Profs & Pints Baltimore: Shogun and Samurai-Door tickets remain available.

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Thursday, April 11 2024 6:00 PM 8:30 PM EDT

Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.

Profs and Pints Baltimore presents: “Shogun and Samurai,” a look at warriors and their leaders in feudal Japan, with Constantine Vaporis, historian and founder of the Asian Studies program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and author of The Samurai Encyclopedia. A Comprehensive Guide to Japan’s Elite Warrior Elite.

America is experiencing a surge of interest in the ways of feudal Japan thanks to the FX historical drama Shogun, which has earned a considerable following and widespread critical acclaim since its debut last month. A Time Magazine review heralded the ongoing series as a “masterpiece” and “an epic of war, love, faith, honor, culture clash, and political intrigue.” At the end of the day, though, it’s a work of historical fiction, offering a partial and distorted picture.

Join historian and Japan scholar Constantine Vaporis for a talk that will cut like a samurai sword through the hype surrounding the warrior class of feudal Japan and give you a much better understanding of the tumultuous period of Japanese history that Shogun depicts.

Using Shogun as a jumping-off point—but speaking in terms that will make his talk accessible to anyone, regardless of whether they have viewed the series—Vaporis will take us on a journey back in time to Japan during the rule of the Tokugawa shoguns at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

We’ll learn what happened in Japan as the country moved from a century of civil war and overseas adventurism to one of the longest periods of extended peace in the premodern world. Among the questions Dr. Vaporis will tackle: How were Japan’s famed samurai warriors able to stop the fighting and forge such a long period of peace? What were the social costs of that peace for the country’s commoner population not to mention the samurai themselves?

Dr. Vaporis will examine what happened to the samurai—and their long-held martial practices such as ritual suicide, revenge killing, and “following the lord in death”—when the battles ended. He’ll focus heavily on the individual stories of men like Toyotomi Hideyoshi (or “Taiko” in the FX series), Tokugawa Ieyasu (the first shogun, or “Toranaga”), and other samurai such as Yamauchi Katsutoyo, Kumazawa Banzan, and Asano Naganori. They might seem like strangers to you now, but you’ll have a hard time forgetting them after the talk ends. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Doors open at 5. Talk begins at 6:30.)

Image: From an 1873 woodblock print of Tokugawa shogunate founder Tokugawa Ieyasu by Utagawa Yoshitora / Wikimedia Commons