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Lectures

Flashback: The Sixties, How the Decade Shaped American Politics Today

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.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Regency World of Jane Austen

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.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Cheese 101: A Guide from Cheesemonster Studio

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.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

American Whiskey Reborn: Bourbon and Rye, Kentucky Style

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!

Date of event
Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Jancis Robinson and the Newest World Atlas of Wine

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.

Date of event
Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 2:30 p.m.

Courtroom Drama: The Art of Cross-Examination

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.

Date of event
Monday, October 21, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

La Cocina: The Power of Food

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.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Clipper Ships: Sailing Ships That Ruled the Trade Routes

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.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Cheese 101: A Guide from Cheesemonster Studio

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.

Date of event
Sunday, October 27, 2019 - 2:00 p.m.

The Jews of Britain: A Complicated History

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.

Date of event
Monday, October 28, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Andrea del Verrocchio: A Renaissance Master and his Legacy

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)

Date of event
Monday, October 28, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe's First Seconds

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.

Date of event
Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Lior Lev Sercarz on Mastering Spice

Spices are the fastest, easiest way to transform a dish from good to spectacular, says spice expert Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of New York City spice shop La Boîte. Join him and three other culinary pros for tips on how spices of all kinds can be used to make food healthier and more delicious.

Date of event
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

How France Taught the World To Eat

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.

Date of event
Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

A Diversity of Flavors: How Foreign-born Chefs Are Redefining American Cuisine

Generations of immigrants have long made their mark on how Americans eat, both at home and when dining out. The editor of a new cookbook focusing on the stories and food of foreign-born chefs joins five leading D.C chefs who discuss their experiences as food professionals and the impact that talented immigrants have made on the local and national dining scenes.

Date of event
Sunday, November 3, 2019 - 3:00 p.m.

Café Society: Where New York's Brightest Made the Scene

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. Participants sip a selection of famous cocktails from that era as cocktail historian Philip Greene takes a spirited look at the glamour of these legendary venues.

Date of event
Monday, November 4, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.

The Domesday Book: William the Conqueror's Great Survey

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.

Date of event
Monday, November 4, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Reverse Underground Railroad: Slavery and Kidnapping in Pre-Civil War America

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.

Date of event
Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

What Makes Mrs. Maisel So Marvelous?

Amazon Prime's “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” moved its star Rachel Brosnahan—and her picture-perfect wardrobe—into the center of the pop-culture spotlight. Stef Woods of American University explores the show’s complex character relationships and how it portrays the shifting social outlook of the 1950s as reflected through Midge’s transformation from jilted spouse to aspiring comedy-biz pro.

Date of event
Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Vicksburg: The Campaign That Broke the Confederacy

Although Gettysburg is often cited as the Civil War’s most important battle, it was the fall of Vicksburg that sealed the fate of the Confederacy. Historian Donald L. Miller tells the astonishing story of the longest and most decisive military campaign of the Civil War.

Date of event
Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Heroes Enthroned in Tapestry

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)

Date of event
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Artificial Intelligence: Will It Go to Your Head Someday?

It sounds like science fiction, but cognitive scientist Susan Schneider says brain microchips and other techniques to integrate humans with artificial intelligence are under development. She addresses the implications of AI in our lives, and how to ensure that its science develops in a way that promotes human flourishing.

Date of event
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

A Conversation with Katie Couric

In an evening that honors Katie Couric for using her voice to encourage important discussions about issues that touch American lives, she talks about topics including her career, her collaborations in new media, and how the issues and causes for which she advocates connect to her role as a journalist.

Date of event
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Home Cooking, Cuban-style: Hot Lunch at Cuba Libre

The best food in Cuba can be found in paladares, small private restaurants generally run out of family homes. Join chef and cookbook author Guillermo Pernot as he serves up a paladares-inspired meal at his D.C. eatery, Cuba Libre.

Date of event
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 12:00 p.m.

Orville Wright's Redemption: The Story Behind the First Military Airplane

Aviation writer and filmmaker Paul Glenshaw screens rare reconstructed film footage from 1909 as he traces how the Wright Brothers persuaded the U.S. Army that the future of combat was airborne. That story also reflects a pivotal confluence of emerging technologies that would shape much of the 20th century: the airplane and the motion picture.

Date of event
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The New Joy of Cooking: A Family Recipe

Originally self-published in 1931 by Irma S. Rombauer, Joy of Cooking became the bible of American home cooking. Join Rombauer’s great-grandson John Becker and his wife Megan Scott as they tell the story behind its newest edition, one that reflects a contemporary voice informed by culinary tradition.

Date of event
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Mario Livio: Is God a Mathematician?

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.

Date of event
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Nightcaps: The Perfect Ending

Whether you’re looking to induce a good night’s rest or conclude a festive evening, the nightcap is the ideal way to close the day. Join author Kara Newman, spirits editor of Wine Enthusiast, for a captivating discussion (and tasting) covering the history of the nightcap and its role in the modern-day cocktail canon.

Date of event
Friday, November 15, 2019 - 7:00 p.m.

Prince Albert's Vision of Progress: The Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851

With its curated displays of objects from all corners of the empire, the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations regaled the world as a testament to Britain’s industrial leadership and taste. Art historian Morna O'Neill examines how the Crystal Palace paved the way for subsequent international exhibitions, as well as for museums specializing in decorative art and industry. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Sunday, November 17, 2019 - 1:30 p.m.

J'Accuse! The Dreyfus Affair and its Aftermath

The wrongful court-martial of Alfred Dreyfus, a young officer—and a Jew—in 1895 Paris, has had far-reaching ramifications. Historian Ralph Nurnberger highlights the trial when Dreyfus was convicted and the subsequent trials over the course of the next dozen years.

Date of event
Monday, November 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Lidia Bastianich: An Italian Classic

Join beloved chef Lidia Bastianich for a lively conversation about her close-knit family, her professional ascent, and the dedication and passion for food that led to multiple restaurants, many best-selling cookbooks, and 20 years on public television.

Date of event
Monday, November 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Journey of the Mask

Symbols of power, mystery, and disguise, masks play a role in cultures and societies across the globe. Stunning images by National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier highlight his exploration of the reasons why humans have donned masks since the beginning of time.

Date of event
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Battle of Britain

Historian Kevin Matthews examines how the high-stakes contest between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe over the skies of England prevented a Nazi invasion of Britain and become a critical factor in the Allied victory five years later.

Date of event
Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Ben Folds: An Unconventional Icon

Singer-songwriter Ben Folds has crafted a wide-ranging career path that's sometimes been as unexpected as it has been successful. He's chronicled that experience in a new memoir, and in a special evening discusses the book and what it took to move from a working-class childhood in North Carolina to stardom.

Date of event
Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Architecture of Reuse: Lessons from European Cities

Europeans have spent centuries integrating the architectural legacies of their cities into buildings that meet the changing needs of their residents and reflect an evolving array of design styles. Architect Paola Lugli addresses how historic buildings can survive and thrive through modern adaptations, as well as how architects are re-purposing buildings today. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Fellini's Italy: Along the Via Emilia

Join food historian Francine Segan on a journey to Rimini and Modena, two wondrous cities along an ancient Roman byway in the Emilia-Romagna region. She reveals why the area inspired both an iconic film director as well as today’s travelers who love chic beaches, fabulous food, ancient ruins, and distinctive art and architecture.

Date of event
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Sound of Music at 60: The Musical That's One of Our Favorite Things

Since 1959, our hearts have been alive with the songs and the story of one of the most enduring musicals of all time. American music specialist Robert Wyatt showcases the making of the stage and screen versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved work.

Date of event
Thursday, December 5, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Delayed Justice: The Hunt for Hitler's Hidden Soldiers in America

Hitler's dreaded SS trained a roving army to help annihilate the Jewish population of occupied Poland. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Debbie Cenziper unfolds the harrowing wartime journeys of two Jewish orphans who settled in the United States—only to learn that some of their one-time captors had as well.

Date of event
Thursday, December 5, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Memoir: Art From Life

Join Mary Hall Surface, instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, for a close look at Joan Miró’s The Farm to discover how memory informs the painting and can inspire your own reflective writing.

Date of event
Sunday, December 8, 2019 - 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Buone Feste: How Italy Celebrates Christmas

Fred Plotkin, an expert on everything Italian, celebrates the festivities, food, and secular and religious traditions that make Christmas in Italy a magical month-long experience.

Date of event
Monday, December 9, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Classical Music and American Foreign Relations: A Complicated Duet

Jonathan Rosenberg of Hunter College delves into the singular and complex relationship of classical music and political ideology in 20th-century America. He examines how in the decades that spanned two world wars and the Cold War, classical musicians, singers, composers, and conductors could find themselves celebrated as cultural ambassadors or ostracized for their nationality or political beliefs.

Date of event
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 12:00 p.m.

Are We Alone?: The Search for Life Beyond Earth

What are the odds of finding distant Earth-like worlds that support life? Kelly Beatty, senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, examines how astronomers and scientists are investigating the possibility.

Date of event
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Vital Voices: Endangered Languages in a Changing World

More than half of roughly 7,000 languages spoken in the world today are in danger of disappearing by the end of this century. Mary Linn of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage examines the critical importance of maintaining language diversity, the forces that threaten to silence endangered languages, and the efforts to combat them.

Date of event
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Putting It All on the Table: Women on Food

Charlotte Druckman's new book Women on Food reflects the voices and experiences of more than 100 food industry professionals from chefs to critics. She sits down with chef and television personality Carla Hall for a conversation about some of topics these women covered, from gender bias in the workplace to professional underrepresentation to mastering the art of failing.

Date of event
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Gilded Steinway: Music in Theodore Roosevelt's White House

The musical life of the White House during Theodore Roosevelt's administration was rich and diverse, and some of the era's most noted pianists performed on a one-of-a-kind instrument in the East Room: an elaborately decorated and gilded Steinway piano. In a program at Decatur House, musicologist Elise Kirk offers an overview of Roosevelt-era music, highlighted by a performance on a replica of the original piano.

Date of event
Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.

Barack and Joe: The Making of a Presidential Friendship

Though Joe Biden and Barack Obama were a study in sharply contrasting styles, they formed a dynamic professional partnership and close personal connection. Author Steve Levingston explores the evolution of the relationship that set the tone for eight years in the White House.

Date of event
Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The House of Medici: The Art of Power

As bankers to some of Europe’s most important rulers, the Medici had a substantial influence on the geo-politics of their time, but perhaps their most enduring legacy is that as patrons of the arts. Rocky Ruggiero, a specialist in the Early Renaissance, explores how art and architecture became languages of their power. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date of event
Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Holiday Magic at the White House: The Brightest Season at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Spend an afternoon with professional decorator and author Coleen Christian Burke as she covers the traditions of White House holiday decorating, brings you behind the scenes as the seasonal transformation takes place, and shares how modern first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Melania Trump have lent their distinctive styles and creativity to guiding the seasonal themes.

Date of event
Sunday, December 15, 2019 - 2:00 p.m.

Bryan and Michael Voltaggio on the Flavors of the Chesapeake

Chefs Bryan and Michael Voltaggio recently launch their third restaurant together, named Estuary in the spirit of the Chesapeake Bay. Join them as the brothers discuss their journey from their hometown of Frederick, Maryland, to “Top Chef” fame, how they created the menu at Estuary, and what it’s like to cook with family.

Date of event
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Muses and Mews: Artists and Their Cats

Expressive or aloof, affectionate or enigmatic, cats have complicated characters that make them compelling artists' muses. Curator Mary Savig of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art explores and illustrates the quirky and charming relationships that Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O'Keeffe, and other creators cultivated with their feline companions.

Date of event
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 7:00 p.m.

Language and Aging: A Resilient Relationship

Cognitive scientist Roger Kreuz examines how aging affects language and how language affects aging, and explains why language ability shapes our lives throughout its course.

Date of event
Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.