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Lectures

It happens to even the most adventurous travelers: You get to your destination only to find the lines are long, the crowds are pushy, and the whole experience is disappointing and exhausting. Join Washington Post travel writer Andrea Sachs and other travel pros as they discuss destinations to avoid, places to visit instead, and how to be a more responsible traveler today.

Event date
Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The long relationship between the ancient world’s most profound philosopher and his student—that world’s most powerful conqueror—reveals a stark contrast: One dominated by the power of his mind, the other by the might of his sword. Author and classics professor John Prevas examines a fascinating saga of ideals, ego, brutality, and betrayal that played out against the backdrop of an empire.

Event date
Thursday, September 5, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

There’s far more to Thomas Edison’s story than the light bulb and the phonograph. Paul Israel, director and general editor of the Edison Papers at Rutgers University, offers a portrait of an American genius who transformed the concept of invention and played a key role in developing some of the most important technologies of the modern era.

Event date
Friday, September 6, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The beloved, sumptuously produced “Downton Abbey” was always a feast for the eyes. In anticipation of the forthcoming movie based on the series, food historian Francine Segan invites you to vicariously take your seat at the Crawley family’s table (and also peek into the kitchen) to learn what went into planning, serving, and attending an Edwardian-era feast that only great houses like Downton could produce.

Event date
Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 2:00 p.m.

We know him as one of the world’s most prolific creators, but there’s an overlooked role that’s worth considering when we celebrate the genius of Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance foodie. Food historian Francine Segan sets da Vinci in the context of the culinary culture and manners of the Italian Renaissance and explores his appetites for a life he richly savored.

Event date
Monday, September 9, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Hundred Years War helped shape both England and France into powerful nation-states and changed the face of warfare forever. Historian Jennifer Paxton examines how an apparently minor trade dispute escalated into a seemingly endless war that forced all of Europe to take sides.

Event date
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Get ready to meet some of the world’s most fascinating denizens of the sea. Marine biologist and underwater photographer Richard Smith provides a colorful introduction to the teeming life in the depths of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

Event date
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Long considered one of the Smithsonian’s treasures, James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room is an icon of aesthetic design. Kerry Roeder, the Luce curatorial fellow in American art at the Freer|Sackler, and an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University, discusses the scandalous history of the room and the challenges posed by the museum’s attempt to re-create the artist’s original vision of the space. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Event date
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Forty-six years after his death, Picasso still looms large in our world. Art historian Nancy G. Heller examines an extraordinary career that sparked both scandal and reverence and that came to define the creative spirit of 20th century art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Event date
Friday, September 13, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The dawn of aerial warfare in WWI introduced a new breed of military hero: the dashing flying ace in the skies over France. Aviation historian Mark Wilkins examines the unforeseen psychological toll suffered by these young pilots during and after the war, and how military medicine responded with the development of a new field of specialty, aviation psychiatry.

Event date
Monday, September 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Space historian Rod Pyle, in collaboration with the National Space Society, provides an inside look at the next few decades of spaceflight and long-term plans for exploration, utilization, and settlement.

Event date
Monday, September 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux of New York University digs into the natural history of life on earth to provide a new perspective on the similarities between us and our ancestors in deep time. He surveys terrestrial evolution to shed new light on how nervous systems evolved in animals, how the brain developed, and what it means to be human.

Event date
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Art historian Ünver Rüstem examines how mid-18th century Turkish architects adopted European forms to craft a new and politically charged image for the capital city of Istanbul. These surprising structures, a blend of Byzantine and Baroque design, forged a new international image for the Ottoman Empire as it staked its claim to power on the modern world stage. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Event date
Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Art historian Robert DeCaroli examines the sites and structures that made up the urban landscape of the Khmer Empire and traces the historical shifts, royal decisions, religious beliefs, and cultural processes that led to its development. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Event date
Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

D.C. bartender and spirits expert Derek Brown raises a toast to the fascinating history of the cocktail—and its place in America’s history as well. He traces the potable's birth, rise, fall, and eventual resurrection, spotlighting some of the men and women who made their mark on cocktail culture.

Event date
Friday, September 20, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Woodrow Wilson’s post-WWI idea of collective security became realized in the founding of the League of Nations in 1920—and collapsed 26 years later. Historian and author Garrett Peck examines how the league came to be, its successes and failures, and its resurrection through the United Nations after World War II.

Event date
Monday, September 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

There’s been a recent spike of interest in all things fungal, with more people eating mushrooms, and more people baffled by trying to identify them. Mycologist and author Lawrence Millman explains why mushrooms are essential to our planet’s health, their roles in nature, and why he’d rather gaze admiringly at one than sauté it.

Event date
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Perplexed by wine lists or selecting a bottle to bring to dinner? Join Food and Wine magazine’s 2019 Sommelier of the Year, Erik Segelbaum, in an enjoyable interactive workshop designed to boost the wine IQ and confidence of both novices and seasoned aficionados.

Event date
Friday, September 27, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Perplexed by wine lists or selecting a bottle to bring to dinner? Join Food and Wine magazine’s 2019 Sommelier of the Year, Erik Segelbaum, in an enjoyable interactive workshop designed to boost the wine IQ and confidence of both novices and seasoned aficionados.

Event date
Saturday, September 28, 2019 - 3:00 p.m.

Ken Walsh, White House correspondent and political analyst for U.S. News & World Report, offers a lively fact-based and nonpartisan examination of the consequential presidency of Donald Trump and how the Democrats are preparing to challenge him.

Event date
Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

With his tales of mystery and imagination, Edgar Allan Poe both broke new literary ground and set the pattern for generations of writers to come. On the anniversary of his death, explore the life and art of the original “man in black” with author Daniel Stashower and actor Scott Sedar.

Event date
Monday, October 7, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Raise a toast to the indomitable American women who fought for the right to vote. The informal social evening includes a private view of a Portrait Gallery exhibition that chronicles the history of the suffragist movement, as well as the opportunity to meet its curator.

Event date
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Sometimes a pie in the hand is more tempting than one on in a plate. Local food writer and pie maker Cathy Barrow digs into the world of small tarts, turnovers, empanadas, knishes, fried pies, and poppers, and offers a step-by-step demo of a recipe that makes turning out a free-form pie practically foolproof.

Event date
Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Though now half a century in the past, the turbulent 1960s continues to reverberate in our society, culture, and institutions. Leonard Steinhorn of American University explores the decade’s meaning and its legacy—which may well be the widening dividing line in our contemporary politics.

Event date
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Learn how Jane Austen’s novels provide a window into life in Regency England, creating a world of country retreats, London townhouses, balls, fashionable finery, and romantic (if sometimes-rocky) courtships. But the realities of war, poverty, and society’s ills rumble through the novels, threatening to disrupt family reputations and elegantly lived lives during that era.

Event date
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Have you ever found yourself pondering deeply cheesy thoughts: What makes certain cheeses smell, look, or taste the way that they do? How do I serve them? Where best to find them locally? Join Alice Bergen Phillips, Cheesemonster Studio’s founder and head cheesemonger, for a lively investigation that serves up all of the answers—and a tasting, too.

Event date
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

In recent years, the longtime popularity of bourbon and rye had been on the decline, but these venerable all-American drinks have made a spirited comeback. Learn how—and about the traditions and tastes behind them—from Andrea Wilson, executive vice president of Michter's Distillery in Louisville, and Lew Bryson, author of Tasting Whiskey. Cheers!

Event date
Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Jancis Robinson, described as "the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world,” shares her valuable expertise and insights on what’s new in the world of wine. Then raise a glass as you sample a generous selection of wines representative of today’s trends.

Event date
Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 2:30 p.m.

Using cross-examinations conducted by lawyers from Abraham Lincoln to Atticus Finch and cases from My Cousin Vinny to the Scopes Trial, legal pros Edith Marshall and Jack Marshall demonstrate and dissect epic battles of wits in actual practice and in popular culture.

Event date
Monday, October 21, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Can a food truck be a symbol of social justice? What happens when natural entrepreneurs are provided the right resources and hands-on technical assistance? Find the answers in the story of La Cocina, a nonprofit small-business incubator in the Mission District of San Francisco that is turning home cooks into businesswomen.

Event date
Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

In the early 19th century, fortunes were made and lost importing luxury goods from China to the American marketplace, a trade hampered by the time it took for the ocean journey. Historian Steven Ujifusa tells the colorful story of a handful of cutthroat competitors who raced to create the fastest clipper ships to carry their cargo to American shores—and transformed the design and technology of shipbuilding in the process.

Event date
Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Have you ever found yourself pondering deeply cheesy thoughts: What makes certain cheeses smell, look, or taste the way that they do? How do I serve them? Where best to find them locally? Join Alice Bergen Phillips, Cheesemonster Studio’s founder and head cheesemonger, for a lively investigation that serves up all of the answers—and a tasting, too.

Event date
Sunday, October 27, 2019 - 2:00 p.m.

Though Jews have been part of British society since the 11th century, that long relationship was often a troubled one. Historian Virginia W. Newmyer surveys a cultural and religious history in which achievement and acceptance prevailed over suspicion and ignorance.

Event date
Monday, October 28, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Art historian Aneta Georgevska-Shine explores the distinctive facets of Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio's creative approach, and his influence on artists associated with his studio, including Leonardo, Ghirlandaio, and Perugino. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Event date
Monday, October 28, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

We’ve learned much about our cosmos and its evolution over the past 13.8 billion years, but still know very little about what happened in the first seconds after the Big Bang. Dan Hooper, senior scientist and head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, shares new information on our universe’s first moments.

Event date
Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

French gastronomy is the benchmark for the world’s finest cuisine. Join French cuisine expert Susan Herrmann Loomis for a lively tour through the centuries that showcases the rich history of a unique and beloved cuisine and the influences that shaped it.

Event date
Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

From Prohibition through the 1950s, the Stork Club, 21 Club, El Morocco, and other swank nightspots and eateries were the center of a glittering new kind of social scene. Cocktail historian Philip Greene takes a spirited look at the glamour of these legendary venues through the great drinks developed and savored there.

Event date
Monday, November 4, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.

In 1085, the king of England, William the Conqueror, ordered an inquest be made in every shire, in order to record the totality of resources of the realm. Explore how and why this document, the Domesday Book, came to be and what it reveals about the governance, society, and economy of late 11th-century England with medieval historian Richard Abels.

Event date
Monday, November 4, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

In the decades before the Civil War a clandestine network of human traffickers and slave traders stole away thousands of free African Americans from the northern states in order to sell them into slavery in the Deep South. In an absorbing evening, historian Richard Bell examines the prevalence of this heinous practice, the routes the kidnappers took, and the techniques they used to lure free black people.

Event date
Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Heroes of the Bible, of great empires of the past, and of legend are among those that preside today at the Met Cloisters, captured in an exceedingly rare, internationally renowned ensemble of tapestries. A Met Cloisters curator explores the singular historic and artistic importance of the Nine Heroes Tapestries. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Event date
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

In a fascinating evening, internationally known astrophysicist Mario Livio explores why mathematics is as powerful as it is in terms of explaining the cosmos.  He also tells fascinating stories and insights of renowned mathematicians who have shaped our ideas about mathematics and the philosophy of mathematics.

Event date
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.