World-Changing Women: The Leaders Who Built the Modern World

New Course!


Hot Docs at Home Wed, Sep 30 12:00 PM
Streaming until February 1
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This new series from Curious Minds favourite Laura Carlson (Meals that Changed the World) will examine the lives and worldviews of six female leaders who left their mark on history. As we explore the vibrant legacies of these shrewd politicians, insightful thinkers and advocates for change, we’ll take an exciting journey from ancient Egypt to Renaissance Europe to twentieth century America and explore how they challenged social conventions to wield power and influence. Each a legend in their own right, offering a unique and inspiring model for leadership, these remarkable women played an essential role in building our modern world. 

Led by Dr. Laura Carlson, who holds a doctorate in History from Oxford University and has taught history, classics, and food studies at Queen’s University and Centennial College. Dr. Carlson is also the executive producer and host of award-winning podcast, The Feast.

The six lectures in this series will all be available to stream as of Thursday, October 29. Once they are online, you can access each lecture at your leisure by clicking on links in your confirmation email, or by visiting your My Shows page.

Lecture 1: The First Femme Fatale: Cleopatra (69–30 BCE)
The last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty of Egypt, Cleopatra was an astute strategist who understood the changing political landscape of the ancient Mediterranean. Cleopatra’s alliance with Mark Antony, famed as one of the greatest love affairs in history, brought both the Roman Republic and Ptolemaic Egypt to its knees.

Lecture 2: The Power Broker: 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. We’ll explore the ruthless decision-making, creative thinking and openness to technological change she used to govern the Tang Dynasty, a period often remembered as a golden age of Chinese civilization.

Lecture 3: The Renaissance Woman: Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519)
A member of one of Italy’s most powerful—and infamous—families, Lucrezia Borgia has often been considered a synonym for the excesses of the Italian Renaissance. But this shrewd political operator, daughter of the notorious Pope Alexander VI, was more than just a pawn to men’s personal whims, wielding exceptional influence during one of the world’s greatest eras of cultural invention and renewal.

Lecture 4: The Empire Builder: Catherine the Great (1729-1796)
As ambitious as she was charismatic, Catherine assumed the Russian throne with the aim of bringing the country into the orbit of Europe. Over the course of her twenty-year reign, she more than surpassed this goal—and the achievements of her male predecessors—by expanding Russian territory, rebuilding the Russian State and making essential contributions to the continent’s cultural, artistic and intellectual life.

Lecture 5: The “Moses of Her People”: Harriet Tubman (c. 1820–1913)
One of the most beloved and respected abolitionists in the history of the United States, Tubman found her own way to freedom before dedicating her life to leading over 300 fugitive slaves to Canada via the Underground Railroad. With a long, full life that spanned distinct periods in American history, the steel-willed Tubman has become an almost mythic figure, and we’ll explore the real-life heroism that earned her the status of the “Moses of her People.”

Lecture 6: The Champion of Human Rights: Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)
As First Lady to one of America’s most celebrated Presidents, Eleanor Roosevelt served as a tireless advocate for housing reform, child welfare, and equal rights for women and minority communities. As chairperson of the UN’s Commission of Human Rights, she helped to forge the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We’ll close our series by looking at a woman who refused to be defined by her marriage—and redefined what it means to live a life of courage and freedom. 

Additional Information

Course registration: $49 (Hot Docs Members: $33, $27, Free)

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