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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Popular Culture Programs

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, December 9, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The tumultuous friendship between George Harrison and Eric Clapton shaped not only their lives and careers but the shifting face of rock music in the early 1970s. Beatles expert Ken Womack and music historian Jason Kruppa explore the rock legends’ musical and personal collaboration, friendship, and rivalry—and a love triangle for the ages, involving Clapton, Harrison, and Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, December 20, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Everyone loves a holiday visit to Bedford Falls. But it took years for Frank Capra’s now-beloved film—a flop in its 1946 release—to become a Christmas classic. Lecturer Brian Rose examines the fascinating story of It’s a Wonderful Life, looking at the challenges of how it was made, its surprisingly dark portrait of small-town life, and how it evolved into the ultimate portrayal of holiday goodwill and cheer.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Biographer Bob Spitz tells the story of how Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and John Bonham came together to form the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin—one of the most successful (and certainly one of the most notorious) bands of all time.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Virtual reality technology is advancing fast. Many predict that a "Metaverse" of virtual worlds will be the next stage of the Internet. Drawing on his new book Reality+, philosopher David Chalmers examines this technology, the nature of reality, and our place within it.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 2, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Checkers, backgammon, Go, and chess. Poker, Scrabble, and bridge. These seven games, ancient and modern, fascinate millions of people worldwide. Join journalist and author Oliver Roeder as he charts their origins and historical importance, the delightful arcana of their rules, and the ways their design makes them pleasurable.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Brian Rose, a professor emeritus at Fordham University, examines how advertising evolved during television’s first two decades and the important role it played in convincing viewers that the key to happiness quite literally lay in buying their way into the American dream.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, February 15, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

His unique voice and passionate style made Ray Charles one of the most beloved and influential musicians of our time. Music curator John Edward Hasse of the American History Museum celebrates the music, the man, and his place in our country’s cultural history.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, March 1, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

It's easy to think of fairy tales as something distinctly European or antiquated. But folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman discuss the fairy-tale traditions and stories that can be found around the United States, including the Jack Tales of Appalachia, Black folk and fairy tales from the South, and the rise of the Disney fairy-tale empire.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, March 7, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

For more than a century, Hollywood has relied on star power as the most reliable way to draw an audience. From the early days of silent movies, the film studios have recognized the crucial role stars played at the box office. Trace the history of movie stardom, how the star system was changed by television, and how actors have redefined what it means to be a star today with Brian Rose.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Walk the virtual red carpet with Washington City Paper film critic Noah Gittell in an evening that focuses on all things Oscar, from Academy Awards history and trivia to discussions of this unusual year's nominations and behind-the-scenes stories.