Get smart! NYC's top winter talks and lectures 2013

Flex your gray matter and learn something at these winter talks and lectures given by writers, politicians, artists and musicians.

Illustration: Andy Forshaw
Baby, it’s cold outside. So stay indoors—at a fireplace bar, a TV screening party or one of these winter talks and lectures. Not only will you get smart and expand your horizons, but you’ll be able to impress your friends with fun facts about robots and death cults (or chat to your boss about health care and the Supreme Court). You’ll also get to hear from musicians, comedians, authors and politicians, including Norah Jones, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, and Al Gore.

The Art of Betty & Veronica discussion and signing

Critics' pick

Comic book archivist and historian Craig Yoe discusses the longevity, popularity and cultural influence of Archie cartoons, which have been published since 1941. He’ll be joined by Victor Gorelick, who began working on the strip at age 17 and in 2007 became editor-in-chief of Archie Comics, plus writers and cartoonists Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz. Purchase a copy of Yoe and Gorelick’s new book, The Art of Betty & Veronica ($29.99), or a $10 store gift card to attend.

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Strand Book Store Thu Jan 10

Exploring Legends Interview Series: Charles Duke

Critics' pick

Don’t have $200,000 to blow on a Virgin Galactic ticket? Hear about space travel from General Charles Duke, an Apollo 16 astronaut who became the tenth—and youngest—man to step on the lunar surface, in 1972. The 77-year-old will be interviewed by Bloomberg BusinessWeek contributing editor (and Virgin Galactic ticket holder) James Clash, as part of an ongoing interview series at the Explorers Club. The talk starts at 7pm, but turn up early for a 6pm reception.

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The Explorers Club Fri Jan 11

“Kyle Gann: No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4’33” ”

Critics' pick

On the final day of the National Academy Museum’s exhibit “John Cage: The Sight of Silence,” music scribe Kyle Gann discusses his new book, which focuses on the avant-garde composer’s seminal work 4’33”: a piece conceived of without a single musical note. Apt musical theorist Gann gives a cultural context to the much-criticized work by discussing the philosophical and musical developments that inspired the piece.–Sarah Hucal

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National Academy Museum Fri Jan 11

“Not Just Roommates: Cohabitation After the Sexual Revolution”

Critics' pick

University of Illinois professor Elizabeth H. Pleck gives an illustrated presentation on the tumultuous history of couples moving in together. She’ll discuss the struggle of people living together and detail the large number of arrests, prosecutions and revoking of social benefits that occurred from the late 1960s to the present day.

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New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Thu Jan 17

“Judith Bernstein and Paul McCarthy in Conversation”

Critics' pick

In anticipation of her first solo museum exhibition, “Judith Bernstein: HARD,” the influential painter joins multimedia maven Paul McCarthy to discuss the themes of violence and sexuality apparent in their work. The down and dirty conversation will be moderated by exhibition’s curator, Margot Norton.

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New Museum of Contemporary Art Fri Jan 18

“Medieval Robots: Automa Since the First Millennium”

Critics' pick

Anyone who thought robots were dreamed up for the film Metropolis or an Isaac Asimov novel is in for a surprise. Our mechanical friends have appeared in literature, art, courtly ceremony and liturgical ritual since the Middle Ages. Elly R. Truitt, who teaches medieval history at Bryn Mawr College, presents an enlightening illustrated lecture on how robots created by artisans and even sorcerers during the 5th to 15th centuries were thought to have strange powers, such as the ability to predict the date of your death.

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Observatory Fri Jan 18

“The History of the Graphic Novel”

Critics' pick

This two-day class delves into the history of illustrated stories, from the comic books of the ’40s to the genre’s evolution into long-form narratives with adult subject matter. Sarah McDaniel Dyer, the editor-in-chief of “nerd publishing start-up” Old Timey Hedgehog, discusses how the medium got to where it is today, and why comics are worth studying.

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Brooklyn Brainery Mon Jan 21 - Mon Jan 28

“Fixing Health Care: A Conversation Between David Goldhill and Malcolm Gladwell”

Critics' pick

The New Yorker’s heavy-hitting monthly discussion series, the Big Story, kicks off 2013 with a discussion between staff writer Malcolm Gladwell and TV executive David Goldhill. The chat will revolve around the latter’s new book, Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father—And How We Can Fix It, which explores America’s failing health-care industry and outlines Goldhill’s radical suggestion to repair it. . Reservations recommended, R.S.V.P. at newyorker.com/magazine/bigstory.

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Joe's Pub at the Public Theater Tue Jan 22

“An Evening with Al Gore”

Critics' pick

The former Vice President and leading climate-protection advocate spends an evening at the 92nd Street Y, presenting the contents of his new book The Future. The Nobel Prize winner’s latest work lays out six challenges humanity needs to tackle in order to achieve a healthier planet, such as redirecting our global economy toward biotechnology.

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92nd Street Y Tue Jan 29
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