Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints DC presents: “Britain Beneath the Frosting,” a look at The Great British Baking Show, Brexit, and other ingredients of a troubled nation, with Sam Wetherell, lecturer on British and World History at the University of York and author of Foundations: How the Built Environment Made Twentieth-Century Britain.
Through TV shows, tourist attractions, children’s books, and royal marriages, Britain has done a clever job of rebranding itself and making its history and character more palatable to other nations. For most Americans, references to its past conjure up visions of steam trains and drafty country where deferential servants looked after dim-witted aristocrats. The Great British Baking Show, with its verdant settings, prominent flags, and carefully cultivated niceness, represents the epitome of how today's Britain has been idealized.
Could it be, though, that almost everything Americans understand about Britain, its history, and its place in the world is wrong? Is a nation what created the world's most gigantic empire, and spent centuries violently remaking the world in its own image, maintaining a positive reputation through sleight of hand?
With the sunset of its industry and empire, and with its attempted imminent departure from Europe, Britain is a country unsure of what to do with itself. The purpose of its large cities, which sprang up during the industrial revolution, is increasingly unclear. Its economic prospects are uncertain, its place in the world in doubt. It turns to baking as spectator sport to keep its mind of its growing irrelevance. Its own relationship with its history is distorted by nostalgia and amnesia, with its imperialism celebrated, its past racism forgotten.
How did we get here? And what does any of this have to do with biscuits, crumble, and tarts? Hear such questions tackled by Sam Wetherell, the author of a book on how Britain’s urban landscape and culture were reimagined throughout the twentieth century. If you find yourself craving dessert, Little Penn Coffeehouse has plenty of delicious pastries on hand. (Advance tickets: $12. 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.)