Recent Topics

The Origins of Ancient Greece: The Aegean World in the Bronze Age- Often, when we think of Ancient Greece, we picture the architectural splendor of the Parthenon or the intellectual curiosity of Plato and Aristotle. Yet the history of Greece begins thousands of years before the Golden Age. The story of the development of Greek culture involves war, peace, prosperity, and destruction, and is one of the foundations of the West.

Marking Time: How a Roman General, a Renaissance Pope, and a British King Shaped Our Concept of Time- The modern calendar shapes our lives. We mark holidays, birthdays, and special events in our calendars, and our economic, social, and political structures are all tied to the shape of the year. But how did our calendar come to be? The story behind the creation of the modern calendar is a tale of science, ego, religion, and power.

The Fate of the Nation: Lincoln, the Union, and the Pivotal Election of 1860- Perhaps no presidential election in our history has been more consequential than that of 1860. As the nation teetered on the brink of disunion, fractured by sectionalism, the spectacle of American electoral politics fueled passions across the country. The outcome of the election led to secession and, ultimately, Civil War, and shaped the fate of the United States.

In the Halls of Valhalla: Myths, Legends, and Epics of the Vikings- The Scandinavian raiders who burst into Western Europe in the 8th and 9th centuries carried with them a complex tradition of epic tales of gods and heroes. Many of the stories from Norse mythology have influenced and shaped aspects of our modern storytelling and left a legacy in our collective culture. This lecture will discuss some of the great characters and adventures of the Vikings.

Armistice: War, Peace, and Commemoration of the Great War- In November 1918, World War I came to an end. It was the deadliest, most destructive war in history to that time. As the fighting ended, diplomats gathered to shape a post-war world, and citizens of the former combatants searched for a way to memorialize those who had fallen in the conflict. This lecture will explore how political leaders attempted to ensure peace, and how the people remembered their dead.

In League with the Devil: Witchcraft Panics in Colonial New England- The Salem Witchcraft Trials are a well-known tale from early American history. Yet, those events in Salem were not the only, nor the first, witchcraft panics in New England. This talk will tell the story of Puritans, superstition, and the various witchcraft scares throughout the colonial period.

“Look on my Works…”: Rameses the Great and the Image of Power- Since the beginning of Egyptian society, kings have constructed monuments to their reign. Pyramids, temples, and sculptures were created to memorialize and celebrate the deeds of the powerful. Yet no Egyptian ruler was a more avid builder than Rameses II who, during his 66-year long reign, constructed countless monuments across his dominions. This talk will discuss some of the important structures commissioned by the Pharoah and examine the legacy of those mighty works....

The Floating City: Art, Architecture and Music in Venice- Venice, Italy, is a city unlike any other, a place of beauty, mystery, and romance. Much of that aura is due to the city’s location in the midst of the lagoon. But a substantial part of the splendor was created by the people of Venice, the merchants, builders, and artists. This lecture will explore some of the remarkable creators of the Venetian mystique.