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All upcoming Popular Culture programs

All upcoming Popular Culture programs

Showing programs 1 to 10 of 11
June 4, 2024

From the late 1920s through the end of World War II, Hollywood studios dominated film production throughout the world. Despite the economic problems posed by the Depression, several studios produced more than 50 movies a year, including some of the best-loved and most significant films ever made. Media historian Brian Rose examines the forces that made Hollywood the giant of global filmmaking and the special nature of its achievements during its Golden Age.

June 12, 2024

Baseball has always been a symbol as much as a sport, offering a sunny rendering of the American Dream—both the hard work that underpins it and the rewards it promises. Film, which mythologizes all it touches, is the ideal medium to glorify this aspirational idea. Film critic Noah Gittell sheds light on classics and overlooked gems while exploring how baseball cinema creates a stage upon which the American Dream is born, performed, and repeatedly redefined.

June 20, 2024
In-Person & Online

More than 50 years after its debut in April 1968 at Broadway’s Biltmore Theatre in New York City, HAIR continues to celebrate the hippie counterculture of the 1960s. Discussing its ongoing relevance is a panel including theater critic Peter Marks, original Broadway cast members Shelley Plimpton and Dale Soules, and longtime HAIR publicist Merle Frimark, moderated by arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Following the panel discussion, attendees have the rare opportunity to see objects from the National Museum of American History’s HAIR collection that are not on public display and hear from curators Ryan Lintelman and Krystal Klingenberg about collecting the objects. The program also includes a special performance by members of the cast of Signature Theatre’s current production of HAIR.

June 26, 2024

Cary Grant pursued by a menacing biplane. Ominous crows on a jungle gym. Janet Leigh’s fateful shower. With indelible moments like these, director Alfred Hitchcock shocked, thrilled, amused, and delighted movie and TV audiences for a half century. Film historian Max Alvarez traces Hitchcock’s professional and artistic development through electrifying film clips and rare behind-the-scenes archival material illustrating how key Hitchcock productions evolved from page to screen.

July 17, 2024

Billy Wilder, the Polish-born and German-raised genius behind The Apartment and Some Like It Hot, captured the outrageous quirkiness of the United States better than most of his Hollywood contemporaries His caustic and brutal observations manifested themselves in charming and sometimes-outrageous comedies, as well as forceful dramas. Film historian Max Alvarez salutes the laughter and intensity of the great Wilder and his unforgettable film achievements.

July 17, 2024

For more than 60 years, Barbie has been the world’s best-selling fashion doll, inspiring millions of fans to play with, collect, and adore her. Cultural historian Leslie Goddard explores the history of Barbie, beginning with her inventor, the passionately creative and intensely competitive Ruth Handler. Delve into the complex cultural debates Barbie has inspired over the decades.

August 5, 2024

Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs is known for her crime novels chronicling the adventures of Temperance “Bones” Brennan, a forensic anthropologist at the fictional Jeffersonian Institute. Her latest thriller, Fire and Bones, finds Brennan at the center of a Washington, D.C., arson investigation that produces deepening levels of mystery and, ultimately, violence—and a surprising link to the notorious Depression-era Foggy Bottom Gang. Join Reichs as she discusses the inspiration behind the novel and how she staged the thriller in the Smithsonian’s­—or the Jeffersonian’s­­­­—backyard.

August 6, 2024

Dancing has provided some of the most ecstatic moments in film history—whether it’s Fred Astaire gliding on the ceiling in Royal Wedding, Moira Shearer pirouetting through the dreamscape of The Red Shoes, or John Travolta burning up the dance floor in Saturday Night Fever. Sharing more than 75 video clips, media historian Brian Rose surveys 130 years of thrilling movie dance performances.

August 7, 2024

Burt Bacharach composed for countless important artists during his storied 80-year career—which began in his teens­—but he and his lyricist Hal David reserved some of their most visionary work for the magnificent Dionne Warwick. Concert pianist and Bacharach and Warwick fan Rachel Franklin explores the power and depth of their creative relationship and the extraordinary songbook masterpieces these great artists have left us.

August 20, 2024

Film historian Max Alvarez surveys the turbulent film history of China via the brilliant and beautiful collaborations of Fifth Generation filmmaker Zhang Yimou­, whose career emerged in the wake of the Cultural Revolution­, and the stunning actress Gong Li, whose stardom instantly began with their first powerful alliance in Red Sorghum. Her remarkable versatility reinforced Zhang’s themes of resilience in the face of hardship and helped make the director’s later works—arguably compromised by the political pressure he faced—both intoxicating and mesmerizing.