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16 talks and lectures you need to attend in NYC this spring

New York Public Library
Photograph: Shutterstock

That whole “curiosity killed the cat” thing isn’t true. A little curiosity never harmed anyone—probably not even that proverbial kitty. 

No, curiosity is certainly a force for good: It’s what sparks an interest, awakens intelligent thought and opens the mind up to learning something new. Indulge your inquisitive spirit in one of these fascinating talks and lectures in NYC this spring. You’ll find conversations with award-winning authors, lectures on the city’s long-forgotten history, light-hearted talks about pop culture and everything in between on this list. So go on—find out what makes you curious.

Seven Things I’ve Learned: an Evening With Ira Glass; Mar 10
Fans of This American Life won’t want to miss this talk from its creator, producer and host. Glass will play video clips, snippets of audio and even music to give the audience some insight into his creative process and influences.

‘60s Fashion: The Youthquake and its Aftershocks; Mar 14
Designers Anna Sui and Andrea Aranow will sit down with fashion historian Hazel Clark for this discussion at the Museum of the City of New York. (Side note: We would really like to know how one becomes a fashion historian.) They’ll dissect the cultural change that moved styles from the buttoned-up circle skirts of the ‘50s to the mod mini dresses and beehives of the ‘60s.

Myth and Mystery in Harry Potter; Mar 19
How did J.K. Rowling come up with Buckbeak the hippogriff or the Sorcerer's Stone, anyway? Dive into the texts and paintings from antiquity that inspired the beloved series in this Brooklyn Brainery lecture led by art history scholar Gabriella Corey.

Nell Scovell in Conversation With John Oliver; Mar 20
Even if you don’t know Nell Scovell by name, you’re certainly familiar with her work: The writer, producer, showrunner and director worked behind the scenes of Monk, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Murphy Brown, The Muppets and other iconic TV shows. John Oliver joins Scovell at the 92nd Street Y to discuss her latest book, Just the Funny Parts: … And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking Into the Hollywood Boys’ Club.

The Subway; Mar 21
Pretty much every New Yorker has strong opinions about the subway system—not all of them positive. New York Times staff reporter Sarah Maslin Nir sits down with MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota for a frank conversation on the system’s past and future.

Mark Hamill in Conversation With Frank Oz; Mar 22
Luke Skywalker and Yoda will reunite for one night only at the 92nd Street Y this month—or rather, the actors behind the characters will. Snag a ticket for the chance to hear the pair reminisce about filming the series over four decades.

Eric Holder, Former Attorney General of the U.S.; Mar 28
Former Attorney General Eric Holder has been pretty busy since he left office in 2015: After returning to private practice, he became chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Hear what he has to say about the Justice Department under the Trump administration, the redistricting process and the upcoming 2018 election in this TimesTalk with political reporter Alex Burns.

Isabella Rossellini With Menno Schilthuizen: Chicken and Eggs; Apr 3
Her Instagram followers already know that Isabella Rossellini loves her chickens, but the general public might be a bit surprised by the actress’ second career as a farmer. She’ll join forces with evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen for this talk on the mysteries and wonders of the fine fowl.

Resurrecting the Woolly Mammoth; Apr 4
Archaeological anthropologist Patty Hamrick leads this discussion about the woolly mammoths of the past—and possibly future. Scientists have already begun work on recreating the prehistoric animal's DNA through cloning and gene migration, so it’s entirely possible that we might see the return of the mammoth in our lifetime.

Feminists in Fashion With Norma and Christene; Apr 5
Is fashion feminist? That’s the question that Refinery29 co-founder Christene Barberich and designer Norma Kamali will dig into during this conversation with Phyllis Magidson, the curator of costumes and textiles at the Museum of the City of New York.

The Bowery: Past, Present and Future on NYC’s Oldest Street; Apr 11
Thousands of years ago, the first iteration of the Bowery appeared as a Native American footpath. After turning into a Dutch farm road, it became the site of the first free black settlement in the city, a hub of gang activity and finally a home for artists, musicians and outsiders. Celebrate its five-year anniversary of being added to the National Register of Historic Places with this multimedia presentation commemorating the Bowery’s multifaceted history.

Lessons on Love and Heartbreak from 80s and 90s TV; Apr 26
For many ‘80s and ‘90s babies, Ross and Rachel’s never-ending break-up or the love triangles on Dawson’s Creek were our introduction to the world of dating. Relive every adorable meet cute, tearful fight and dramatic reconciliation in this Brooklyn Brainery lecture on the portrayal of love in the era’s sitcoms.

New York at its Core: The Archaeology; May 8
Archaeological digs don’t only happen at ancient Roman towns or Latin American ruins, but right here in New York City. As the city builds, rebuilds and builds some more, construction sites unearth countless items from its past—many of which are dismissed as nothing more than junk. Delve into some of the more unusual found bjects with a panel of archaeologists at the Museum of the City of New York.

Jake Tapper in Conversation With Stephen Colbert; May 9
CNN anchor Jake Tapper tried his hand at fiction with The Hellfire Club, his novel about shady politicians, backroom deals and a secret society in Washington, D.C. He joins Stephen Colbert to discuss the book and his inspiration—we’ve got to know if this has any roots in reality—at this talk at the 92nd Street Y.

Jane Mayer With Paul Holdengraber: Investigative Journalism; May 21
During her career as a nonfiction author and staff writer at The New Yorker, Jane Mayer has covered everything from sexual harassment to the war on terror to foreign policy. In her latest book, Dark Money, she tackles the role fundraising plays in electoral politics. Join her and New York Public Library public programming director Paul Holdengräber for a conversation on investigative journalism’s role in society.

Roxane Gay: Not That Bad; June 11
She’s a force to be reckoned with on Twitter, a feminist icon and one of the most influential writers of the past five years. Roxane Gay tackles rape, assault, harassment and the effect all three have on society in Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture, a collection of first-person essays by female writers. Don’t miss the chance to hear her discuss the subject at this New York Public Library lecture.

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