What we're about
Profs and Pints brings professors and other college instructors into bars, cafes, and other venues to give fascinating talks or to conduct instructive workshops. They cover a wide range of subjects, including history, politics, popular culture, horticulture, literature, creative writing, and personal finance. Anyone interested in learning and in meeting people with similar interests should join. Lectures are structured to allow at least a half hour for questions and an additional hour for audience members to meet each other. Admission to Profs and Pints events requires the purchase of tickets, either in advance (through the link provided in event descriptions) or at the door to the venue. Many events sell out in advance.
Although Profs and Pints has a social mission--expanding access to higher learning while offering college instructors a new income source--it is NOT a 501c3. It was established as a for-profit company in hopes that, by developing a profitable business model, it would be able to spread to other communities much more quickly than a nonprofit dependent on philanthropic support. That said, it is welcoming partners and collaborators as it seeks to build up audiences and spread to new cities. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest in Profs and Pints.
Peter Schmidt, Founder, Profs and Pints
Upcoming events (4+)
Profs and Pints DC presents: “Russia’s War for Minds,” a look at Vladimir Putin’s propaganda apparatus and the Russian media landscape, with Ksenia Turkova, linguist, former news anchor in Russia and Ukraine, and guest lecturer at American universities.
Advance tickets: $12. Available at https://profsandpints.ticketleap.com/sputnik/
The recent Moscow killing of Daria Dugina, daughter of famous Russian ultra-nationalist philosopher-propagandist Alexander Dugin and a propagandist in her own right, highlighted how much the war in Ukraine is seen as a battle for minds. Sharing the same views as her father, Dugina had regularly appeared on Russian TV shows to stir up hatred against Ukraine and the West and to dismiss reports of war crimes by Russia as fake news involving staged atrocities.
Learn in depth about Russia’s propaganda efforts, as well as how the war has changed the media landscape on both sides, with Dr. Ksenia Turkova, a journalist for Voice of America who will be speaking in her personal capacity as someone with a doctorate in philology and more than 20 years of experience at Russian and Ukrainian news outlets. She’ll discuss both the key players in this battle for minds and the tools and tactics that they use.
Dr. Turkova will describe how more than 150 journalists have left Russia because they decided they could not continue working in an environment where they were being persecuted and threatened and where a new law subjected them to 15 years of prison if they used the word “war” instead of “special operation.” Nearly all of what Russians now hear about the war is filtered through a propaganda apparatus that relies heavily on euphemism, hate speech, and “mirroring”—accusing other of what they have accused you of doing—to paint a distorted picture.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, all of the media, owned by different oligarchs, has united in joining a government-controlled effort to broadcast only one point of view.
The old adage holds that “truth is the first casualty of war.” This talk will illustrate how true that is, and make clear how those involved in the dissemination of fact and opinion can become casualties themselves. (Doors: $15, save $2 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in. The Bier Baron will be requiring event attendees to purchase a minimum of two items, which can be food or beverages, including soft drinks.)
Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the leadership and correspondents of RT, a state-controlled international news television network. (Image from Putin’s official Web site.)
Profs and Pints DC presents: “Understanding China’s Leader,” a look at the background and rule of President Xi Jinping, with Joseph Torigian, assistant professor in American University’s School of International Service, scholar of authoritarian regimes, and author of Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao.
Advance tickets: $12. Available at https://profsandpints.ticketleap.com/xi/
October 16th marks the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s Twentieth Party Congress. The gathering, held every five years and the most important event on China’s political calendar, is always widely watched by the outside world for clues about China’s trajectory at home and abroad. This year, however, it’s especially significant, in that most analysts believe that Xi Jinping will win a historic third term as China’s top leader.
Xi is both one of the most powerful men in the world and one of the most mysterious, notable for how little is known about him. But Profs and Pints offers you a chance to gain insights into him with the help of Professor Joseph Torigian, whose first book examined elite power struggles in China and the Soviet Union and whose second, forthcoming book is a biography of Xi Jinping’s father.
Professor Torigian will discuss how Xi’s leadership style combines both new and old elements of Chinese politics, and how many assessments of him fail to grasp the complexities of Chine’s elite or the role of ideology in China today. Although Xi clearly believes that only devotion and conviction among party members can save the Chinese Communist Party, his experiences during the Mao era suggest that he views radical politics with both skepticism and distaste. He seems determined to maintain the economic vitality produced by the “reform and opening up” initiated by one of his predecessors, Deng Xiaoping, while drawing upon earlier periods to deal with the challenges to regime stability that economic reform brought.
The Wall Street Journal once published an article headlined: “How the U.S. Misread China’s Xi: Hoping for a Globalist, It Got an Autocrat.” Dr. Torigian will give you a nuanced understanding of Xi and what’s at stake for the U.S. as it tries to make sense of his leadership style. (Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)
Image: President Xi Jinping of China as photographed in 2016. Photo by Narendra Modi / Wikimedia Commons.
Profs and Pints DC presents: “Photos of Ghosts,” a look at the history of purported photographs of apparitions and the controversies surrounding them, with Beth Saunders, art historian and curator and head of special collections at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Advance tickets: $12. Available at https://profsandpints.ticketleap.com/boooooo/
Since its invention in 1839, photography has been hailed for its ability to record an accurate image of reality. Its presumed truthfulness has made the new medium an ideal tool for scientific investigation, and the camera was quickly harnessed to record phenomena previously unseen by the naked eye. They include microscopic bacteria, distant nebulae—and more than a few ghosts.
Join Beth Saunders, a curator and art historian who has published on apparition photographs and the art of conspiracy, for a fascinating look at the history of spirit photography and its associated controversies and hoaxes.
She’ll look at three key moments in the history of spirit photography that sparked public debates between skeptics and believers, beginning with the sensational fraud trial of Boston and New York-based photographer William Mumler, who rose to fame in the 1860s with portrait photographs featuring apparitions of the deceased loved ones of those depicted. She’ll examine what Mumler’s activities tell us about the role of photography in Spiritualism—a religion whose adherents believe in the continuity of life after death—and about the darkroom techniques that detractors regard as providing a rational explanation for spirit photographs.
From there, she’ll discuss the case of Ted Serios, a man who in the 1960s claimed to be able to project his thoughts on photographic film. She will describe how his defenders attempted to refute his critics by citing his use of instant Polaroid technology, which did away with darkroom trickery. Similarly, during the 1970s devotees of the Virgin Mary used Polaroids to record her saintly visitations, arguing that the instantaneous images, being were harder to tamper with, offered spiritual proof.
Finally, Dr. Saunders will discuss the legacy of spirit photography within the digital age, including orb photographs made with cell phone cameras. As part of this she’ll look at the impact of Photoshop and of computer-generated deep fakes.
She’ll discuss how tracing the history of spirit photography explains the enduring faith we have in photography overall, and she’ll consider why photographs still hold compelling evidentiary power despite their potential to be manipulated.
Regardless of whether you have seen any ghosts, you’ll love seeing this talk. (Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)
Image from a William H. Mumler portrait of a man sitting in the presence of the ghosts of children. J. Paul Getty Museum / Creative Commons
Profs and Pints DC presents: “When Vampires Arose,” a look at early vampire beliefs and folklore, with Stanley Joseph Stepanic, who teaches a course on Dracula and vampire folklore as an assistant professor of Slavic languages and literature at the University of Virginia.
Advance tickets: $12. Available at https://profsandpints.ticketleap.com/vampyr/
The vampires of ancient folklore might be unrecognizable to kids these days. They weren’t sexy like many of those in the True Blood series, or hilarious like those in What We Do in the Shadows, or powerful monsters like the Dracula figure in the Castlevania video game series.
No, the original vampires stuck to what vampires do best: Drinking blood, rising from the dead, and scaring the heck out of people.
Join leading vampire expert Stanley Joseph Stepanic in digging far back into history to uncover the vampires of the past. In the first of two talks he’ll be delivering as part of a vampiric doubleheader in the dark confines of DC’s Bier Baron Tavern, he’ll discuss the vampires of ancient folklore and track their development up to their earliest media depictions.
We’ll begin by looking at pre-Christian Slavic beliefs concerning the dead, and then progress through time to the “Great Vampire Epidemic” of the eighteenth century. You’ll learn how that particular historical event caused the vampire to enter popular consciousness in Western Europe, giving root to the first popular-culture vampire and a cultural phenomenon that swept through Gothic literature and before making an appearance on stage.
The talk is being staged at the brunch hour, and, yes, Bloody Marys will be served. (Doors: $15, save $2 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in. The Bier Baron will be requiring event attendees to purchase a minimum of two items, which can be food or beverages, including soft drinks.)
Image: This 800-year-old "vampire" skeleton in Bulgaria had been stabbed through the chest with an iron rod. Photo: Bin im Garten / Wikimedia Commons.