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Profs and Pints series in Charlottesville will bite into vampire folklore and history

Whether you prefer classic Hollywood vampires in black tie and courtly accents or the current heartthrobs in leather jackets and chilling contact lenses, you likely would not have had crushes on the vampires of centuries gone by.

An upcoming gathering at the Graduate Charlottesville hotel, part of a scholarly social lecture series that’s expanding to the city, offers curious listeners a chance to sink their teeth into the folklore and facts behind the pop-culture hype.

“Profs and Pints Charlottesville: The Life of the Vampire,” featuring Stanley Joseph Stepanic from the University of Virginia, is set for March 21 at the Graduate on West Main Street. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with the talk starting at 6 p.m.

Stepanic, an assistant professor of Slavic languages and literature at UVa, will sweep audience members back to the ninth century to learn about vampire lore that predates popular images of sexy, smoldering anti-heroes.

Profs and Pints founder Peter Schmidt said the series, which made its Charlottesville debut last month, makes the enrichment of higher learning more accessible and offers people from all walks of life a chance to meet and delve into shared interests in history, science, psychology and other disciplines.

February’s inaugural outing, “The Ancient Origins of Valentine’s Day,” brought Longwood University professor Larissa “Kat” Tracy to the hotel for a closer look at the life and death of St. Valentine, the Roman celebration of Lupercalia and the Irish festival of Imbole.

Past topics presented in other cities have included “Dolphins of the Potomac,” “What Hurricanes Are Telling Us,” “Meet the Real Indiana Jones,” “A World Heritage of Tattooing,” “Titanic Mistakes,” “The Christmas Truce of 1914,” “DC, District of Coyotes,” “Dreams of Intelligent Machines,” “The Sea Monsters of Prehistoric Dallas” and “The Year Civilization Collapsed.”

Other talks have focused on history, folklore, international affairs, law and gender and women’s studies. Participating scholars also have weighed in so far on economics, engineering, anthropology, archaeology, computer science, astronomy, art, animals and the environment.

Stepanic’s popular classes fill up quickly at UVa, and his event for Profs and Pints Richmond sold out last summer, Schmidt said.

Schmidt, who launched Profs and Pints in October 2017 after spending 21 years as a reporter and editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education, said events in cities from Annapolis to Indianapolis delve into everything from birdwatching to the Civil War, bringing together people who may not have realized that so many other folks would like to geek out together.

“I consider this a way to get people with shared beliefs and interests a way to meet,” Schmidt said. “It’s a great way for people to meet who are interested in the same thing. You’re not trying to talk over loud music.”

The events, featuring scholars from a pool of more than 100, draw college students and people in their 20s to 60s and older. Women ages 20 to 40 have been a prominent demographic. In addition to helping like-minded audience members meet, the series helps scholars reach listeners beyond their typical classroom and civic-group settings.

Profs and Pints also has presences on Meetup and Facebook for folks who like to gather around shared interests.

Tickets for the March 21 event in Charlottesville are $17 at the door, or $15 with a valid student ID; advance tickets are $13.50. Expect taxes and fees as well. Learn more at


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