Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints DC presents: “How Mad Scientists are Made,” a look at monstrous experiments and quests for forbidden knowledge in literature, folklore, and film, with Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, former instructors at Ohio State University and co-founders of The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic.
“It’s alive!” the Dr. Frankenstein of films exclaimed. And so too was—and remains—one of our culture’s most intriguing tropes, the figure of the “mad scientist.”
But what, exactly, does it mean to be a mad scientist? With no university listing “mad science” among its degree programs, how does one qualify for that title?
Step into DC’s Bier Baron Tavern and prepare to learn with the help of Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, two favorites of Profs and Pints fans back on the stage for the first time in more than two years. Their talk will be about as much fun as you can have without getting hauled out of chemistry class and expelled from school.
They will look at how, even before the term “mad scientist” existed, such figures filled the pages of folklore, thrillers, and even fairy tales. These iconic characters’ incessant pursuit of knowledge unites them and dooms them, reflecting both the innovation and hubris of humankind.
Dr. Cleto and Dr. Warman will reacquaint you with Dr. Jekyll, who attempts to perfect himself but instead creates a monstrous double that consumes him, and Dr. Moreau, who blurs the line between the human and the animal. You’ll spend time with Watho, the witch of the fairy tale "The Day Boy and the Night Girl," who performs elaborate experiments on children, and with Dr. Raymond of the novella The Great God Pan, who attempts to infuse a human body with a god.
Though society has advanced and science has progressed since these early figures, the mad scientist remains a staple of stories that ask “What happens when we go too far?” In the strange and unsettling 1940s novella The Invention of Morel, a mad scientist attempts immortality via technology at an impossible cost. More recent iterations of the mad scientist can be found in contemporary films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the movies of the Spiderman franchise, and even Ghostbusters.
You’ll get to know these characters, as well as others, in an environment known for pint glasses rather than test tubes. (Advance tickets: $12. 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: A still from the 1935 film Bride of Frankenstein.