Back To School | Top 10 Upcoming Lectures And Talks In NYC

Photo of Caitrin K. Sneed
27 September 2016

New York may still be sweltering now, but before you know it that autumn crispness will return and the City will be flooded with college students returning from summer vacation. For those returning students, but more importantly all the eternal students of New York looking for panels and lectures to expand their minds, here are ten spots that host talks to wake your brain up from its summer slumber.

The Strand | © drivebysh00ter/Flickr

The Strand

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Strand Books, New York, USA.
Strand Books in New York has over 18 miles of books | © Strand Books
The Strand is more than just a great bookstore! Readings, panels and lectures are frequently held at The Strand. Writers, editors and book lovers should check out The Secrets of Book Publishing with Sue Shapiro on August 5th, 2015 for an inside look into the publishing industry.

d Street Y

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MoMA | © Liza/Flickr
92Y is without a doubt one of the best community centers in NYC, so it’s no surprise their talks rank highly on this list. 92Y’s lecturer list is more star-studded than most. Coming up in early September is ‘Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis’ a series of discussions about the culture and inner world of fashion. Fern Mallis and Iman will be at 92Y on September 8. Other notable upcoming talks include George Takei of Star Trek fame speaking about his experience in an internment camp in WWII-era LA as a Japanese American. And don’t miss ‘Nate Silver and Guests: Election 2016 by the Numbers,’ a look at the upcoming 2016 election with statistician Nate Silver.


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A visit to the MOMA can be mind-opening enough as it is, but for those wishing to expand or exercise their artistic vocabulary and engage with the art world in a more intensive way, check out ‘Open Table: Artists Working with Education’ for an open table discussion about learning as a form of art. This conversation with artists Wendy Ewald and Pato Hebert, along with curator Maria del Carmen Carrion is scheduled to take place on August 5th and August 26th, 2015.

The New School

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Long a hub of public intellectuals and activists, The New School’s public events are some of the most vibrant in the city. These events are not for those looking to learn a new fact or two about art history; they are for progressive, intersectionally minded, politically engaged individuals. And they are awesome. On Wednesday, August 12, 2015, no matter if you aren’t in New York, tune in to the livestream link to see US Senator Claire McCaskill and MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski discuss Senator McCaskill’s new memoir, politics and sexism. Also coming up at The New School is the 3-day “Queering Immigration Conference” which will be full of talks and lectures looking to queer the dialogue around immigration justice and build a broader immigrant support network that serves trans and queer immigrant communities.

New York Historical Society

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For all the history nerds out there, New-York Historical Society is the place to go. For a great upcoming lecture, check out ‘The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War’ with Don H. Doyle, a professor of history at the University of South Carolina on August 26th, 2015 at the Reading Room in Bryant Park. Bonus – this event is free!

The New York Academy of Medicine

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art | © Phil Roeder
On August 17th, 2015, The New York Academy of Medicine will be having a lecture on the thing all New Yorkers desperately try to not really think about, as they are completely surrounded by it: trash. Life Along the Curb: Inside the Department of Sanitation of New York is anthropologist Robin Nagle’s look at the political and cultural complexities of managing trash. You’ll still hold your breath as you weave your way through the piles of trash on the street to get home, but you’ll be doing it in an enlightened way after this talk. The New York Academy of Medicine regularly holds talks on all things health and medicine that are worth checking out throughout the year. This event will be held at the Museum of the City of New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Met provides a myriad of free lectures, ticketed talks and tours on art and its historical and social context that are perfect for art history buffs and enthusiasts alike. Unlike the talks at the MOMA, The Met frequently utilizes a more traditional lecture style, so you can learn about art from the safety of your seat without the fear of being called on to verbally contribute. The Met’s abundance of talks can leave you overwhelmed when trying to find a starting point, so we recommend ‘Ritualized Bravery: The Royal Hunt in Indian Painting and Photography,’ presented by Deborah Hutton on September 18, 2015 (it’s free with museum admission).

Morbid Anatomy Museum

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Morbid Anatomy Museum never fails to deliver weird, disgusting, morbid and utterly intriguing exhibitions and talks. For those new to this exploration of “the intersections of Death, Beauty and that which falls between the cracks,” as the museum puts it, check out ‘Man Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal,’ a lecture on Alfred G. Packer A.K.A. the Man Eater. Wonderfully enough, this one is on the tamer side within the slew of lectures from which to pick. Admission is $5.

New York Public Library

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The NYPL has free lectures all year long that range broadly in topic. Coming up in August 2015 is Onstage Outlaws: Mae West and Texas Guinan During the Lawless Prohibition Era and in September, ‘The Ziegfeld Girls,’ with Marty Schneit, a Licensed New York City Tour Guide, a look at the creation of this symbol of female independence and Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet. Whether those sound interesting to you or not, check out NYPL’s full list of lectures for constantly changing choices and opportunities to hear great lectures for free.

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