Tobacco Talk: How to Share Your Research

Gesture of Smoking logo

Just puff
and aim a beam
of smoke at nothing
but the fact of satisfaction …
What seems a treasure
in this world is not
for us to measure.
Sometimes it’s quite
enough to marvel
at a dream that turned
mere leaves into a pleasure.

– Samuel Hazo, “When the Evening Gets Down to Cigars”
Occasional verse delivered at a meeting of the Rascals, Rogues, and Rapscallions.

The students in my honors class are finishing their journey together in the class on depictions of smoking. They are turning from historic examples with early modern and Victorian readings to contemporary depictions of pipe smoking communities. At the beginning of the class, I asked them what they imagined when they thought of smoking communities and now we’ve come full circle.

Now their task is to share their insights in a conference paper and then translate that paper into a public-facing project.


Near the end of the course, we watched, Father the Flame, a 2018 documentary that explores the world of high-end pipe craftsmanship with a focus on family relationships and legacy.

Here’s the description from the filmmakers:

Featuring a charming cast of characters—from the royal family of Danish pipe makers, to the Italian briar cutter known as the worldʼs greatest, to a fourth-generation Native American peace pipe maker— this story speaks to a slower pace of life, a luxury in our sped-up world. Beautiful, hypnotic, and contemplative, Father the Flame immerses the viewer in the historical, cultural, and spiritual significance of the tobacco pipe and what it can teach a modern generation about legacy and the things we leave behind.”

And here’s the trailer:

If you would like to learn more about this documentary, check out the following playlist and this review:



Our Last Cigar Together

At the end of every RR&R meeting, after the research lecture, members sing “My Last Cigar.” This felt like a fitting way to end this time with my students, and I would like to share it with you too. Thank you for joining us on this journey as we explored the gesture of smoking!

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