All January lectures are from 10:00 - 11:00 AM and are held in the Spring Valley Building, 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW, in Room A on the First Floor.


Due to limited seating, reservations through Eventbrite are required to attend lectures. 

Member Reservations: We e-mail the registration link to current members at 8:30 AM on the Tuesday preceding the next week’s lectures. 

Non-Member Reservations: We e-mail the registration link to non-members at 8:30 AM on the Wednesday preceding the next week’s lectures. The registration link is also placed at that time on the website.

Each registrant may reserve one seat. Your name must be on the list of registrants to enter the lecture and you must be in your seat five minutes before the lecture starts to guarantee your seat. Visit https://www.olli-dc.org/lecture_series_overview for more information.


TUESDAY January 15, 2019—Pamela O. Long

Infrastructure in the Eternal City

Devastating floods occurred like clockwork, major bridges were unstable, and great ancient treasures were sinking into the marshy flood plain as authorities fought over who should pay for repairs. Sound familiar? What did the Romans do almost 150 years after the Popes returned from exile in Avignon and successive pontiffs, cardinals, and nobles jockeyed to outdo each other with fabulous building projects? The story of the building and engineering of 16th Century Rome has modern resonance, involving technological disruption, greed, ambition, and gridlock. 

Pamela O. Long is a MacArthur “Genius Award” Fellowship recipient who is an independent scholar of late medieval and early modern Europe and of the history of science and technology. She is the author of Openness, Secrecy, Authorship, Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance, among other publications. Her latest book, on which the talk will be based, is Engineering the Eternal City: Infrastructure, Topography, and the Culture of Knowledge in Late Sixteenth-Century Rome (Chicago, 2018). She has taught at Princeton and Johns Hopkins, among other universities as a visiting professor.