Profs and Pints is bringing a fantastic new nightlife alternative to Philadelphia with great talks at the  

Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown Center City 

219 South Broad Street


Keep an eye out for its expansion to other venues in and around Philadelphia and get your name on the metro Philadelphia  mailing list using the online form below.

Profs and Pints looks forward to staging more fantastic talks in Philadelphia in 2020. Check back here for details. Venues interested in hosting Profs and Pints events, and people interested in becoming Profs and Pints speakers or hosts, should email

“Horror in the East,” a look at truly frightening Buddhist beliefs and rituals, with Justin McDaniel, professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, founder of the Penn Ghost Project, and former Buddhist monk.

6 pm Tues., October 22nd at the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown Center City

Westerners often regard Buddhism as a religion of peace, meditation, and compassion. While this is often true, it ignores the horrific and phantasmagoric side of many Buddhist rituals and beliefs. Those include practices such as meditating on corpses, strolling through giant Hell Gardens filled with terrifying images, and telling stories about haunting and highly sexualized ghosts. It’s no wonder that Buddhist countries produce some of the most violent horror films in the world.

Join Professor McDaniel for an entertaining and visual talk looking at the ways in which Buddhists in Japan, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Singapore, and other places embrace the macabre. You’ll leave with a much richer understanding of Buddhism and the cultures and worldviews that gave rise to horror movies that can scare the wits out of you.

Dr. McDaniel has lived a life that gives him distinct expertise on this subject matter. He has published award-winning books on meditation, ghosts, and Buddhist literature, studies Buddhist art, and translates Buddhist manuscripts. He lived for many years in Southeast Asia, where he conducted research as a Fulbright Fellow, taught and translated, and became a Buddhist monk. He also regularly gives cemetery tours and founded the Penn Ghost Project, an interdisciplinary effort to study beliefs in spirits from the beyond. At Penn he has long waiting lists for his courses such as “Living Deliberately” and “Existential Despair,” and he recently launched the on-line course “Gods, Ghosts, and Monsters.” Hearing him speak will be a Halloween-season treat.

The talk will be staged at the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown Center City, part of the national Cambria Hotels group, through a collaboration between Cambria Hotels and Profs and Pints intended to expand access to higher learning in Philadelphia and other American cities. 

Tickets are $12 and must be purchased online and in advance.

A mural painted on the walls of a Buddhist monastery in Thailand depicts a monk meditating on a corpse. (Photo by Justin McDaniel.)

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Profs and Pints talks represent a great way to introduce young people to various academic fields. Please note, however, that all talks are delivered on an adult level and may feature mature content. Unless otherwise stated in event descriptions, anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 

A note from Profs and Pints CEO Peter Schmidt about diversity among presenters:

In my recruitment of speakers I am committed to diversity in all of its forms, including gender, race, and ideological orientation. I encourage any college faculty member interested in being featured by Profs and Pints to click this link for important background on the lectures and workshops that Profs and Pints offers and to email for additional information on how to apply.

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