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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Lectures

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Mel Brooks, Johnny Carson, and Carol Burnett—all recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors—made it look easy, but nothing is harder than comedy that seems effortless. Join Sara Lukinson, filmmaker and writer for the annual event for 38 years, for an evening full of laughs as she covers the remarkable lives of these legendary entertainers and screens clips of their hilarious performances.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, January 28, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Iran and America’s current fraught relationship has its roots in one that was long grounded in friendship and opportunity. Historian John Ghazvinian draws on his new book, America and Iran: A History, 1720 to the Present, to trace how and why the link between these former allies eroded and offers a glimpse of what lies in store for both nations.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, January 29, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

According to religious scholar Karen Armstrong, the misunderstanding of scripture is perhaps the root cause of many of today’s controversies. She shines fresh light on the world’s major religions to examine how a creative and spiritual engagement with holy texts can build bridges between faiths.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From the early 15th century, the story of the Jewish population of Florence has encompassed vast wealth and prestige—and almost continual trial and tribulation. Art historian and Florentine tour guide Laura Greenblatt explores the history of their presence in the city over the course of six centuries.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The American victory over British forces at Saratoga in September 1777 stunned the world and changed the course of the War of Independence. Kevin J. Weddle of the U.S. Army War College analyzes the strategic underpinnings of the historic Saratoga campaign, considers why events unfolded as they did, and offers a new interpretation of George Washington’s role in the American success.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, February 5, 2021 - 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
Friday, February 5, 2021 - 6:00 p.m. ET

In an immersive tasting experience led by sommelier Erik Segelbaum, learn about the best of Northern California wines from Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties, as well as hidden gems from some outlying appellations.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, February 8, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Victor Weedn, a leading expert on forensic science, offers a comprehensive introduction to the fascinating history of forensic science and its basic methods, current controversies, and future.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Pizza is central to so many cultural touch points: from movies, to books, to television and even sports. Celebrate National Pizza Day (Feb. 9) with pizza experts Thom and James Elliot—and learn how the savory pie became one of the world’s favorite foods.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Food plays a key featured role in Francis Ford Coppola’s first entry in The Godfather trilogy. Italian-born Ermelinda M. Campani, examines the 1972 film’s intertwined perspectives on food and family, which encompass ethnic identity, personal honor, violence, and power.

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

Join Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey for a sure-to-be-memorable interview with Gayle King as he shares unvarnished stories from his memoir Greenlights and explains how they instilled in him the importance of values, the power of new experiences, and, as he puts it, “either changing your reality or changing how you see it.”

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Monstrous black holes lurk in the centers of almost every large galaxy in the universe. Get insights into several significant recent events in black-hole astrophysics and experience a virtual night-sky viewing with experts from George Mason University.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Great art is timeless. Paul Glenshaw explores the political backdrop of the most iconic symbol of the French Republic, the life of its creator who embodies French Romantic painting, and how they came together in a single image. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

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

Guided by floral designer Sarah von Pollaro, modern-day romantics create a one-of-a-kind arrangement to gift to a loved one (or keep for themselves), and pick up great tips about buying and keeping flowers fresh.  

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

Oxford and its storied history have inspired a startling catalog of eccentric sleuths and outré crimes. Settle in with a spot of tea for an evening of shuttered rooms, cryptic clues, and dodgy detectives as you follow a virtual tour of the city and its byways, where danger lurks! 

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The Second World War remains the greatest catastrophe in human history, with more than 70 million deaths, most of them civilians. Historian Christopher Hamner explores the roots of the war in Europe against Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 6:45 p.m ET

Explore the dramatic forces that have shaped the Icelandic landscape over 30 million years with geologist Tamie J. Jovanelly in a virtual tour that captures the island’s natural beauty and the relationships among structure, process, and time that influenced the island’s geologic evolution.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Despite America's newly won independence, a bitter dispute over whether to have a capital and where to locate it almost tore the young nation apart. It is a little-known tale of founding-period intrigue and an underappreciated side of Washington's exceptional political skill and leadership. Historian Robert P. Watson, examines the key role George Washington played in settling this question, the forces that influenced Washington's passion and vision for the capital city, and the intense political struggle to build it.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

In an entertaining and provocative discussion, best-selling author Simon Winchester discusses how we acquire land, how we steward it, how and why we fight over it, and finally, how we sometimes share it. 

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The walls of Blenheim, a 19th-century brick farmhouse in Fairfax, Virginia, are a fascinating treasure trove: Their plaster is covered with a collection of Civil War soldiers’ names, regiments, hometowns, dates, personal messages, and graffiti. See how advanced digital imaging technology is revealing new layers of the history of the war and an ordinary Virginia house that played a part in it.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, February 19, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Live from her home in Tuscany, art historian Elaine Ruffolo follows the extraordinary career of Piero della Francesca, acknowledged as one of the foundational artists of the Renaissance. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Sunday, February 21, 2021 - 6:00 p.m. ET

Join geologist Kirt Kempter on a geologic exploration of three iconic national parks, a fascinating journey that examines how the spectacular landscapes seen by today’s vistors in the Colorado Plateau were shaped across time.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, February 22, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Is a banana duct-taped to a wall really worth $120,000? What happens when a work of art’s aesthetic value is overshadowed by its market value? Ellen Gorman of Georgetown University offers a survey of the American art market from the 1950s to the present, introducing the cast of players and corporate entities behind the transformation of artworks into commodities for sale to the highest bidder. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The United States didn’t invent cinema, but over the last century it became an American institution. Using clips from movies ranging from Stagecoach to The Dark Knight, film critic Noah Gittell considers a trio of American archetypes that emerged at key points in Hollywood history: the Cowboy, the Rogue Cop, and the Orphan Protector.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

The Russian immigrant originally named Israel Baline translated the spirit of his new country into enduringly popular music. American musical specialist Robert Wyatt covers Irving Berlin’s extraordinary life, spanning a half-century of achievement that produced songs for Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, radio, television, film, and a worldwide military audience.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The world held its breath, then rejoiced when the National Zoo’s giant panda, Mei Xiang, 22, gave birth to a healthy male cub in August. SCBI staff scientist Pierre Comizzoli, who oversaw the artificial insemination process, and Laurie Thompson, assistant curator for giant pandas at the Zoo, discuss the panda’s birth and provide an update on his growth and development.

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

Art historian Bonita Billman analyzes artist Edgar Degas’s contributions to French impressionist art and posterity, and looks at his role as an art collector of merit. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Frederick Douglass was a prophet who could see a better future that lay just beyond reach. Yet his life bursts with contradiction and change. Historian Richard Bell examines this many-sided figure’s life to reveal more than another great man on a pedestal.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Why do people living in some areas of the world, called Blue Zones, live longer than the average person? Find out from John Whyte, WebMD’s chief medical officer who shares practical tips for longer lives—in your zone and beyond.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

As NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover heads toward a planned February 18, 2021, landing, planetary scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson recalls the decades-long search for life on Mars—and proof that we are not alone in the universe.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, February 26, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

How in the 5th century B.C. did a small town on a remote peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean create an unparalleled legacy of innovation, higher education, discovery, and invention? Historian Diane Cline examines how the social fabric of classical Athens shaped an environment in which creative people and their new ideas could thrive.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, February 26, 2021 - 7:00 p.m. ET

Legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker changed the world of music as one of the innovators of bebop. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra’s artistic director and conductor Charlie Young, Dwandalyn R. Reece, curator music and performing arts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Bobby Watson from the American Jazz Museum celebrate Parker’s sound and examine how his brilliance and charisma had an impact on the course of music like no other.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

For many of the impressionists, women were not simply passive models but essential partners, collaborators, muses—and sometimes lovers and wives. Art historian Natasha Schlesinger looks at five fascinating women who inspired portraits created by Renoir, Monet, Degas, Manet, and Cassatt. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 5:00 p.m. ET

Tom Stoppard is a towering and beloved literary figure known for his dizzying narrative inventiveness and intense attention to language. Hermione Lee discusses her new biography of one of our greatest living playwrights with longtime Stoppard collaborator Carey Perloff in a fascinating examination of his work and a riveting look at the life a remarkable man.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, March 5, 2021 - 6:00 p.m. ET

World-class additions to any wine cellar, some of Washington’s most powerful and amazing wines are being brought to life by equally powerful and amazing women. In a guided tasting led by top sommelier Erik Segelbaum, discover some of the state’s best wines produced by women winemakers.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Over more than five decades, the pioneering French modernist Henri Matisse created work in a dazzlingly wide range of materials and styles. Art historian Nancy G. Heller explores how all of Matisse’s diverse output reflects a unified aesthetic philosophy and investigates why his work continues to fascinate today’s creative minds. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

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
Friday, March 12, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Sandro Botticelli’s art captures the shift from a mystical, symbolic medieval worldview to the more humanist ideals of the Early Renaissance. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo traces the life and times of this Florentine master from his rise as painter to the Medici bankers to his downfall as a devoted follower of fiery Savonarola. (World Art History Certificate elective, ½ credit)

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
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

He’s the top! American music specialist Robert Wyatt leads a musical journey through Cole Porter’s dazzling career on Broadway and in Hollywood, his personal tragedies, and his legacy of some of the most deliciously witty, provocative, and elegant contributions  to the great American songbook.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In the years after World War II, television blossomed as a creative medium, with live dramatic shows like “Kraft Television Theater” and “Playhouse 90” showcasing the talents of soon-to-be-famous performers, directors, and writers. But this golden age was a short one, as was New York City’s dominance as a center of production. Brian Rose, professor emeritus at Fordham University, explores the forces behind the demise.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Look to the space-traveling future as Michael Summers, a professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, explores how the use of space resources could propel human colonization throughout the solar system in the coming decades and beyond.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert is best-known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller, The Sixth Extinction, in which she described the rich and diverse world disappearing rapidly before our eyes. She explores the possibility that the feats of human innovation that have imperiled our planet may now be the only hope to save nature.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Do you think your dog talks to you? Arik Kershenbaum, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge, explores the nature of how animals communicate and whether we’ll ever be able to understand what they’re saying—or if they are saying anything at all.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, March 19, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Art historian Joseph Cassar explores the work of Marc Chagall whose oeuvre—whimsical, colorful and populated with images from the stories of his native Russian culture—is both emotionally and poetically dream-based. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

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
Monday, March 22, 2021 - 7:00 p.m. ET

The Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire is a vast horseshoe-shaped basin that sweeps over nearly 25,000 miles and is marked by relentless tectonic movements that drive earthquake and volcanic activity in hot spots such as Peru, New Zealand, Japan, and Alaska. Join volcanologist Kirt Kempter for a detailed introduction to one of planet’s most volatile regions.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Join Chef Kevin Mitchell and historian David S. Shields for a delicious dive into the culinary specialties of the Charleston region, which include the famous rice and seafood dishes of the Low Country. Cook along as the chef demonstrates one of the region’s signatures dishes: Hoppin’ John.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 24, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Immerse yourself in the restorative and meditative Japanese practice of forest bathing as Melanie Choukas-Bradley introduces its history and how-tos. She also shares tips on how to conduct your own forest-bathing walks using the environments around you, including your own backyard.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 24, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

From a highly decorated WWII combat aviator to the head of a gonzo air cargo company to the president of Alaska Airlines—and with a dive into politics along the way—Charles Fountain “Whiskey” Willis lived an adventure of constant re-invention. Aviation historian Paul Glenshaw recounts the tale of how a scrappy upstart who ignored rules, risk, precedent, and protocol shaped a remarkable career.

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.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Are you someone who winces at the word irregardless? Do you find it hard to believe someone who tells you, “I was literally climbing the walls”? Do you wish everyone would use the Oxford comma in lists of three items? If so, this lively examination of language with linguist Anne Curzan is for you. (Hopefully, you’ll come.)

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, March 26, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

The link between architecture and philosophy may seem like an unlikely one, but that centuries-long connection has influenced everything from ancient temples to Gothic cathedrals to modernist structures. Architectural researcher André Patrão traces a history of the disciplines’ notable intersections and uncovers their dramatic effects from antiquity to today.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, March 29, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

What began in 1946 in a family kitchen in Queens, became The Estée Lauder Companies, one of the world’s leading marketers of beauty products. Chairman emeritus Leonard A. Lauder tells the story of a great company founded by his mother—a woman who was pushy, but in a nice way.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Naturalist Scott Weidensaul is joined in conversation by Jennifer Ackerman, New York Times best-selling author of The Bird Way, as they explore the science and sheer wonder of global bird migration.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

What’s in store for bread making? Find out when a panel of top bakers mix it up in a conversation that spans traditional and new methods of sourcing ingredients to trends in the baking process itself.

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
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

In a virtual exploration of collections at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, learn how culture has been shaped by the intertwining of land and water around America’s largest estuary.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Michael Eric Dyson, a scholar of race, religion, and contemporary culture, draws on his new book to share how he grapples with the cultural and social forces that have shaped America since slavery, examines how the country can reckon with race, and suggests ways to move forward.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, April 9, 2021 - 6:00 p.m. ET

Archaeological records show domesticated grape growing and winemaking in Israel and the Levant dates back more than 5000 years and is largely responsible for the evolution of modern wine. In this guided tasting with top sommelier Erik Segelbaum, explore Israeli wine's storied past, present, and future.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, April 12, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

The most expensive civilian scientific and technological program in U.S. history, Project Apollo symbolized the caliber of America’s capability in space exploration. On the 60th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, Smithsonian curator Teasel Muir-Harmony examines another aspect of the program: its role as a political strategy to foster a global community aligned with America’s Cold War interests.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Chris Gardner, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Pursuit of Happyness, talks about his real-life rags-to-riches story, and his blueprint for building a dream-come-true life—even during uncertainty.

Tour
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Join Bill Keene on a walking tour to discover the Mall’s history, design, and architecture, from its earliest vision to the latest developments. View and compare a wide range of architectural styles from the Gothic-revival Smithsonian Castle to the rich symbolism of the Museum of African American History and Culture to the latest addition to the Mall, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial by architect Frank Ghery. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

People living with disabilities are underrepresented in media, popular culture, and art. Alice Wong, a disabled activist, media maker, and research consultant, joins Beth Ziebarth, director of Access Smithsonian, artist Riva Lehrer, and writer s.e. smith, to discuss intersectionality in art, design, and the museum world through inclusive design and representation.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, April 15, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. ET

Surrounded by 120 acres of native Ozark forest, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, houses five centuries of American artworks from the colonial era to the present, with an emphasis on artists underrepresented in art history and conventional museum settings. Join a member of the educational staff for a look at this unique museum. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, April 15, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

As the world continues to warm and the oceans acidify, there is no question that coral reefs are facing unprecedented struggle. Join coral reef biologist Rebecca Albright, assistant curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Patterson Scholar at the California Academy of Science, as she highlights opportunities to address this crisis.

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
Monday, April 19, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Joe Biden began his presidency after four years of turbulence in the White House. How well has he been doing? Journalist and historian Ken Walsh reviews Biden’s first 100 days in office.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Ever since its appearance around the fifth century B.C., the philosophy of The Art of War has been embraced by leaders of nations, armies, and businesses as an ancient guide to success. Historian Christopher Hamner examines the delights and frustrations of untangling Sun Tzu’s sometimes-opaque aphorisms and explores some of the most famous passages in his masterwork.

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
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Walk the virtual red carpet with Washington City Paper film critic Noah Gittell in an evening that focuses on all things Oscar, from Academy Awards history and trivia to discussions of this unusual year's nominations and behind-the-scenes stories.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Fairy tales are a profound force of storytelling, extending far beyond the nursery into film, advertising, novels, politics, propaganda, music, and more. Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman explore these tales' two intertwining branches: traditional folkloric fairy tales and literary fairy tales.

Lecture/Seminar
Friday, April 23, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

The second law of thermodynamics states that the universe trends toward entropy and disorder. Physicist Julian Barbour offers an intriguing new viewpoint that the law has been misapplied and that the growth of order, not chaos, determines how we experience time.

Lecture/Seminar
Sunday, April 25, 2021 - 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET

Who doesn’t love the familiar waddle and elegant slide of the famously flightless penguins. Charles Bergman, award-winning writer and photographer, takes you on a virtual tour to the world’s wild places to meet these wonderful creatures threatened by climate change.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, April 26, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Economist Brian O’Roark moves through the decisions of life—from finding love to planning for retirement—inspired by the songs of the Beatles. 

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

Inevitably, life on Earth will come to an end and humans may have to find a new home planet. Geneticist and computational biologist Christopher Mason argues that the human ingenuity that has enabled us to build rockets and land on other planets can be applied to redesigning biology that will allow us to inhabit other planets.

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
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

During the Gilded Age (1875-1900), the United States was on the path to becoming the most economically powerful country in the world, even as the wealth gap grew wider. Join Allen Pietrobon, an assistant professor of global affairs at Trinity Washington University and an award-winning historian, for a look back at the tumultuous time.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

When spring has sprung, nature isn’t shy about showing off how wild love blossoms in mating calls, dances, and rituals that can be found everywhere during the season. Liana Vitali, a naturalist and educator at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, offers a tasteful look into the world of animal and plant romance and the ways the natural world keeps buzzing.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, April 29, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

On the eve of Arbor Day, naturalist and tree expert Melanie Choukas-Bradley presents an overview of the trees in our nation’s capital through stunning photographs of the Tidal Basin, U.S. Capitol, White House, National Arboretum, Rock Creek Park, and many other notable locations.

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)

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
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET

How did the name of a Continental Army general become a synonym for treason? Historian Richard Bell reconstructs the life and times of Benedict Arnold, the reasons he turned on his country, and the larger problems of betrayal and desertion that dogged George Washington’s army.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET

In the 19th century, Transcendentalism emerged as the first major American movement in arts and letters that left a lasting imprint on the nation’s mind and imagination. Richard Capobianco, a professor of philosophy at Stonehill College, examines the major themes of Transcendentalism and their far-reaching influence on American life.