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All upcoming Popular Culture programs

All upcoming Popular Culture programs

Programs 1 to 10 of 12
Monday, August 5, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

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.


Tuesday, August 6, 2024 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

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.


Wednesday, August 7, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

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.


Tuesday, August 20, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

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.


Tuesday, September 17, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Hollywood has always depended on blockbusters. But beginning in 1974, filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas changed the way movies were made. Working together (the Indiana Jones series) and separately (E.T the Extra-Terrestrial., The Empire Strikes Back), they introduced the age of the modern blockbuster, which features elaborate special effects and thrilling spectacle, in contrast to previous blockbusters defined by prestigious adaptations and star power. Media historian Brian Rose looks at Lucas’ and Spielberg’s four decades of filmmaking.


Wednesday, September 18, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Sports columnist Joe Posnanski uses his new book, Why We Love Football, to kick off reminiscences about pivotal moments in the sport, from epic comeback games to stellar feats of athleticism. He’s joined by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and veteran Washington Post football reporter Len Shapiro for a lively conversation about the sport moderated by Phil Hochberg, longtime stadium announcer for the Washington Football Team.


Monday, September 30, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman discuss the versatile figure of the witch in the folkloric medium of the fairy tale. Focusing on the collection of the Brothers Grimm, Cleto and Warman explore the many distinctive witches they gave us and their relationships to self-determination, community, and nature.


Monday, October 7, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Television news has undergone remarkable transformations in the last seven decades. From the “Camel News Caravan” with John Cameron Swayze in 1948 to the “CBS Evening News” with Walter Cronkite in 1963 to 24/7 coverage on CNN and then cable, coverage has changed in availability and character. Media historian Brian Rose looks at these sweeping changes and examines the impact of television journalism.


Wednesday, October 9, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Over the past half century, dwarves, hobbits, magic, dragons, runes, and other staples of fantastic realms have become entrenched in popular culture, from The Lord of the Rings to the Harry Potter series. There are substantive historical inspirations behind these phenomena. Historian Justin M. Jacobs discusses the evolving conceptions of fantastic elements in Eurasian history and lays bare the truth behind what he sees as four distorted myths of fantasy in our culture in this fall series. This session focuses on the history of magic.


Wednesday, October 16, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Over the past half century, dwarves, hobbits, magic, dragons, runes, and other staples of fantastic realms have become entrenched in popular culture, from The Lord of the Rings to the Harry Potter series. There are substantive historical inspirations behind these phenomena. Historian Justin M. Jacobs discusses the evolving conceptions of fantastic elements in Eurasian history and lays bare the truth behind what he sees as four distorted myths of fantasy in our culture in this fall series. This session focuses on elves, dwarves, and hobbits.