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Lectures

From the 17th through 19th centuries, Prussia and its capital Berlin came to dominate the political, intellectual, and cultural life of what eventually became the unified German state. Cultural historian Ursula Rehn Wolfman traces this fascinating historical evolution through the expression of Prussian influence in Berlin’s architecture and extraordinary museum collections, as well as in its role as a center for learning. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Event date
Monday, June 24, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

During six seasons on AMC, Walter White, the antihero of “Breaking Bad” practiced a lot of ad-hoc chemistry. But how much of it was actually scientific? Join the show’s science advisor, chemistry professor Donna Nelson, and scientist Marius Stan, who appeared as an actor, to learn how the series mixed fictional storylines with professionally accurate facts.

Event date
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Historian Richard Bell reconstructs the fascinating history of America’s Declaration of Independence, covering its origins, purpose, impact, and its extraordinary influence on more than 100 similar declarations in countries around the world.

Event date
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

To mark the anniversary of the landmark HBO series, Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, television critics of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger—Tony Soprano’s hometown newspaper—discuss the show’s artistry, themes, and legacy, as well as its deep connections to other film and TV classics.

Event date
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Drawing on her memoir, Trailblazer, Gilliam talks to veteran reporter and freelance journalist Kristin Jense about her remarkable 50-year career as The Washington Post’s first black female journalist and her determination to “make the media look more like America.”

Event date
Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Fifty years after the first lunar landing, Teasel Muir-Harmony, a curator at the Air and Space Museum, reassesses the history of Project Apollo through some of the most evocative objects of the Space Age in the Smithsonian’s collections.

Event date
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Go inside the epic first mission to Pluto with astrobiologist David Grinspoon. He takes you to July 14, 2015, when the spacecraft New Horizons soared past the long-mysterious icy worlds of the planet’s system. Then, the robotic spacecraft continued on its 9-year voyage 3 billion miles from Earth.

Event date
Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Food historian Francine Segan leads a virtual tour that examines the unique enchantment Venice holds for visitors, focusing on its vibrant heritage of art, architecture, and cuisine.

Event date
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Their names are familiar: Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Viola, Desdemona, and Ophelia. Explore the scope of female characters in Shakespeare’s plays, and the ways in which he reinforced and challenged Elizabethan society’s norms.

Event date
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Many Westerners are familiar with Taoism as a set of teachings that center on following nature and nurturing the spirit in this life. Learn about another component of Taoist thought and practice: the search for immortality.

Event date
Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Drawing from his book, Emperors of the Deep, documentarian, conservationist, and author William McKeever dispels our common misconceptions about sharks and describes them as evolutionary marvels vital to maintaining the health of the world’s oceans and, ultimately, the planet.

Event date
Friday, July 19, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The first large-scale clash of the Civil War near Manassas, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, left a thousand soldiers dead and many more wounded. It was a rude awakening for people who were anticipating a short and bloodless war.

Event date
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Join host, writer, and executive producer of PBS’s “Curious Traveler,” Christine van Blokland, for a virtual exploration of some of the British Isles' most curious locations and secrets.

Event date
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The Battle for Monte Cassino in 1944 represented a desperate contest of man against man and man against nature, often humbling the efforts of generals and technology. Examine the battle from both sides' perspectives in the context of a campaign that eluded either opponent's ability to control.

Event date
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Find out what inspired the so-called Beat Generation of the 1950s–a fascinating, maddening, provocative and, in the end, utterly American group of writers.

Event date
Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Discover the history, culture, and cuisine of a pair of fascinating Asian destinations as you get expert tips from television host Darley Newman, who previews a new episode of her PBS series “Travels With Darley.”

Event date
Thursday, August 1, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Grab your horned helmet, battleax, and tankard: It’s time to rediscover the world’s oldest fermented beverage. It’s mead, everyone’s favorite ancient honey-based intoxicant—and it’s making a comeback!

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

A new exhibition at the Portrait Gallery, One Life: Marian Anderson, examines how the performer’s roles as singer, diplomat, and muse helped shatter segregationist policies on and off the stage. Join curator Leslie Ureña, to learn about the making of the exhibition and the powerful cultural and artistic themes it illuminates.

Event date
Thursday, August 8, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The imminent arrival of the driverless car has forced us to reevaluate the place of the automobile in our lives. Historian and car critic Dan Albert traces the history of the automobile as the history of America.

Event date
Monday, August 12, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The vibes of peace, love, and nature that shaped the counterculture of the 1960s have a connection that might have surprised some of its laid-back proponents: the landscape of 19th-century New England transcendentalism. Bill Dinges, a professor of religion and culture at Catholic University, explores this notable American intellectual movement and how it inspired the activism, literature, and religion of that turbulent decade and beyond.

Event date
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Think that the esoteric, abstract realm of quantum physics has no relevance to our daily lives? Physics professor and author Chad Orzel wakes us up to the fact that even the routines by which we start our day—involving everything from making toast to checking our phone—provide scientific evidence of the connection between our quotidian world and the quantum world.

Event date
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

In countless restaurants and bars, rum drinks topped with paper umbrellas, “exotic” foods, and fantasy Polynesian décor offered mid-century America’s favorite tropical escape. Martin and Rebecca Cate, founders of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, lead a colorful journey into the lore and legend of tiki culture and its modern revival, and offer samples of their bar’s original cocktail recipes.

Event date
Thursday, August 15, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

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.

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.

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.