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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Lectures

Monday, August 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - 8:00 p.m. ET

As part of of Space Tuesdays with George Mason University Observatory, Peter Plavchan and Michael Summers, professors of physics and astronomy at GMU, and John Callas, former manager of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover program, look at the prospects of life on Mars past and present through scientific evidence collected by robotic landers and rovers and remote-sensing orbiters.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET

Aviation writer and filmmaker Paul Glenshaw tells the story of the epic race between two engineering teams who ran a neck-and-neck race to be the first to fly in the fall and winter of 1903. One was a pair of brothers—Orville and Wilbur Wright. The other team was Dr. Samuel Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian, and his assistant, Charles Matthews Manly. We know who won—but do we know why?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

South Africa is the eighth largest global wine-producer and its wine industry is among the oldest of the New World. Jim Clarke, marketing manager for Wines of South Africa, discusses how wind, sea, and mountains have shaped South Africa’s vineyards and what these defining elements bring to its wines.

Monday, August 24, 2020 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET

Discover the power of reflective writing in an online workshop taught by the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, Mary Hall Surface. Inspired by an evocative contemporary painting, explore metaphors—both visual and verbal—to help navigate your experience of the present moment. 

Monday, August 24, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The new film Tesla is a freewheeling take on the career of visionary inventor Nikola Tesla (played by Ethan Hawke) and his frustrations and breakthroughs in transmitting electrical power and light. Join award-winning filmmaker Michael Almereyda, who wrote, directed, and produced Tesla, and Kyle MacLachlan, who plays Tesla’s rival Thomas Edison, as they discuss their experiences in making a biographical film that—like its subject—is highly unconventional.

Monday, August 24, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Join astrophysicists Katie Mack and Sara Seager for a fascinating conversation about their work, their new books, and the wonders of the universe. Theoretical cosmologist and self-described “connoisseur of cosmic catastrophes” Mack offers a witty take on five theories of how the universe could end, and Seager, a planetary scientist, shares how while searching the universe for another Earth, she found deeper ways to connect to the world she already knew in the wake of her husband’s unexpected death.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Homer’s epic poems, masterful retellings of the legendary Trojan War and its aftermath, mark the dawn of Western literature. Classical archeologist Frederick Winter delves into the Iliad and Odyssey to examine the Greeks’ experiences of war from the perspective of the latest scholarship and archaeological findings.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Join experts from Cheesemonster Studio for a lively and educational virtual evening that explores the art of combining cheese and your favorite adult beverages. They guide participants through curated pairings of five cheeses with one wine, one beer, and one spirit, examining how their flavors work together to create some of the best duets in all of food and beverage.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The question of how to meet the challenges of climate change continues to take on an increasingly larger role in the worldwide debate about the future of our planet. Olúfémi O. Táíwò, an assistant professor of political philosophy and ethics at Georgetown University, provides an overview of these issues as he examines the range of pathways that are under discussion by communities, countries, and policymakers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET

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)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The fragile beauty and astounding endurance of butterflies have long fascinated us. Science journalist Wendy Williams looks at how scientists, gardeners, naturalists, and citizen scientists joined together to decipher the secrets of butterflies in order to protect them—and to learn what they might tell us about meeting the challenges of climate change.

Thursday, September 3, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 7:00 p.m. ET

Scientists are reevaluating the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, uncovering a remarkable intelligence that encompasses actions once considered uniquely human. From avian cheating and kidnapping to collaboration and altruism, author Jennifer Ackerman discusses her investigation into the bird way of being.

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Each fall, the Supreme Court justices begin hearing and deliberating the country’s most important—and often most controversial—legal cases. Get in on the conversation as a panel of legal experts on the Supreme Court preview and debate critical issues raised in some of the cases the court will take up.

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The long shadow of the Civil War hangs over the series of great novels that William Faulkner wrote about a largely un-Reconstructed South. Author Michael Gorra sheds light on the inner and outer forces that shaped Faulkner’s literary imagination and discusses how the war is an inescapable point of reference in his characters.

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

What qualities make a great leader? Drawing on his new book How to Lead, businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein examines how leaders across a variety of fields—from Anthony Fauci to Jeff Bezos to Richard Branson—make decisions, develop bold visions, deal with success and failure, and rise to meet crises. Though each is distinctive, Rubenstein finds shared lessons in leadership in the careers of these change-makers.

Friday, September 11, 2020 - 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET

Since we’re spending more time indoors these days, finding ways to bring the beauty of nature into our homes is more important than ever. Join noted floral designer Sarah von Pollaro in an informative webinar in which she demonstrates how to create beautiful arrangements step by step.

Monday, September 14, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 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.

Monday, September 14, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Pamela Nadell, director of the Jewish Studies program at American University, traces the history of anti-Semitism in the United States from colonial days to its dangerous contemporary rise and examines how that resurgence forces the nation to address its uniquely American forms.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 8:00 p.m. ET

As part of Space Tuesdays with George Mason University Observatory, Peter Plavchan and Michael Summers, professors of astronomy and physics at GMU, and Dr. Natalie Hinkel, planetary astrophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute, explore stellar evolution and the life and death of red giants, yellow suns, and brown dwarfs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

What should our relationship to the planet look like when we finally emerge from our homes? John Judge, president and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club, makes the argument that to preserve the environment, a revolution must take place in which every person becomes an advocate for nature and the outdoors.

Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET

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.

Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Monday, September 21, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

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.

Monday, September 21, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Join Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University in spirited lectures and informal discussions about novels that explore stories set in Spain, India, the Dominican Republic, and the world of classical Greek mythology. This session discusses In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Meeting the shock and awe of extreme floods, droughts, storms, and fires calls for plans and action—and authoritative scientific information. Roger S. Pulwarty, the senior scientist in the physical sciences division at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, examines the significance and sources of that information as countries, communities, and businesses make critical decisions in response to changing weather and extreme climate trends.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The novelist behind the runaway hit film reveals how his newest book gives a glamorous and contemporary East Asian spin to one of E.M. Forster’s most beloved romances.

Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The British passed it off as an “unhappy disturbance,” but to city leaders the March 1770 confrontation with Redcoats that left five Bostonians dead was “a horrid massacre.” Historian Richard Bell examines why the complicated story of the “affray on King Street” is even more fascinating than Paul Revere’s famous engraving of it has led us to believe.

Friday, September 25, 2020 - 7:00 p.m. ET

Smithsonian magazine was launched in the spring of 1970—as was the first Earth Day—and from the start it has been the trusted go-to source on the natural world and environmental issues. Mark these anniversaries by revisiting some of the magazine’s first articles about how we understand our planet with the journalists, photographers, and other experts who brought these stories to life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The end of the Great War ushered in a decade of economic prosperity and cultural dynamism unprecedented in America. Stef Woods, a popular speaker on cultural topics, looks at the explosion of new directions in the 1920s, and considers what comparisons may be drawn between that still-resonant era and today, as our ’20s begins. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Two and a half millennia ago, the Buddha taught that inner peace and freedom could be developed and cultivated through training in the mindfulness, compassion, and insight found in the practice of meditation. Join Deepak Chopra to explore how meditation can serve as a potentially powerful tool to meet the challenges of the moment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Bakari Sellers, a CNN analyst and one of the youngest state representatives in South Carolina history, examines the plight of the South's dwindling rural population of black working-class men and women. Drawing on his new book My Vanishing Country, he surveys the struggles that shape their lives: gaining access to healthcare, making ends meet as factories shut down, holding on to traditions as towns erode, and forging a path forward without succumbing to despair.

Thursday, October 1, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In the 1950s, the spotlight on New York City’s abstract expressionist movement nearly always fell on male painters. Art critic Judy Pomeranz takes an in-depth look at five gutsy but overlooked women whose work in the groundbreaking Ninth Street Art Exhibition of 1951 boldly claimed their places in the postwar avant garde. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Thursday, October 1, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

As civility seems to decline due to political polarization and the increasingly unfettered climate of social media, does remaining civil in social and political discourse still have value? Olúfémi O. Táíwò of Georgetown University unpacks the role of civility in today’s world and how its potential benefits—and hazzards—relate to the search for social justice.

Friday, October 2, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET

Christian churches and other world religions are increasingly incorporating environmentalism into their teachings. Ethicist and author William Barbieri explores how and why these religious traditions are responding to ecological challenges, and what we can learn from this process regarding the role of religions in the modern world.

Monday, October 5, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Beyond its dazzling sunsets and whitewashed stucco, the Aegean island of Santorini boasts one of the best-preserved archaeological sites of the late Greek Bronze Age. Art historian Renee Gondek covers the history of this period and offers a detailed examination of the island and the colorful frescoes found in many of its ancient structures. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The bestselling author offers a very personal look at how she created a riveting new novel about the choices that change the course of our lives.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

For Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei was “the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether.” Astrophysicist Mario Livio examines Galileo’s monumental achievements in astronomy, mechanics, and the development of the scientific method.

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

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.

Friday, October 9, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

For Picasso, Paul Cezanne was simply “the father of us all.” Art historian Joseph Cassar examines key works that reflect how this pioneer of modernism pointed to future developments in art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Friday, October 9, 2020 - 6:00 p.m. ET

Join Food and Wine magazine’s 2019 Sommelier of the Year Erik Segelbaum in an enjoyable interactive workshop series designed to boost the wine IQ of both novices and seasoned aficionados. He dives into the worlds of French and Italian wine, covering four regions whose output is world-renowned—and you follow along with an at-home tasting kit. This workshop focuses on Northern Italy wine regions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Seen through American eyes, July 4, 1776 marked a triumphant moment. To the British, the American Revolution looked quite different. Drawing on the latest scholarship, historian Richard Bell explores the birth of the new nation through a variety of contemporary British perspectives, arguing that it was an equally defining moment for its people and the future of the British empire.

Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The 1970 Apollo 13 mission almost ended in tragedy when an explosion occurred on its way to a moon landing. Learn how a possible disaster was turned into a global rescue mission.

Monday, October 19, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Though voters usually hear that the current one is “the most important ever,” some presidential elections have proven more consequential and historic than others. As the 2020 vote approaches, historian Ralph Nurnberger looks back at memorable 19th-century contests that led to landmark political shifts, the dissolution of major political parties, changes in national policies, and some unexpected losers and winners.

Monday, October 19, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Join Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University in spirited lectures and informal discussions about compelling novels that explore stories set in Spain, India, the Dominican Republic, and the world of classical Greek mythology. This session discusses The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

In 1952, naval architect William Francis Gibbs completed the finest, fastest, and most beautiful ocean liner of his time, the S.S. United States, hailed as a technological masterpiece in period when “made in America” meant the best. Historian Steven Ujifusa tells a tale of ingenuity and enterprise as he examines how Gibbs and his vision transformed an industry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

How can you tell a downy woodpecker from a hairy one? A Cooper’s hawk from a sharp-shinned hawk? Liana Vitali, naturalist and educator at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, shares tips, facts, and resources for dedicated birders and birding beginners alike.

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Explore the life and career of Edward Hopper, one of the great American realists of modern art, with art historian Bonita Billman. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Monday, October 26, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Though voters usually hear that the current one is “the most important ever,” some presidential elections have proven more consequential and historic than others. As the 2020 vote approaches, historian Ralph Nurnberger looks back at memorable 20th-century contests that led to landmark political shifts, the dissolution of major political parties, changes in national policies, and some unexpected losers and winners.

Monday, October 26, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

What kind of nature drove Thomas Cromwell, chief courtier of Henry VIII and architect of the English Protestant Reformation, to carry out his political agenda in the face of enemies of all stripes? Historian Jennifer Paxton explores the real story behind the intrigues of a court where religion, politics, bureaucracy, and sex were entangled in a dangerous mix that led Cromwell to follow his adversary Sir Thomas More to the scaffold.

Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

For centuries, philosophers have attempted to answer the question of whether humans are naturally good or evil without any definitive results. Evolutionary biologist Rui Diogo turns instead to the sciences, anthropology, history, sociology, and other fields to examine at what empirical data says about our basic nature—and offers some surprising insights into this age-old inquiry.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

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.

Monday, November 16, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Join Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University in spirited lectures and informal discussions about novels that explore stories set in Spain, India, the Dominican Republic, and the world of classical Greek mythology. This session discusses The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Historian Allen Pietrobon explores American food culture since 1850 and how, throughout American history, food has been a battleground where culture, ethnicity, race, and identity clash.