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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Popular Culture Programs


Jazz: Modern Soundscapes in Film

Tuesday, August 23, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Some of the world’s greatest movie scores were composed by some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians. With film clips, commentary, and live piano demonstrations, concert musician and movie fanatic Rachel Franklin delves into the hidden magic of some of the finest jazz-inspired music from films including A Streetcar Named Desire, The Sweet Smell of Success, Alfie, and Birdman.


Rockin' TV: From Elvis to the Monkees

Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Though rock music found a surprising home on mainstream TV in the mid-1950s, the 1964 appearance of the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” would change the face of pop culture, leading to an explosion of televised rock. Media expert Brian Rose offers a lively survey of the fascinating history of how rock and television grew up together.


How Baseball Became A National Pastime

Thursday, September 29, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

For sports historian Kenneth Cohen, how baseball quickly surpassed other pastimes and became a primary symbol of American uniqueness by the end of the 19th century is a story that’s partly about the powers of marketing in a modernizing nation and partly about the genuinely democratizing potential of a game that everyone could play. Join him as he explores baseball's rise and the decidedly undemocratic response it sparked, as well as the debate about whether it continues to deserve its eminent status as our national pastime today.


Jim Thorpe: Outracing the Odds

Thursday, October 6, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: Jim Thorpe rose to world fame as a mythic talent who excelled at every sport, but despite his colossal skills, his life was a struggle against the odds. Biographer David Maraniss discusses America’s greatest all-around athlete, a man who endured in the face of racism, alcohol abuse, broken marriages, and financial distress—and so did his myth.


Jacques Pépin on the Art of the Chicken

Thursday, October 6, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Legendary chef Jacques Pepin celebrates his love of chickens as he reminisces on his life through the lens of the humble bird. Spend a delightful evening listening to the chef recall his childhood and career, and his celebrated paintings of chickens (of course!). He also shares recipes, along with poignant memories and the stories behind them.


Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan: A Novel Duo

Saturday, October 15, 2022 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. ET

In-Person and Online Program: New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is known for her compelling storytelling that thoughtfully tackles contemporary issues. For her latest novel, she teamed up with author Jennifer Finney Boylan to create the suspenseful Mad Honey. Join them as they discuss what it was like to work together and their inspiration behind the novel.


The Films of Alfred Hitchcock

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

In a career spanning 5 decades, film director Alfred Hitchcock made 54 films, including such classics as The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Notorious, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Vertigo, and Psycho. Brian Rose, professor emeritus at Fordham University, looks at Hitchcock’s achievements as the Master of Suspense and through dozens of film clips, examines his extraordinary creativity as one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers.


From Streaming TV to the Oscars: How Netflix Disrupted the Entertainment Industry

Thursday, November 3, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From its start as a DVD-by-mail rental service, Netflix has systematically changed the rules of the media business. Media expert Brian Rose explores how Netflix is primed to become the dominant source of leisure time entertainment throughout the world.