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Virtual Lecture Series - Women Who Helped to Shape the Modern World

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The true stories of eight women who shaped history, leaving powerful legacies that continue to affect our world.

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Discover eight women who shaped history, leaving powerful legacies that continue to affect our world. Shrewd politicians, insightful thinkers, advocates for change: these women navigated extraordinary circumstances to hold positions of authority and influence. Each of these complex and often controversial women from ancient Egypt to twentieth century America challenged conventions of a rightful woman’s place. In this series of lectures, we will uncover the true stories of these legendary eight women who helped build our modern world.

14 October 2021 Cleopatra (69–30 BCE)The last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty of Egypt, Cleopatra has been defined by her role as femme fatale. But who was the woman behind the legend? Daughter and wife of Egyptian royalty, Cleopatra ruled Egypt as queen for more than two decades, an astute political actor who understood the changing political landscape of the ancient Mediterranean and the growing shadow of mighty Rome.

21 October 2021 Empress Wu Zetian (625–705 CE)The only woman in 3,000 years of Chinese history to rule in her own right, Empress Wu Zetian has often been the subject of scandal and intrigue. Discover the details of her legacy, which teeters between accusations of murder and landmark technological innovation. Ruling for fifty years, Empress Wu presided over the Tang Dynasty, an era often remembered as a golden age of Chinese civilization.

28 October 2021 Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204)Duchess, queen, and regent: Eleanor of Aquitaine’s influence can be seen throughout most of the western medieval world. As ruler of Aquitaine, Eleanor controlled one of the most sought-after lands in medieval Europe. Her marriages, first to Louis VII of France and later to Henry II of England, shaped the futures of both countries for centuries and redefined the role of queen.

4 November 2021 Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519)A member of the infamous Borgia family, Lucrezia Borgia has often been considered a synonym for the excesses and evils of the Italian Renaissance. Daughter of notorious Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia’s multiple marriages and torrid affairs have left a legacy of crime and corruption attached to her name. Rather than a pawn to men’s political and personal whims, Lucrezia Borgia might have been a shrewder spider in the web of Italian politics than many have given her credit for.

11 November 2021 Christina of Sweden (1626-1689)Remembered as one of the most learned women of the 17th century, Queen Christina’s rule over Sweden was as unexpected as it was short. During her brief reign, Christina transformed Sweden’s artistic and intellectual circles, attracting scholars, scientists and artists from around the world to Stockholm. Crowned sole queen and ruler, Christina enjoyed unusual political power as a woman in the 17th century, especially given her public refusal to ever marry.

18 November 2021 Catherine the Great (1729-1796)Famed for both her political and her private life, Catherine the Great assumed the turbulent imperial throne of Russia with an aim to bring the country into full participation with the political and cultural life of Europe. Ambitious as she was charismatic, Catherine’s reign witnessed cataclysmic changes to all levels of Russian society. With a firm grip on the throne, Catherine navigated the perilous path of a woman in power in the 18th century. Over the course of her twenty-year reign, Catherine achieved feats unthinkable by her male predecessors.

25 November 2021 Harriet Tubman (c. 1820–1913) Known as the “Moses of her people,” Harriet Tubman is one of the most beloved and respected abolitionists in the history of the United States. Born into slavery, Tubman found her own way to freedom before dedicating her life to leading more than 300 fugitive slaves to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman’s life spans a time of pivotal change in the United States. In this lecture, we will explore both the truth and the legends of Tubman’s long, full life.

2 December 2021 Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) In the concluding lecture of the series, we look at Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the most widely admired and powerful women of the twentieth century. A woman who reshaped America’s idea of a First Lady, Eleanor refused to adhere to society’s expectations of a politician’s wife. Eleanor was not defined by her marriage, building a legacy out of her advocacy for housing reform, child welfare and equal rights for women and minority communities.

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Organizer Lifelong Learning Mississauga

Organizer of Virtual Lecture Series - Women Who Helped to Shape the Modern World

LIfelong Learning Mississauga was formed to engage older adults from Mississauga in continuous learning.  We offer informative and affordable lecture series on a wide range of themes and topics. Talks are led by recognized leaders in their field in a relaxed, social atmosphere.

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