six of his earlier daytime sessions in livestreamed evening programs. In this session, Glenshaw discusses Gassed by John Singer Sargent. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Brunelleschi and Ghiberti: The Rivalry that Ignited the Renaissance

Wednesday, August 31, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The 1401 competition between master artists Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi for the commission to create a set of bronze doors for the Florence Baptistry is generally considered the event that fueled the Renaissance. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Italian Renaissance, explores the creative duel that led to competitions among great artists becoming one of the central leitmotifs of the period. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

The Medici Villas: Tuscan Inspiration

Friday, September 2, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Used variously for pleasure and sports, scholarly pursuits, commercial enterprise, botanical experimentation, and amorous liaisons, the villas of the Medici family both expressed and influenced contemporary ideas on politics, philosophy, art, and design. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo explores several of the Medici’s public interests and private passions—and the architects they employed to create the luxurious backdrops for them. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Course

Art and Kingship in Southeast Asia

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Art historian Robert DeCaroli examines the cultural and artistic traditions of ancient Southeast Asia from the earliest archaeological evidence to the onset of colonialism, with a particular focus on the royal arts of the great civilizations that arose within the borders of modern Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Nikola Tesla: An Inventor Re-invents Military Technology

Friday, September 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In the 21st century, the life and accomplishments of inventor, engineer, and futurist Nikola Tesla have risen from almost total obscurity to topics of fresh interest. Author Marc J. Seifer, one of the world’s leading Tesla experts, surveys his most significant discoveries that continue to influence today's military technology and diplomatic strategies.

Lecture/Seminar

Medieval England's Art and Archaeology

Saturday, September 10, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Historian Cheryl White examines four significant monuments of art and archaeology of medieval England—the Sutton Hoo ship burial, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Bayeux Tapestry, and Canterbury Cathedral—each of which points to a specific turning point in the historical narrative of the 7th through 14th centuries. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Exploring the American Revolution: Yorktown and the French Alliance

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

The climactic battle of the American Revolution, the siege of Yorktown, was a decisive win for George Washington’s Continental Army. Historian Richard Bell analyzes why it was also a triumph for the unlikely but essential wartime alliance forged between patriot revolutionaries and France’s king, Louis XVI.

Lecture/Seminar

Insurrection in a Bavarian Beer Hall: Hitler’s Failed Putsch and Its Consequences

Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Munich was not Adolf Hitler’s hometown, but when he made it the headquarters of the Nazi party it became a critical steppingstone in his political rise. Historian Michael Brenner delves into what happened in that city during the ensuing years, why its transformation is crucial for understanding the Nazi era and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and how a failed coup known as the beer hall putsch turned into a successful grab for power many years later.

Lecture/Seminar

Regency London's "Ton": The Business of Pleasure

Monday, September 19, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

As fans of “Bridgerton” know, the “Ton” were the envied, trendsetting celebrities of the early 19th century. Historian Julie Taddeo looks beyond the glamour to examine the men and women who lived "in the fashionable mode" and for whom exacting rules circumscribed every area of social and personal conduct.

Lecture/Seminar

Building the Panama Canal: A Controversial Symbol of American Might

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Building the Panama Canal early in the 20th century was either a bold, decisive diplomatic stroke that claimed America’s rightful place on the world stage or a crude display of arrogance and corruption. Historian Ralph Nurnberger examines the sweep of the canal saga and addresses such problematic issues as why the U.S. claimed the right to build a canal in another country, and why Panama was chosen.

Lecture/Seminar

Margaret Beaufort and the Making of the Tudor Dynasty

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Margaret Beaufort cannily navigated the Wars of the Roses with a single goal in mind: assuring the royal future of her son Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII. Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores the rise of this matriarch within the fractious courts of the late 15th century and why she emerged as one of the most powerful women in England.