Seminar Listing by Date

Listen to the Birds

Registration for this seminar is now closed.  To join the waiting list, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

Our goal is to see as many birds as we can find—especially the ones participants select—in the most beautiful preserves in the county, and also to discover the value of learning as much as possible from birds that can be watched daily.  The goals of this seminar are to deepen participants’ love and excitement for these amazing creatures and to explore a new way of birding where participants can learn directly from one bird of choice, because that bird can teach you about all birds, really all other creatures, and even yourself.  Participants will learn field identification skills, bird sounds using a variety of sound tools in an evening workshop, techniques for understanding the complex behaviors of birds, and fascinating discoveries that science has made about birds.  The emerging importance of conserving and enhancing bird stopover habitats will be shared.  This course will visit Open Door Bird Sanctuary which has all kinds of birds, especially raptors.  They will feature their recently acquired Merlins. Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite field guides. Participants must be able to walk on unpaved trails for distances of two miles over a period of 2 ½ hours.

Don Quintenz has been teaching environmental education since 1967 and came to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in 1981.  He previously worked with the Milwaukee Public Schools as their environmental specialist for five years, and before that he was with the Wisconsin Humane Society for three years as their environmental educator and the Wisconsin DNR as a resource technician.  He is currently the Senior Ecologist at Audubon.
The skill Quintenz has that he cherishes the most is his ability to excite and fascinate people about the natural world because of his intimate familiarity with the native flora and fauna.

 

Date: 
Sunday, June 11, 2017 to Friday, June 16, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Nature & Earth

The Grand Synthesis

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

 

Date: 
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 to Sunday, June 18, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Film & Theatre

The Plague and Fire of London

Rooms allotted for this seminar have been filled. To join the waiting list, or register as a commuter, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

A study of the twin disasters of the 1665 Great Plague and the 1666 Great Fire of London. The Great Plague, the last significant outbreak of that horrific medieval disease, marked a turning point in the approach to medicine as Europe moved out of the medieval era. This course will examine how London faced these two catastrophes, how they reacted, where they sought to put the blame, and what they did to build a new future for the city and change London from a medieval to a modern city.

Jake Frederick is associate professor of history at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.  He has published articles on native political factionalism and race in colonial Mexico in Ethnohistory, The Americas, and the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. Before becoming a historian, Frederick worked for several years as a forest fire fighter, and in 1998 was sent to Chiapas as part of a U.S. support operation for fires in southern Mexico. His interest in fire and Mexico has remained ever since, and is the focus of his current research, examining fire prevention and protection as a vehicle of state governance.

Required text: "1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire" by Rebecca Rideal.

 

Date: 
Sunday, June 18, 2017 to Friday, June 23, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
History

AND...ACTION! The Making of a TV Show

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

 

 

Date: 
Sunday, June 25, 2017 to Friday, June 30, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Television & Film

Was Nero a Monster? How History Was (and Is) Made

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

Date: 
Sunday, June 25, 2017 to Friday, June 30, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
History

And We Thought We Were Thinking Rationally: Recognizing the Biases that Shape Human Experience

Is love blind?  What would make it so?  Or—how are one’s thought processes affected when “falling in love” with a certain house or new car?  How do people change their coping responses or investing decisions when distressed?  During the past twenty-five years psychologists have developed a deeper understanding of the role of biases (mental shortcuts) in decision-making.  This seminar will serve as an introduction to these discoveries and the insights they provide into the way that we 1) manage our financial investments, 2) think about public policy issues, 3) respond to political messages, 4) make moral decisions, 5) experience our interpersonal relationships, and lots more.  This will not be your psych professor’s psychology!  It will be an interactive seminar, providing participants with opportunities to sharpen their own personal insights and perspectives regarding the multiple issues to be discussed. 

The seminar will use the book THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman as the basis for seminar discussions.  Reading this book prior to the seminar is encouraged as a means of being able to be more conversant in discussions, but is not a requirement.

Here are some words of high praise for the book:

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” is sure to be a major intellectual event. . .I think Kahneman and his research partner, the late Amos Tversky, will be remembered hundreds of years from now, regarding how their work helped instigate a cultural shift that is already producing astounding results.  Many people are exploring the inner wilderness. Kahneman and Tversky are like the Lewis and Clark of the mind. DAVID BROOKS

"Daniel Kahneman is one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time.  There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make. In this absolutely amazing book, he shares a lifetime's worth of wisdom presented in a manner that is simple and engaging, but nonetheless stunningly profound. This book is a must-read for anyone with a curious mind.  STEVEN D. LEVITT, coauthor of "Freakonomics"

A recent biography, THE UNDOING PROJECT, by Michael Lewis recounts the collaboration between Kahneman and Taversky, providing a context for understanding their research and its impact.

Roger Johnson is a retired clinical psychologist who worked for Kaiser Permanente, a large healthcare organization in California, as a consultant, manager and clinician.  He has a PhD from Fuller School of Psychology and an MBA from the University of California at Irvine.  His focus for the past several years has been on designing and leading engaging adult workshops regarding psychological dynamics for professionals in the Silicon Valley.

 

Date: 
Sunday, June 25, 2017 to Friday, June 30, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Psychology

Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp

Enjoy a high-quality, fun, engaging experience for adult jazz musicians and singers of all levels, from beginner to semi-pro. The week’s musical activities include playing and performance opportunities in combos and large ensembles, jazz master classes, jazz improvisation/theory classes, special-topics sessions, individual lessons, open jam sessions and performances with professional jazz artists. Summer 2017 will be Tritone’s 19th consecutive year at Björklunden.

Tritone was co-founded by the late Fred Sturm ’73, Kimberly Clark Professor of Music and director of jazz studies at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. It is now run by co-founder Bob DeRosa, a marketing communications consultant and busy part-time bassist in upstate New York. Faculty includes legendary guitarist Gene Bertoncini, recording artist and veteran of the Benny Goodman Orchestra and the NBC Tonight Show Band; trumpeter Terell Stafford of NYC’s Village Vanguard Orchestra and director of jazz studies at Temple University; pianist John Harmon ’57, D.F.A ’05, Lawrence jazz director from 1971 to 1974; drummer Zach Harmon, a busy freelancer and graduate of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute;  vocalist Janet Planet, Lawrence instructor of music and renowned Wisconsin jazz/pop vocal soloist; saxophonist Tom Washatka, a busy sideman, producer, and recording engineer; bassist Ike Sturm, music director for the jazz ministry at Manhattan's Saint Peter’s Church (the “Jazz Church”) and a busy freelance bassist in NYC; jazz and classical vocalist Misty Sturm; trombonist Dean Sorenson, director of jazz at the University of Minnesota; and pianist/composer/arranger Rod Blumenau, freelance jazz artist in upstate New York.

To register, contact Bob DeRosa | PO Box 297, Penfield NY, 14526 | 585-377-2222 | bob@tritonejazz.com

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 9, 2017 to Saturday, July 15, 2017
Fee(s): 
$1,195 tuition and meals; $875 tuition only
Topic(s): 
Music

Acoustic Vocal Pedagogy

Rooms allotted for this seminar have been filled. To join the waiting list, or register as a commuter, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

For more information, including pricing, please click here.

 

This special Bjorklunden seminar is intended for:

Voice teachers of high school, college, or adult students, and college voice majors. Voice students, who are graduate performance or vocal pedagogy majors.  Choral conductors who incorporate vocal training in their rehearsals. Voice therapists, specializing in the rehabilitation of singers.s food, peaceful walks in the woods, and camaraderie, along with piano talk!  A percentage of available slots will be reserved for Lawrence University alumni until January 30, 2016 - at which point they will be released to the general public.  Both alumni and others should apply early to be sure of inclusion!

This seminar provides an opportunity for participants to spend five days attending engaging and thought-provoking presentations and master classes in application, while giving you ample remaining time to process course content, engage in discussion, and/or lessons with the course instructors, Kenneth Bozeman, professor of music at Lawrence University and Ian Howell, head of vocal pedagogy at New England Conservatory.

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 16, 2017 to Friday, July 21, 2017
Fee(s): 
Varied
Topic(s): 
Music

Witnessing the Occupation over Six Decades of French Film

Rooms allotted for this seminar have been filled. To join the waiting list, or register as a commuter, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

French cinema has left an intriguing record of responses to the German occupation of France (1940-1944). Films produced during the occupation years were low-budget affairs, hamstrung by censorship, avoidant (by law) of any representation of contemporary events, and yet eerily allusive of their time. Films produced in later years began to examine more explicitly and more critically those events and the people caught up in them. Primarily through a selection of films spanning the 60 years since the occupation, we will explore how the French have chosen to remember and to understand this difficult moment in their national history.

Eilene Hoft-March is Professor of French, Milwaukee-Downer and College Endowment Association Professor of Liberal Studies, and Special Assistant to the President. She holds the B.A. in English and French from Carroll College, and the M.A. and Ph.D. in French from the University of California, Berkeley. She contributes to Freshman Studies, Gender Studies, and, soon, Global Studies. Her published research has grown out of an interest in late 20th- and early 21st-century European philosophy and French autobiography. And her favorite co-teacher on the planet is her dear friend, Judy Sarnecki.

Judy Holland Sarnecki, Professor emerita of French at Lawrence University who misses teaching French, Gender Studies and Film Studies to LU students. However, she freely admits she also enjoys the reading, travel and singing with newVoices choir made possible by her official retirement in 2010.  She did return to teach one course a year with some of her favorite colleagues for another five years. In summer of 2017 she will be back co-teaching with her best friend, Eilene Hoft-March, in order to experience the joy that their partnership in the classroom inevitably brings.

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 16, 2017 to Friday, July 21, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
History

Eleanor Roosevelt: An American Life

Registration for this seminar is now closed.  To join the waiting list, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most extraordinary individuals in American history. She was the longest serving First Lady of the United States, but was far better known as an activist and diplomat. Born into the wealthy Oyster Bay Roosevelt Family, Eleanor’s early life was very difficult as she lost both her parents and one brother at a young age. Raised by her grandmother, Eleanor attended Allenwood Academy in London and studied under Maria Souvestre. She returned to New York in 1902, and became a social worker in the East Side slums. In 1905, she married her fifth cousin Franklin Roosevelt, and the relationship transitioned into one of the greatest partnerships in all of American history. As First Lady, Eleanor became a moral compass for the nation, and a pioneer advocate of civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights. Her weekly column “My Day” lifted many Americans during the Great Depression, World War II, and beyond. Eleanor Roosevelt’s passionate activism and humanitarianism gained her universal respect, and she is consistently ranked in Gallup’s top ten of the Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century.

Tim Crain is the director of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education and an assistant professor of history at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. He received a Ph.D. in modern Europe and modern Jewish history at Arizona State University after receiving a B.A. and M.A. from Marquette University. His areas of specialization include modern Jewish history, comparative religious history, modern Europe, and the modern Middle East. Crain taught history for 15 years at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has received numerous distinguished teaching awards from the University of Wisconsin System and Marquette University. He has instructed over twenty seminars at Bjorklunden, and Tim and his family always look forward to their time there each summer.

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 16, 2017 to Friday, July 21, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
History

I Hear America Singing

Vocal music in America has a history and diversity of style which incorporates an international heritage, yet is distinctive from other musical cultures.  This course will look at what makes our music uniquely American, through opera, art song, orchestral song, choral music, and Broadway musical. Using videos, recordings, and live performances, we will examine both the familiar and the less well-known: from Romantics like Edward McDowell, past 20th century composers including Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber, to contemporaries such as Ned Rorem and John Adams.  And, of course, there will also be a focus on great American singers.  Without doubt, as in past years, there are sure to be musical surprises throughout the week!

Dale Duesing ’67 received the Grammy in 1993 for his recording of Samuel Barber’s The Lovers with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was designated Singer of the Year by Opernwelt magazine in 1994, and has been described by Le Monde de la Musique magazine as a singer who transformed opera, turning it “upside down” with his performances of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. In addition to his singing, Duesing has been described as “one of the greatest actors on the opera scene” by Die Welt. In the past several years, Duesing has expanded his work to include stage direction.  He was nominated in Opernwelt as Director of the Year for his direction of Il Viaggio a Rheims by Rossini at The Frankfurt Opera (Germany).  Duesing was honored twice among the “Ten Best Productions/Performances in Europe”, once for his work as director for The St. John Passion by J.S. Bach, and once for his performance in the title role of Sweeney Todd in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the Nationale Reisoper Nederland (The Netherlands).

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 23, 2017 to Friday, July 28, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Music

Trump's America

Registration for this seminar is now closed. To join the waiting list, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

How did we get here? What kind of president is Donald Trump becoming in his first year in office? And what does the epochal 2016 election that brought him to power tell us about our country? From Twitter taunts to Russian hackers and beyond, this seminar will explore the tumult of our politics in the Trump era.

Terry Moran ’82 is ABC News’ chief foreign correspondent and an anchor for the network. He is based in London and has led the program’s distinguished coverage of the major news stories in the last several years. Before relocating overseas, Moran was an anchor for Nightline, World News, and other ABC News broadcasts. Moran is also a print journalist who has written for many publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Republic Magazine – where he began his career in journalism.

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 30, 2017 to Friday, August 4, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Law & Politics

Lincoln and His Contemporaries: Campaign Losses, Campaign Victories

Rooms allotted for this seminar have been filled. To join the waiting list, or register as a commuter, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

A successful politician’s career has many an up and many a down, and Abraham Lincoln was no exception.  A run-through of his losses and wins in the 1830s, 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s – plus a look at some other key campaigns for context, in an era when one political party was collapsing and a new one was being born – will focus a spotlight on campaign tactics and rhetoric that earlier Bjorklunden classes on the Lincoln era have not tried.  No previous reading on Lincoln or the period is required, though veteran students will find many old and new ideas brought up, too.  One morning of this course will be co-taught with Terry Moran.

James Cornelius ‘81, a native of Minneapolis, is a graduate of Lawrence University and the University of Illinois (Ph.D. 2001).  For 11 years he worked in New York City for various book publishers, then for 8 years in the U. of I. Library’s collections of Lincoln and Illinois history.  He and Anne Smith (LU '81) married in 1992.  In 2007 he became Curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in Springfield, Illinois, the nation’s most-visited presidential museum and home to huge numbers of Lincoln manuscripts, family possessions, published works, and fine or popular art.  He has published on architecture, baseball, literature, but mostly British and American history.  Most recently he co-authored Under Lincoln’s Hat: 100 Objects that Tell the Story of His Life and Legacy; edited and co-authored the museum's 48-page Official Commemorative Guide; and introduced Gettysburg Replies, a showcase of original short essays by 100 famous people, including all 5 living presidents, about Lincoln or a related current topic. This will be his 3rd Bjorklunden seminar.

Suggested Readings:Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald. "Lincoln in the Atlantic World" by Louise L. Stevenson. "Lincoln Runs for Congress" by Donald Wayne Riddle.

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 30, 2017 to Friday, August 4, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Politics & History

Art and Nature in Medieval and Renaissance Art

Rooms allotted for this seminar have been filled. To join the waiting list, or register as a commuter, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu 

 

Inspired by the rich natural setting of Björklunden, this course will look at how Medieval and Renaissance artists explored the natural world through their art. We will consider the idea of the natural world as a product of divine creation and see how medieval artists represented nature as shot through with spiritual meaning. We will also trace the development of greater naturalism in later Medieval and Renaissance art, presaging the habits of careful observation that serve as the foundation for the scientific revolution. Medieval and Renaissance art not only depicts the natural world, but also is literally made from it, using materials harvested from nature; we will discuss how the material origins of artworks also shaped their meanings.

Ben Tilghman ‘99 specializes in Medieval and Renaissance Art, particularly illuminated manuscripts and art from the early medieval British Isles. A graduate of Lawrence University, Tilghman earned his master’s degree from Williams College and his PhD from Johns Hopkins University. He has published essays on the Book of Kells, Anglo-Saxon riddles and art, miniature drawings in a Renaissance prayerbook, and the 21st century manuscript known as the Saint John’s Bible. As a curatorial fellow at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, he organized exhibitions on medieval manuscripts, miniaturization in art, and images from the Hubble Space Telescope. He joined the Lawrence Faculty in 2012.

Ryan Gregg is assistant professor of art history at Webster University in St. Louis, where he teaches Renaissance and Baroque art.  His specialization lies in views of cities and Italian art of the mid-16th century.  He has written and spoken on a variety of topics in these areas, including city view techniques among Flemish artists, the decoration of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, Renaissance sculpture’s Baroque reception and prints of the 16th and 17th centuries.  He is the recipient of numerous research fellowships and regularly leads students on study trips to Florence.

 

Date: 
Sunday, July 30, 2017 to Friday, August 4, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Art & Art History

Stalin and the Devil: History and Religion in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita 

Imagine the Biblical story of the Passion, narrated by the Devil himself, to an audience of small-minded and terrified atheists on a hot summer evening during Stalin’s bloody purges. That is just the beginning of one of Russia’s favorite novels, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.  This seminar will examine the Stalin’s Moscow through the lens of that raucous and contradictory book.  We will look closely at the political and cultural history of 1930s Moscow, and at the rich tradition of Russian Orthodoxy woven into Bulgakov’s tale.

Peter Thomas has been teaching Russian language and culture in the Russian Department at Lawrence University since 2006.  Before coming to Lawrence, he taught courses in comparative literature, and in Russian language, culture, and film, at Northwestern University, Beloit College, and St. Olaf College.  Since arriving at Lawrence, Thomas has received the Young Teacher Award (2013) and the Freshman Studies Teaching Award (2015).  This is his seventh summer seminar at Bjorklunden.

Required text:The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov. Translated by Diana Burgin & Katherine Tieman O'Connor.

 

Date: 
Sunday, August 6, 2017 to Friday, August 11, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Literature

The World of Anglo-Saxon England (500-1066)

Registration for this seminar is now closed.  To join the waiting list, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

This course will explore the fascinating history and culture of Anglo-Saxon England through a study of its historical documents, literature, art history, and archaeology. Some of the topics that we will discuss include: early missionary activity and Christianization, the Venerable Bede and his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, the role of women, monasticism, St. Cuthbert, Lindisfarne Island and the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Synod of Whitby, St. Hilda of Whitby, the Sutton Hoo ship burial, Staffordshire hoard, Trumpington excavation, Beowulf, King Alfred the Great, and the Viking invasions. It will conclude with a discussion of the events leading up to the Norman Conquest and one of the most famous medieval masterpieces, the Bayeux Tapestry.

Jane Tibbetts Schulenburg ’65 is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received a PhD in medieval history.  She teaches in the Liberal Arts and Applied Studies Department, the Gender and Women’s Studies Department, and the Medieval Studies program.  Her areas of specialization include medieval social and religious history, medieval women’s history, women saints, female monasticism, gender and sacred space, and medieval embroidery.  She is the author of numerous studies on medieval women including her major work, Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500-1100 (University of Chicago Press, 1998, 2000).  She is presently working on a book on gender and sacred space in the Middle Ages.  Schulenburg is the recipient of a number of research fellowships and was recognized with the Lucia Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award, Lawrence University, 2001, the William A. Chaney Lectureship in the Humanities, Lawrence University, 2010, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Van Hise Teaching Award in 2013.  Over the years, she has organized and led thirty-nine University of Wisconsin medieval study tours to Europe.

 

Date: 
Sunday, August 6, 2017 to Friday, August 11, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
History

Jesus, God, and Jazz

A paradigm shift is taking place in traditional Christianity as it seeks to follow the Way of Jesus in a postmodern culture.  Evolution, quantum physics, and religious pluralism challenge Christians to re-think their understanding of God in relationship with the world.  Many seek an experience of God over right beliefs.  Some traditional approaches no longer appear relevant.  Jazz is a metaphor for a creative, open, and relational theological perspective.  It speaks of spontaneity, inter-connection, egalitarian relationships, building on the contributions of others, theme and response, creating in the moment what has never been before.  This seminar will explore a view of theology that sees God and humanity as co-creators, relating in a similar, jazz-like process of creativity and adventure.  We will seek to integrate theology with science, and probe what it means to affirm God as love in a world of great pain and suffering.

The Rev Al Gephart ‘63 is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, USA.  He holds a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminar, and a master’s degree in church and choral music from the University of Southern California, where his project was a performance of Ralph Vaughan William’s Dona Nobis Pacem at the conclusion of the Vietnam War.  He served two congregations in Washington State; Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church and the Redmond Presbyterian Church. For seventeen years, Al was the pastor and head of staff of University Presbyterian Church in Tempe, AZ, retiring as Pastor Emeritus in 2009.  He is chair of the Theological Dialogue Commission of the Arizona Faith Network, and Southwest regional coordinator for the Seminary Support Network of the PCUSA.  He regularly attends the Process and Faith Summer Institute and Whitehead Film Festival in Claremont, CA, studying with noted process theologians, John Cobb and Marjorie Suchocki.  Al is married to Betsy Wells-Gephart, a lactation consultant.  They have two daughters, Eryn Wells and Anna Gephart, and a Golden Retriever named Kellsey.  They live in Tempe, AZ.

Suggested Readings: "The Holy Web: Church and the New Universe Story" by Cletus Wessels. "God, Creation, and Jazz: A Process of Composition and Improvisation" by Ann Pederson. "Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art" by Stephen Nachmanovitch. "Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life" by Wynton Marsalis. "Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution" by Diana Butler Bass. "The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe" by Stephon Alexander.

 

Date: 
Sunday, August 6, 2017 to Friday, August 11, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Philosophy & Theology

Watercolor: The Expressive Medium

Registration for this seminar is now closed. To join the waiting list, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

This seminar is for novice through experienced artists. Drawing skills are useful but not required. Participants will be a part of a creative community that invites them to experiment with a wide-range of traditional and non-traditional watercolor techniques and learn to create strong individualized artistic statements. Participants from previous summers are welcome to repeat this class and are welcome to focus on independent projects or work with the instructor to figure out next steps. A list of suggested materials to bring to this seminar will be sent to participants at a later date.

Helen Klebesadel was a member of the Lawrence University faculty from 1990 to 2000 teaching studio art and gender studies. She has offered her summer Björklunden watercolor seminars annually since 1996.  Known as an engaging teacher and effective creative coach, she has been invited to teach watercolor and creativity workshops from Texas to Alaska. Klebesadel is best known for her highly detailed narrative watercolor paintings and exhibits her paintings nationally and internationally while maintaining her art studio in Madison, WI.  She also holds a position as the director of the University of Wisconsin Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Committed to community engagement, Klebesadel served on the Wisconsin Arts Board from 2006-2013, and she is a past national president of the national Women’s Caucus for Art.  Learn more about her artwork, her collaborative activist art projects, and her exhibition schedule at www.klebesadel.com.

Class maximum: 17

Suggested Materials:

  • One set tube watercolors - an ideal range of colors would include:
    • permanent or alizarin red
    • cadmium red
    • ultramarine blue
    • cerulean blue
    • new gambage yellow
    • lemon yellow
    • violet or mauve
    • For this workshop student grade watercolors are fine.  Good brands of paint are Winsor Newton (Cotman), Grumbacher, Daniel Smith, Holman, Liquitex, M. Graham, Holbine, and many others. 
  • A range of at least four brushes:
    • ROUNDS #10 or 8 for large areas, #5 or 6 for basic work,#1 or 2 for details,
    • FLATS #2 or 1-inch flat for washes
    • Any size fan brush (optional)
  • 5-8 sheets good watercolor paper (preferably bring some full sheets of some good paper like Arches 140 lb 22 x 30 inch paper, but a good 20 x 28 watercolor pad can work.  Cold press or hot press paper will work.  Bring some of each.)
  • Two water containers (quart containers)
  • A white plate, enamel butchers tray, or watercolor palette
  • 3-6 small ½ to 1-cup sized cups/bowls or baby food jars
  • A roll of masking tape
  • Liquid mask (Winsor Newton, Frisket, Misket)
  • Metal nib and ink pen holder

Optional Materials:

  • A small plastic spray bottle with adjustable nozzle
  • A 4x6” absorbent sponge + a smaller one
  • Paper Towels
  • Sketchbook and Pencils, B & softer or a #2
  • An eraser, Art Gum or Kneaded
  • A rubber cement pick up (found at office supply stores
  • Any additional supplies you enjoy working with.

You can get almost everything via one of these two online art stores, much of it at discount:
www.dickblick.com
www.jerrysartarama.com

Helen Klebesadel will bring a lot of supplies too so you can try things out and see if you like them before investing in them.  The most important purchases are your paint, brushes and paper.  Good quality supplies are expensive initially as you get set up, but if you purchase good enough quality materials you will have much greater expense in your experimentation with watercolor. Please do not hesitate to check in with Helen if you have questions about what to purchase. Helen’s email is klebesadel@tds.net.

Date: 
Sunday, August 13, 2017 to Saturday, August 19, 2017
Fee(s): 
$945 double; $1,265 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Art & Art History

Photography: Discovering Your Personal Vision

This seminar is about exploring the art of photography and using the camera to find your individual expression.  Although the use of adjustable digital cameras will be discussed, the emphasis will be on image making and creativity.  We will look at contemporary fine art photographers for inspiration.  Daily assignments and field trips will be given to stimulate your imagination.  There will be an optional evening Door County photo shoot, to discover the magic of night photography.  In the late afternoons and evenings, instruction will be given to those interested in using Photoshop to edit and enhance your images.  Participants will use a pigmented ink jet printer to make professional enlargements of their work.  This class is designed for both the beginner as well as those who have a more advanced understanding of their camera and Photoshop.

Philip Krejcarek is a Professor of Art at Carroll University where he has taught the past 39 years.  He has also taught photography classes at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.  He is delighted to be returning for his fourteenth photography seminar at Björklunden.  He is the author of the book, An Introduction to Digital Imaging.  His work has been displayed in national exhibitions and has been included in collections at the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Denver Art Museum, Wustum Museum of Fine Arts and the Haggerty Museum of Art.

 

Date: 
Sunday, August 13, 2017 to Saturday, August 19, 2017
Fee(s): 
$945 double; $1,265 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Art & Art History

The Ten Commandments

 

The decades-long controversy involving Alabama Judge Roy Moore and the courtroom display of the Ten Commandments drew national attention from the media and sparked renewed interest in issues of church and state and in the commandments themselves.  In this seminar, discussions will focus on the two versions of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, their literary setting in the Old Testament and historical significance in ancient Israel, the relationship of these commandments to the U.S. Constitution and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations, and some ways these commandments are being adapted and applied to contemporary situations.

Bill Urbrock (Ph.D., Harvard) is honorary Rosebush Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies and Ancient Near Eastern Religions at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.  Long active in the Society of Biblical Literature, he has published articles in scholarly journals and conducted many courses, seminars, and lecture series for a variety of civic and educational groups, including Björklunden.

Optional text: "The Ten Commandments and Human Rights" by Walter Harrelson.

 

Date: 
Sunday, August 13, 2017 to Saturday, August 19, 2017
Fee(s): 
$945 double; $1,265 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Philosophy & Theology

Classic Films, Classic Performances

Rooms allotted for this seminar have been filled.  For more information, or to register as a commuter, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

The seminar will focus on iconic performances within several great films of the classic era, with some comparative attention to the more modern age of film acting.   The class will spotlight actresses and actors in both leading and supporting roles in memorable and enduring movies. Participants will examine the screenwriting, directing, musical scoring, editing, cinematography, and other production components which contributed to the artistic efforts of the legendary performers who made major film roles noteworthy. The course will include examples from a variety of film genres to help seminar participants come to a better appreciation of the strength and effectiveness of performances that received critical attention in their day and that continue to resonate with contemporary audiences.

Jack Rhodes received his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Texas at Austin and later became interested in communication and film studies.  His principal academic assignments were at Colorado College, the University of Utah, and Miami University (Ohio), where he taught the graduate course on Rhetoric of Film for several years.  Rhodes also served as chair of the Department of Communication at Miami and retired as executive director of Miami's regional campus in Hamilton, Ohio.  He is the author of three books and several scholarly articles and has recently concentrated his research and lecturing on the rhetoric of film genres.  This will be his ninth year teaching Björklunden seminars.

 

Date: 
Sunday, August 27, 2017 to Friday, September 1, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415commuter
Topic(s): 
Film & Theatre

The Two Hundred Most Important Years in Western Thought!

Rooms allotted for this seminar have been filled.  For more information, or to register as a commuter, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

It can be argued that the most important era in Western philosophical thought was the period from 1600-1800.  During the 17th & 18th centuries three great systems came to fruition, Rationalism, Empiricism, and Transcendental Idealism.  Rationalism is the theory that all knowledge comes from reason…and reason alone.  Empiricism is the theory that all knowledge comes from experience…and experience alone. These two theories cannot both be true.  Thus, the rise of Transcendental Idealism, the attempt to reconcile and synthesize the two, arguing that while all knowledge might begin with experience, not all knowledge arises from experience.  This seminar will concentrate on the most important philosophical figures representing these three theories: Descartes, Hume and Kant.  We will also consider other great thinkers of the era, including Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, and Berkeley.   No prior background in philosophy is required.  Join us for a fun filled week exploring the important concepts of 17th & 18th Western philosophical thought!

Terry M. Goode received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Wayne State University.  He has taught philosophy at the University of South Carolina, UW-Fox Valley, and UW-Oshkosh.  He regularly teaches classes for the Clearing winter program, and for the Bjorklunden summer program.  Prior to his retirement in 2007 Terry owned two technology companies, was a senior technology officer, and served as a consultant to a number of firms in the Fox River Valley.

 

Date: 
Sunday, August 27, 2017 to Friday, September 1, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Philosophy & Theology

 

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

Date: 
Sunday, August 27, 2017 to Friday, September 1, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Music

Carried Away: How to Make Your Next Poem Take Flight

Registration for this seminar is now closed.  To join the waiting list, please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 or bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu

 

If you’re a poet, you already know that an outstanding poem is one that virtually “takes the top of your head off,“ as Emily Dickinson once so memorably put it.  They’re the poems that have managed to morph into something considerably more than the sum of their parts.  How?  By merging three essential elements: (1) a convincing voice, (2) an identifiable mood and (3) a clear point of view. With these three elements in mind, participants will try out some concrete, workable ways of achieving extraordinary results.  To be more specific, much of our time will be spent discussing and experimenting with the most evocative language and the poem-specific imagery that best serves a particular poem’s purpose.  Participants will also read a selection of works by well-known poets (including Dickinson), to see if filching some of their creative strategies can help us further expand our own.  Participants will be urged to try out some strategies they might never have incorporated into their work before.  By the end of the week, participants are very likely to have internalized some brand new skills for writing your best poems ever.

Marilyn Taylor is the former Poet Laureate of the state of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee, and the author of six poetry collections, the newest of which, Step on a Crack, was published in 2016. Her poems and essays have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry, Measure, Able Muse, American Scholar, and the Random House anthology titled Villanelles.  She has been awarded First Place in a number of national and international poetry contests, most recently the 2015 Margaret Reid Award for verse in forms. Taylor currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and regularly offers independent poetry workshops and presentations statewide and elsewhere—including programs sponsored by Western State Colorado University, Poetry by the Sea in Connecticut, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies.  This is her thirteenth consecutive year facilitating poetry seminars at Bjorklunden.

 

Date: 
Sunday, September 10, 2017 to Friday, September 15, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Poetry & Writing

Wildflower Walks and Fungus Forays

This seminar’s goal is to find as many beautiful wildflowers and fungi as possible by visiting the most pristine preserves and diverse habitats.  Participants will learn the names of common fungi and the essential role they play in the web of life.  Participants will also become proficient in identifying wildflowers, and what the different field guides offer in terms of doing this.  This seminar will also discuss the origin and evolution of flowering plants including what they are evolving towards.  As always, this course will take advantage of any birds or other animals encountered in explorations of the natural areas in the county. Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite field guides.

Don Quintenz has been teaching environmental education since 1967 and came to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in 1981.  He previously worked with the Milwaukee Public Schools as their environmental specialist for five years, and before that he was with the Wisconsin Humane Society for three years as their environmental educator and the Wisconsin DNR as a resource technician.  He is currently the Senior Ecologist at Audubon. The skill Quintenz has that he cherishes the most is his ability to excite and fascinate people about the natural world because of his intimate familiarity with the native flora and fauna.

Charlotte Lukes has been studying Door County’s wild mushrooms since 1972 and has compiled a list of 570 species she has seen and identified. The Ridges Sanctuary was where she began her workshops and mushroom forays when her husband, Roy, was manager and chief

Date: 
Sunday, September 10, 2017 to Friday, September 15, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Nature & Earth

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

Date: 
Sunday, September 10, 2017 to Friday, September 15, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Nature & Earth

Reading—and Writing—About Three Key Themes in Literature

Struggle and hope. Myth and Mystery. Life and death. In literature, just as in life, these subjects appear and assert themselves continually—no doubt because they reside at the core of our common humanity. By honing in and guiding participants in the exploration of these three rich, timeless and universal themes, Paul McComas both (1) helps readers gain additional insights into whatever books they'll choose to read throughout the rest of their lives, and (2) aids and encourages writers (of fiction, memoir, personal essay, and poetry alike) in the development of their own techniques for bringing the human condition to light, and to life, on the written page. The class will study and discuss excerpts from the works of, among others, these authors: William Shakespeare, Alice Sebold, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, P.D. James, Tony Earley, Carson McCulers, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Joseph Iron-Eye Dudley, and Adalbert Stifter. Also included: the occasional song that addresses the theme at hand—song lyrics being, after all, a type of poetry -- and, each evening, in the an (optional) screening and discussions of feature-films that embody the various themes.  This seminar is open both to readers and to working/aspiring writers.

Paul McComas ’83 is the author of six critically acclaimed books: the novels Planet of the Dates and Unplugged; the short story collections Unforgettable: Harrowing Futures, Horrors, and (Dark) Humor and Twenty Questions: Short and Very Short Stories; the novella Fit for a Frankenstein; and the playlets collection Uncanny Encounters -- LIVE which premiered on stage in Milwaukee last Halloween weekend. He is also the editor of the well-reviewed fiction anthologies First Person Imperfect and Further Persons Imperfect.  He has taught writing, literature, and film/media at every level up through Master's programs, and at academic sites including Northwestern and National-Louis Universities (both of which honored him with teaching awards), the University of Chicago, and Tribeca Flashpoint Academy of Media Arts. Paul serves on both the National Leadership Council and the Speakers Bureau of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, and he is active in Patrick J. Kennedy's The Kennedy Forum and One Mind for Mental Health; Rape Victim Advocates; The Awkenings Foundation (helping rape survivors heal through the arts); and the Awakenings Project (mental health advocacy). Paul has received recognition awards from the Mental Health Association, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin State Senate. To learn more about Paul's work, visit www.paulmccomas.com.

Required Reading: "The Blue Star" by Tony Earley.

Optional Reading: "Jim the Boy" by Tony Earley.

Date: 
Sunday, September 17, 2017 to Friday, September 22, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Poetry & Writing; Literature

New Challenges in American Foreign Policy: Russia, Migration, and Jobs

Globalization presents the United States with a new and dynamic agenda.  Even a few years ago, we did not foresee an aggressive Russia that would invade Ukraine and bring devastation to Syria.  Nor did we foresee how failing states and home-grown violence would prompt the migration of millions of people.  And despite an ever more integrated world economy, threats to jobs in the U.S. and in Europe are pushing our political systems to look inward rather than outward.  Who is winning the game of globalization? Ambassador (ret.) Christopher Murray, '75 will explore how all these forces have emerged, and what they mean for our future.

Christopher Murray ‘75 recently concluded a 40-year career in the United States Foreign Service. His assignments included service as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, as Political Advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO Forces in Europe, and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels.  He was also posted in Lebanon, Algeria, Syria, Tunisia, Jamaica, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  His assignments at the State Department in Washington DC dealt with UN political affairs, the Horn of Africa, and NATO.  Ambassador Murray graduated from Lawrence in 1975.  He received a J.D. From Cornell Law School.

 

Date: 
Sunday, September 17, 2017 to Friday, September 22, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Law & Politics

 

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

Date: 
Sunday, September 17, 2017 to Friday, September 22, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Law & Politics

Revisiting the Classic Mystery Films

Perhaps no other film genre has been more consistently popular with audiences than the classic mystery, with its talented detectives, curious clues, and logical (though often surprising) solutions.  This seminar will examine some of the finest specimens of the movie mystery, with attention to the literary sources behind the film, the impact of the film on subsequent efforts within the genre, the techniques of the master detective, the creation of an appropriate atmosphere for the development of the plot, and the filmmaker's techniques for revealing the identity of the villain. Participants should come to a better understanding of the ways in which great examples of this important genre have transcended the ages with both the public and the film critics alike.

Jack Rhodes received his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Texas at Austin and later became interested in communication and film studies.  His principal academic assignments were at Colorado College, the University of Utah, and Miami University (Ohio), where he taught the graduate course on Rhetoric of Film for several years.  Rhodes also served as chair of the Department of Communication at Miami and retired as executive director of Miami's regional campus in Hamilton, Ohio.  He is the author of three books and several scholarly articles and has recently concentrated his research and lecturing on the rhetoric of film genres.  This will be his ninth year teaching Björklunden seminars.

 

Date: 
Sunday, September 24, 2017 to Friday, September 29, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Film & Theatre

Voyage of the Sea Dragon—Revisiting Richard Halliburton: High Cost of Daring, Cults of Youth, and the Art of Travel Writing

In March, 1939, famed travel writer Richard Halliburton (1900-1939) attempted to sail a junk named the Sea Dragon from Hong Kong to the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.  Three weeks out into the open sea, the ship with its crew headed into a typhoon and was never seen again.  Once a synonym for romantic adventure, Halliburton is best-known today for his 50-mile swim of the Panama Canal (paying the lowest toll in its history – 36 cents) and for his two Books of Marvels which introduced generations of young adults to history, literature and geography.   His best-selling The Royal Road to Romance was read as eagerly by collegians as were read J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road a generation later.  The seminar provides scenarios of what happened to the Sea Dragon and views its context as a sideshow in the Sino-Japanese war and the expansion of American influence in Asia.   Besides consider Halliburton’s career, explored   is his true mission in China, and his final role as a war correspondent.  Also explored is the seaworthiness of the Sea Dragon on the high seas:  Could it have made it across Lake Michigan, let alone the Pacific Ocean?   Another topic is travel narrative:  How does one produce engaging and lively accounts of a personal journey or trip?  Yet another topic is aging—and how Halliburton, who died at 39, might have adjusted his “seize the day” philosophy to address Americans who, no longer  young adults, still saw themselves as vital, physically and cerebrally fit, eager for knowledge, and willing to explore new opportunities at home or abroad.

Gerry Max ’67, author of Horizon Chasers—The Lives and Adventures of Richard Halliburton and Paul Mooney, has published articles on a variety of humanities-related topics including “From Thin Air” (for Lawrence Today on Lawrence English professor Warren Beck) and “The Royal Road to Romance in the USA:  Thomas Wolfe, Richard Halliburton, Eco-Tourism and Eco-Poetry” (for the Thomas Wolfe Review).  Max earned his B.A. in History from Lawrence University, and, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.A. in Classics, Ph. D. in Ancient History and M.L.S. in Library Science.  He is the recipient of a number of research grants including the William Wisdom Grant-in-Aid of Research for Study at Harvard University.   He taught expository writing for many years through the Continuing Education Department of the University of Wisconsin.  An instructor at both Lakeland College and Viterbo University, he has taught World History, Art History, Ethics, Environmental Spiritualism, and Death and Dying. Besides publish articles and deliver talks on Halliburton, he has written a play about the travel writer entitled Uncommon Courtesy.  Recently he completed The Voyage of the Sea Dragon, an extended essay on Halliburton’s last days in China; the book is subtitled You Never Die in Your Dreams. He collects and appraises rare books.   His wife Carole and he live in Madison, Wisconsin.

Required Reading:  "The Royal Road to Romance" by Richard Halliburton

Optional Reading: "Horizon Chasers" by Gerry Max.

Date: 
Sunday, September 24, 2017 to Friday, September 29, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Literature

And Then There Were None

This seminar will explore Agatha Christie’s most-published novel from three angles. First, will be the book itself – its plot and structure, place in Agatha Christie's career, and critical opinion. Next, discussion will turn to the book's evolution and adaptation – its changes of title and its adaptation by Christie and others to the stage, the silver screen and other media (such as the video game). Participants will watch at least one movie version of Christie’s book and try our hand at voice-acting a scene from the play or book. Third, we will turn to the book’s implicit moral questions – the moral culpability of each character and the justification (or lack thereof) for their “sentence”. We will draw on crimes from Christie’s other mysteries (such as Mousetrap) and some real-life crimes for comparisons. We will also consider the role of morality in popular literature in general.

As a teenager Roy Underhill ‘81 stumbled upon Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and was fascinated, going on to read many of her mysteries. He graduated from Lawrence University with degrees in philosophy and piano performance and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1984. After six years of varied law practice, he spent twenty years as a stay-at-home homeschooling dad. When that job got outsourced to colleges, he found himself cast in a community theater production of And Then There Were None, which simultaneously awakened a long-dormant love of theater and reawakened his fascination with Agatha Christie.

Required Reading: "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie

 

July 11, 2017

Dear Fellow Agatha Christie Enthusiasts,

The most enjoyable part so far of preparing for our fall seminar has been reading more novels and stories by the prolific Agatha Christie.  Each new story or novel – in addition to being an enjoyable read in its own right – raises interesting questions concerning her craft, the genre, human nature or presents an interesting comparison or parallel to our main text, And Then There Were None (hereafter “ATTWN”).   Every book I have read so far would be an enjoyable and enlightening addition to our discussions.

Unfortunately, we all have other things to attend to besides reading Agatha Christie novels between now and September.  Also, I want our focus to remain on the main text, so we simply won’t have time to include more than a few other writings in our discussions.  So, as a compromise, I have made a short list of additional books and invite you to add them to your summer reading list so that we can all refer to them to enrich our discussions.  This additional reading is, of course, optional – with the understanding that not reading it ahead of time may mean our discussions will function as a plot spoiler for you.  If you have any other suggestions as to books or stories we could include, please send them to me at roy271828@gmail.com.  

Murder on the Orient Express (1934) – we can’t honorably discuss Agatha Christie without at least one Hercule Poirot novel, and in plot terms this one is a sort of mirror image of our main text.

A Murder is Announced (1950) – the same goes for Miss Marple.  Besides, it was Christie’s fiftieth title, a suitably arbitrary reason for including it.

Towards Zero (1944) – this novel shares some structural similarities with ATTWN which I leave for our discussion and explores the mysteries of personal relationships as much as the murder itself. 

Five Little Pigs (1942) –  Here I quote someone else’s opinion: “This sublime novel is a subtle and ingenious detective story, an elegiac love story and a masterful example of storytelling technique, with five separate accounts of one devastating event. Christie's greatest achievement.”

Witness for the Prosecution (1925) – perhaps the best known of her short stories, rewritten (with significant changes) into a play by Christie in 1953.

Wireless (1933) – lesser known, perhaps, but classic Christie in its twist at the end.

Each of these novels and short stories, with the exception of Wireless, has been recast into some other adaptation, some less accessible than others.  Since one of our discussions will be on the adaptation of ATTWN into a play and various movie versions, you may find it interesting to read or view an adaptation first, before you read the original.  I think the experience of an adaptation can be significantly different depending on whether one has already read the original.  Perhaps the most interesting adaptations would be Go Back For Murder, which is Christie’s own adaptation of Five Little Pigs as a play (without Poirot as a character), Christie’s play adaption of Witness for the Prosecution (with a significant change in the ending), and the 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express, considered by some to be the best film adaptation of any of Christie’s novels. 

Also, as another kind of adaptation, you might try listening to an audiobook version of any of these novels or stories.  The narrations are excellent and, although the text is the same as the novel, I find listening quite a different experience than reading.

I trust you will not find these additional readings burdensome, but if you already had other plans for the remainder of your summer, feel free to skip any or all.

Happy sleuthing!

Roy Underhill

Date: 
Sunday, September 24, 2017 to Friday, September 29, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Literature

Dante's Inferno

The poem is a spiritual epic of the soul’s journey toward God but is also the swan song of mediaeval history, religion, and literature; the poetry is symbolic and full of breathtaking images both ethereal and horrific; and the poet and his classical guide through the nine circles of Hell are two of the world’s most gifted and most lauded poets of all time.  Dante Alighieri’s Commedia was so well received that the adjective Divina was added to its title during the Renaissance.  The Divine Comedy is tripartite:  Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.  So Heaven awaits.  Meanwhile, as we follow Dante and Vergil, we will meet familiar mythic characters, well known historical figures, and even some of Dante’s deceased contemporaries, all of whom were sinners and who now are suffering punishments in the afterworld consonant with their sins in this world, e.g., murder, adultery, usury, and so forth.  The wages of sin have never been so dramatically and exquisitely expressed.  The Hollanders’ erudite translation—he’s the scholar, she’s the poet—is superb, eminently readable, and destined to endure; their notes are always on target and uniformly helpful; and we can even check the original Italian if we so desire.  Reading and discussing Dante’s Inferno will surely be an enjoyable and enlightening experience that will resonate with each of us for a long time.

Daniel Taylor ‘63 is the Hiram A. Jones Professor and Chair Emeritus of Classics at Lawrence University. He is the author of three books and dozens of articles.  He was named Lawrence’s Outstanding Teacher in 1998, Wisconsin’s Distinguished Foreign Language Educator in 1990, and was nationally acclaimed for Excellence in Teaching the Classics in 1983.  He is a two-time yearlong National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Italy. Now retired, he and his wife Donna live in Summit County, CO, and have organized and led four Björklunden Seminars Abroad to Greece and Italy. “Dr. Dan” revels in the Björklunden experience and is looking forward to his 28th Björklunden seminar.

Required Reading: "Inferno" by Dante Alighieri, translated by Robert and Jean Hollander. 

 

Ciao!

First of all, if you are reading this, you are either interested in or have already signed up for our 2017 Bjorklunden Seminar on Dante’s Inferno.  I am happy to welcome you on our journey to and from Hell.  In the days and weeks and months ahead I will be posting “blogs” just below our course description and my PR bio on the Bjorklunden web site.  So I invite you to check in regularly to see if there’s something new for you to read.  I also invite you to ask questions of me or of our group or to point out something that just blows your mind.  Whatever.  Odds are that we’ll have a few more fellow “infernals” join us before the seminar gets started.
Today I’d like to address our actual reading of the text and to suggest a few tips on how to make that process more enjoyable and less arduous than it might seem at first.  After all, La Divina Commedia is one of the three or four greatest works of literature in history.  Our translation of the Inferno is accurate and elegant, but so is Longfellow’s.  The latter lacks notes, however, and that just won’t do.  There’s a prose translation out and about also, but it’s not elegant and also lacks notes.  The notes, as I shall explain later, can seem burdensome, but I will try to convince you otherwise.  Let’s get started.
Hollander’s introduction is a bit stuffy, but it’s a genuine attempt to introduce us to a specific work of serious literature.  He makes a big deal out of symbols, and symbolism or allegory has been the downfall of many a would-be reader of highly artistic poetry such as Vergil’s Aeneid, which obviously plays a major role in the Inferno and which is really the first, long symbolic poem in Western literature.  But here’s the key.  For a symbol to work it must first be itself.  Thus if we miss the symbolism or the allegory, we can still understand what’s going on.  I don’t mean to be dismissive of symbols, but I do mean to suggest that they are not the be-all and end-all of the Inferno or the Aeneid.  So when Hollander points out some symbols or an allegory, we should just go along with him and try to appreciate the object itself and then its extended meaning.  Paolo and Francesca are overcome with love for one another, and that’s what we need to know first and foremost.  Yet we must also realize that they were both married—she to his brother—and thus they are both apt symbols for adultery.
You will have noticed that the Inferno consists of 34 cantos, each of which is fairly short, fairly self-contained, and fairly easy to read.  We don’t have to read them all at once.  Indeed, spreading out our reading is an added pleasure, isn’t it?  So read a canto without looking at the notes (unless you feel that you just can’t read another word until you have checked to see what Hollander has to say about whatever is arousing your intellectual curiosity).  You can put check marks or question marks in the margin, underline lines or phases or words that seem significant or strange or curious to you, and in general just set about “owning” the book.
Now you can assail the notes.  You will undoubtedly be pleased with yourself when you notice that many of his notes are to words or passages that you questioned or underlined or checked for one reason or another.  That’s good.  In fact, that’s excellent, for you are reading the text as you should.  You will also undoubtedly notice that the notes are of two general sorts:  some are designed to help us readers, others are directed at Hollander’s fellow scholars.  Don’t let yourselves get bogged down in the latter!  That said, some of those scholarly disputes are quite interesting, some are nasty, and some simply reek of the ivory tower.  That’s just the way it is.  We can pick and choose as we see fit.
Now it’s time to go back and re-read the canto armed with the knowledge we have gained from our first reading and from our reading of the notes.  This is the time for you to say “Wow”!  Or “I didn’t notice that the first time!”  Or “So that’s what he’s getting at!”  These moments are to be cherished.  Hopefully they will increase in number as you get deeper into the Inferno.
Our own journey into the ins and outs of the Inferno will be much less terrifying than Dante’s.  Indeed, it could be one of the most memorable trips we’ve ever made!
I’ll be back with some tips on where you can find Dante if you happen to visit Firenze (Florence) between now and our Bjorklunden Seminar.
Arrivederci, Dan


Ciao di nuovo,
If you’ve been to Firenze, Florence, or Florentia—they’re the same city, just different names-- then you’ve seen numerous statues, frescoes, paintings, and probably post cards of Dante Alighieri, our newly and dearly beloved poet.  If you are going to Firenze soon, then you’ll see…well, you get the idea.  Dante is all over the magnificent city of flowers on the banks of the Arno, and that’s ironic in many ways. 
The Duomo—Santa Maria del Fiore—is the center of Florence’s religious life, and the artistic centerpiece on the wall of the cathedral is a huge fresco of Dante and La Divina Commedia shedding light on the city of Florence with Brunelleschi’s dome in the background, lots of sinners in Hell to Dante’s right, and behind the poet luckier ones ascending through Purgatory to Paradise at the top.  One of the first sins is arrogance, and the dome is a perfect example of arrogance. 
The Florentines had built a cathedral so large that it needed a dome larger than any other dome in Christendom.  “It couldn’t be done,” said others, but the Florentines were confident that one of their architecturally inclined citizens would figure out a way to put a dome upon their cathedral, which would be the largest in Christendom.  That’s arrogance, at least civic arrogance.  Brunelleschi went to Rome, studied the Pantheon, officially a Christian church then but obviously a pagan structure in origin, which had the largest dome in the world at the time (and the largest until the invention of reinforced concrete), figured out how to do it, and did it.  Dante’s favorite word for Florentine civic life was arroganza.  To put an exclamation point on the fresco, we only need remember that Dante died well before Brunelleschi was even born.  But of course Domenico di Michelini was praising Florence as much as he was Dante and wanted all viewers to think of Dante, who was by then the most famous poet in the western world, as Florence’s favorite son—more civic arrogance.
In any case no viewer of the Dante fresco can fail to associate the poet with the city, which is so readily identifiable, and that’s the historical point, an ironic one at that.  The Florentines sent Dante into exile for eternity.  Seriously.  He was offered several opportunities to return and be forgiven, but he refused the outrageous conditions imposed by the offer.  So he stayed away the rest of his life rather than return to his home town, which he deeply loved but where he would be burned at the stake.  The order has never really been rescinded.  Seriously.  In 2008 Florence’s city council decided to forgive him and retract the exile.  That’s more arrogance and another irony, for the vote was so contentious and the debate so acrimonious that Dante’s 20th generational descendant refused to attend the ceremony and to accept a Golden Florin representing an official civic apology.  Irony and arrogance abound in the Inferno, as Hollander’s notes make abundantly clear.
Across from the Duomo is the Baptistry, where Dante was baptized.  The huge ceiling mosaics are so superb that art historians suppose that Venetian mosaicists were brought to Florence just for the purpose of executing them.  The figure of Christ rendering the Last Judgment is unforgettable although, as I can testify from personal experience, college students tend to focus more on Lucifer torturing the damned in Hell.  That latter mosaic, according to one guide book, “seems to prophesy the not-too-distant world of Dante.”  Certainly the poet would have had that image in mind since he would have seen it many times.
Just a few blocks from the Duomo is the Casa di Dante, now a museum that is worth the time, effort, and little money to visit even though it is not one of the several “don’t miss” museums in the city.  The collection is a mixed bag with plenty of  manuscripts, documents, pictures of buildings and places dating from Dante’s time, a death mask, and who knows what else.  What I also like is the small, nearby church of Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi, also known as the Chiesa di Dante ‘Dante’s Church’.  It’s just a few steps from the Dante House and is easily found because you can hear music emanating from inside.  It’s here that Dante first saw Beatrice Portinari (not by the bridge as postcards suggest) when he was about 14 and she 9—young love).  I seem to recall having seen her tomb here also, but my memory may be less that accurate.  You can leave a note to your beloved in a basket, and you can also find another death mask.  If you Google “Dante’s death mask”, you’ll find many pictures; pay attention to his nose, because it is a “cause celebre”.  Nowadays the most famous death mask is the one in the Palazzo Vecchio, just a few blocks away toward the river, because it was featured in Dan Brown’s Inferno.  It’s in a narrow hallway on the first floor—that would be the second floor here in the States—and overlooks the huge Hall of 500.  You’ll need to pay to tour the historic rooms of the city’s historic city hall, the construction of which was only completed in 1322, two years after Dante’s death.  So he only knew it as a construction site.  If you do tour the palazzo, by all means look for the many turtles with a sail on their shells, for they are artistic symbols representing the first Roman emperor Augustus’ motto:  Festina lente “Hurry slowly.”  Neat, eh?
My very favorite Dante portrait is Giotto’s in the Bargello.  So leave the Palazzo Vecchio via the main entrance, turn left and then left again.  The hordes of people lined up are waiting to get into the Uffizi, which you have probably already visited and thus may have seen Castagno’s nice portrait of Dante therein.  Walk down toward the back of the two great buildings and then take your first left; across the street you’ll soon see a street (via Vinegia) with its entrance actually covered by a building.  Take it for one block, where you’ll run into another marvelous Florentine tradition, namely, Trattoria Anita, which serves very good food for a cheap, fixed price at lunch.  We Taylors have eaten there dozens of times and have many stories to tell about its clientele and its staff. Go back to the main drag, turn right, walk past the Tribunale up to via della Vigna Vecchia and enter the big building at the upper end of the piazza (the entrance is just around the corner).  It’s the Bargello, and it contains some of the most exquisite sculptures you’ll ever see.  Michelangelo is in the first room on the ground floor.  Next go out into the courtyard.  Don’t be fooled by the wishing well, because it used to be the gallows where criminals were hanged; the Bargello was the police station, jail, and home of the police chief for mediaeval Florence.  In the room to your right at the top of the stairs is the Donatello room.  Be sure to check out Donatello’s David.  As one of my students said, “It may be David in the front, but that’s a female butt.”  I had to agree.  Your next goal is the chapel dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalen where the condemned prisoners spent their last night and where during some later reconstruction they found Dante in a badly damaged fresco attributed to Giotto.  The artist had met the poet and admired him.  Dante’s nose seems to be more flat than the other sharply aquiline beaks accorded him by later artists, many of which you have already seen.  Most masks seem to have been made from the horizontal statue of Dante on his tomb rather than from his actual face, and that is what seems to differentiate the nose.  So take your pick, sharp and elongated or pudgy and not so angular.
Leave the Bargello and return to via della Vigna Vecchia and follow it for about three blocks to a small piazza with a small church across the way.  Look at the big apartment / condominium on the corner to your left; it’s the former Palazzo Salviati and has foundation stones dating back to the 1500s; one of the Salviati girls married one of the Medici boys.  Donna and I rented the corner apartment on the third floor for a month in 2014.  It was perfect in all respects but one—the nighttime noise.  Florence’s nightclubs that cater to foreign students studying in the city are down by the Arno, and at two or three in the AM all the drunken Italian guys who failed to hook up come strolling up the street to their cars parked in the nearby city-run parking garage and singing and shouting.  It’s awful.  It’s almost every night.  Then too the Teatro Verdi is just across the street, and all the scenery for the operas and plays and all the musical instruments for concerts and so forth are delivered to the back doors right across the street from the palazzo between 1:00 and 5:00 AM.  Last but not least the lady in the penthouse condo just above comes home late at night and walks across the floor time and time again in her spiked heels.  We want to return to Florence for another month, but we’re looking for another location.  If you turn right and walk a few feet, you can enjoy the best gelati in Florence at Vivoli, one of the oldest gelaterias in the city.
Continue on via della Vigna Vecchia to its end at the next intersection, turn right and walk a few meters, and then look to your left at the piazza and church of Santa Croce.  As I’m sure you will readily recognize, the statue at the left of the church is that of Dante.  The façade is lovely but 19th century whereas the basilica dates back to the 13th and was consecrated in 1443.  Some of you will have read about Santa Croce in November of 1966, because that’s when the Arno flooded and wreaked havoc on both sides of the river and its neighborhoods.  Santa Croce and the National Library just beyond the right of the church were arguably the worst hit.  Cimabue’s magnificent wooden Crucifixion became the symbol of the devastation.  It has been restored, but the damage is undeniable.  The basilica charges an entrance fee these days, mainly because it is the national cemetery, so to speak, of Italy since so many of Italy’s great literary and political geniuses are buried here.  In my opinion Santa Croce deserves far more time and attention than the average tourist accords it.  Why?  I’m glad you asked.
Santa Croce has the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Dante, of course, but also of Leonardo Bruni, the first real historian since Roman antiquity and whose tomb is the archetype for so many later Renaissance tombs all over Europe; of the composer Rossini, whose William Tell overture was familiar to all little boys and girls who watched The Lone Ranger on their black and white tvs back in the early fifties and whose Barber of Seville is still one of the best loved operas of all time; and many other gorgeous tombs and monuments to famous Italians, including Gino Capponi, the statesman and historian who gave his name to the elementary school which both our daughters attended.  Then there is the art, o my goodness, the art:  Donatello’s Annunciation in sandstone and his Crucifixion that Brunelleschi criticized for making Christ look too much like a peasant.  Giotto’s frescoes are among his best.  My favorite is the one depicting St. Francis—it is a Franciscan church after all—on his death bed.  The grief in his fellow friars’ facial expressions and body language is awesome.  You will note, however, that one and only one brother notices the saint’s soul ascending to heaven.  Then there’s the wooden panel featuring what is the closest thing to a photograph of St. Francis, i.e., it might be based on an eye-witness description of what he actually looked like; it dates to the mid-13th century and is the oldest work of art in the church.  All of this is in the church itself, and we haven’t even entered the cloisters where the Bardi Chapel contains beautiful Della Robbia ceramics of the four evangelists, whom you can recognize by their iconography--the angel, lion, bull, and eagle.  The last place to visit is the museum, which features Cimabue’s restored Crucifixion.  All too many tourists miss much or even most of this because they hurry through to the Leather School and buy some of the best-made and most beautiful leather goods in Florence.
Let’s go back to Dante’s tomb and look at the main inscription, which is in Latin as are most of the texts chiseled into the stone of the many funerary tombs.  It reads as follows in English:  “To/For Dante Alighieri the Tuscans happily constructed (this) honorary funerary-monument, decreed three times in vain by (our) ancestors, in 1829.”  Dante was exiled from Florence in 1302 and never returned to the city he loved so much in either life or death.  So who’s in this “tomb”?  Nobody.  It’s a cenotaph.  Most tourists can’t read the Latin and haven’t read their Florentine history and therefore think that they are viewing the tomb of one of the world’s greatest poets.  Ah, the irony!  But where’s the arrogance?  It’s in the behavior of the Florentine city fathers who, not once, not twice, but thrice voted down the resolution to honor Dante with a monumental cenotaph.  On other occasions they did try to get his body back, but they were unsuccessful.  So where is Dante and who managed to retain possession of his bones?  Ravenna and its Franciscans.
Before going to Ravenna, however, I want to take you to Michelangelo’s tomb, for it is a success story.  He was buried in Rome, as most of you probably know.  His brother, however went down to Rome, stole his body, and brought his corpse back to Florence, much to the delight of the Florentines and the dismay of the Romans.  Or so we would think, but the arrogant city fathers at first denied the Buonarroti request to bury their most famous scion but then relented.  Giorgio Vasari, who painted the interior of the huge and magnificent dome of the cathedral and who later turned into a biographer of artists—many of us think that he is a better writer than artist—designed Michelangelo’s beautiful and informative tomb in Santa Croce.  So, all’s well that ends well.  But it isn’t all well, or at least it wasn’t when I was last there.  The three sculptures personifying painting, sculpture, and architecture are or were misidentified in the little descriptions of the tomb enclosed within plastic covers and written in English and Japanese.  Oh well, the readers are only tourists, and you can’t expect them to know much of anything.  More arrogance.
   Dante died in Ravenna some time during the late PM or early AM of September 13-14, 1321, and the city fathers there have dedicated an entire zone to Dante.  The marble mausoleum is small and simple but elegant.  It’s at the end of a small street and therefore hard to find, but it’s worth a visit.  The tomb itself is on the wall facing the door by which we enter.  The poet’s body was first (?) in the wall of a Franciscan cloister, but when Pope Leo X, a Medici and Florentine, demanded it be returned to Florence in 1519, the Ravenna Franciscans refused the order, dug into the back of the wall, removed the bones, and hid them in their monastery.  They sent an empty coffin to Florence.  Next the remains were hidden in another church wall near where the tomb is today.  The bones were not found again until 1865.  Below the chest containing Dante’s remains is a bronze wreath placed there by the victorious Italian army after WWI, and above it is a gold cross given by Pope Paul VI in 1965.  The statue of Dante has him at a lectern, and I like that.  The inscription reads in an English translation:  “The rights of monarchy, heavens and infernal lakes of the Phlegethon that I visited I sang, as long as mortal destiny decreed.  But my soul was taken to a better place and reached its creator among the stars.  Here I lie buried, Dante, exiled from my birthplace, a son of Florence, that loveless mother.”  Irony trumps arrogance.
A dopo (Later), Dan
P.S.  In a few days I’ll post the text of the subscriptio, i.e., the words written below the picture of Dante in the Duomo, along with my literal translation and two would-be poetic translations that in my opinion butcher both Latin and English.


Ciao per la terza volta,
As I indicated in my last “blog”, I managed to find the Latin text of the subscriptio to the portrait of Dante and La Commedia enlightening Florence.  Unfortunately, it contained two spelling errors, which I have corrected.  The text follows and is itself followed by three translations, the third and last of which is a literal translation that I did in hopes that you could then make some sense out of both the Latin and the two English translations.
Arrivederci, Dan

The Latin
Qui coelum cecinit, mediumque imumque tribunal,
Lustravitque animo cuncta poeta suo,
Doctus adest Dantes, sua quem Florentia saepe
sensit consiliis ac pietate patrem.
Nil potuit tanto mors saeva nocere poeta
Quem vivum virtus, carmen, imago facit.

Translation I
Who sang of Heaven, and of the regions twain,
Midway and in the abyss, where souls are judged,
Surveying all in spirit, he is here,
Dante, our master-poet. Florence found
Oft-times in him a father, wise and strong
In his devotion. Death could bring no harm
To such a bard. For him true life has gained
His worth, his verse and this his effigy.

Translation II
Behold the poet, who in lofty verse
Heav'n, hell, and purgatory did rehearse;
The learned Dante! whose capacious soul
Survey'd the universe, and knew the whole.
To his own Florence he a father prov'd,
Honour'd for counsel, for religion lov'd.
Death will not hurt so great a bard as he,
Who lives in virtue, verse, and effigy.

Translation III
The poet who sang of Heaven and the middle and lowest tribunal

And who illuminated all with his mind is here, the learned Dante.

His own Florence deemed him father, thanks to his wisdom and piety.

Savage death is unable to harm so great a poet, whom virtue, poetry,

And this painting keeps alive.

Notes:  This is a literal translation.  The word for Heaven is coelum, which is a common mediaeval spelling of caelum ‘sky, heaven’.  The ‘thanks to’ is a “grammatical translation” of the ablative of cause in consiliis and pietate; please feel free to substitute “because of” if you feel so inclined.  Latin consilium has numerous meanings, e.g., ‘purpose’, ‘counsel’, ‘judgment’ et cetera; the first translation understands it as an intellectual term, and I like that.  So I have rendered it by ‘wisdom’ even though it’s a plural in the Latin.  You might want to take a stab at finding a better noun, preferably one that makes sense in the plural.  The verb of the final clause is facit, which is singular and which I have retained even though it has three subjects.

Let me now close this missive with what may seem like a reductio ad absurdum.  As some of you may know, I am unabashedly addicted to reading Donna Leon’s mysteries featuring Commissario Brunetti of the Questura in Venice.  In fact, I have never been a fan of Venice even though I’ve been there many times, but after discovering the author and her policeman I now want to spend some quality time, maybe even a month, in her, his, and now my beloved Venezia.  I read Leon with a Streetwise Venice map by my side, because she constantly refers to vaporetto stops, piazzas, churches, streets, calle, and other place names.  In her latest novel, her 25th, I discovered something that might interest you.
On page 226 of The Waters of Eternal Youth we read the following.  “Brunetti found himself thinking of Dante’s belief that heresy was a form of intellectual stubbornness, the refusal to abandon a mistaken idea.”  Needless to say, that struck a responsive chord in my often unresponsive memory, and off I went to our text.  The reference is to Canto X, line 35, but the note on page 196 is crucial.  Brunetti is a learned man married to an even more learned wife who teaches English at the University and is intellectually enamored of Henry James.  He, however, reads Greek and Latin texts, especially historians like Tacitus, but in this novel he is reading Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, which treats the voyage of the Argo and the love affair of Jason and Medea.  No wonder I love these mysteries so much!

Arrivederci, Dan

P.S.  I bring to your attention a new book, which you will surely not want to buy or even read but which testifies to the enduring interest in Dante’s Inferno.  Now available from John Benjamins BV in Amsterdam, the publisher of my three books and numerous articles in Historiographia Linguistica, for the paltry sum of $128.00 is To Hell and Back: An anthology of Dante’s Inferno in English Translation (1782-2013) by Tim Smith and Marco Sonzogni of the Victoria University of Wellington.  The blurb in Benjamins’ latest catalogue reads as follows.  “Though Dante Alighieri (1265-2013) maintained that translation destroys the harmony of poetry, yet his Commedia has been translated into English time and again.  At last count, 129 different translations have published at least one canticle of the Italian masterwork since the first in 1782.  Smith and Sonzogni have assembled and annotated two complete translations of Dante’s most popular canticle, Inferno:  68 cantos each translated by a different translator in this celebratory volume.”


Ciao!

I first became acquainted with and fond of Dante Alighieri when I read his little treatise entitled De Volgari Eloquentia “On Vulgar Eloquence.”  The ‘Volgari’ in the title does not mean ‘vulgar’ in its usual English sense; rather, it refers to the spoken language, the vernacular, the language (or dialect if you prefer) spoken by the ‘vulgus’ or ‘common people’.  Up until Dante wrote this little book, probably no one had ever modified the noun ‘eloquence’ by the adjective ‘vulgar’.  So the title would have come as a shock to his contemporaries if any of them desired to read it, but see below.

In the DVE Dante argues that literature written in the vernacular can be every bit as good, every bit as worth reading, and every bit as eloquent as anything written in Latin, the language of all official civic and ecclesiastical discourse, all scholarly publication in theology and philosophy and science, and all literary expression.  Despite being “the first piece of scientific literary criticism in the modern world and the first serious treatment of the literary use of a vernacular”, it does not seem to have attracted all that much attention, perhaps because it was not finished—Dante refers to a fourth book, i.e., chapter, but the treatise ends in mid-sentence in book II—or perhaps it was not even published in any real sense.  Only four manuscript copies exist, none of which dates to Dante’s lifetime, and the first translation only appears in 1529.  Did you get that word ‘translation”?  Dante wrote the De Volgari Eloquentia in Latin!  After all, if he wanted the right people to read such a text, he had to write it in Latin.  But as we all know, “the proof is in the pudding,” and the pudding is La Commedia, which was later rechristened as La Divina Commedia because it was so eloquently and elegantly written—and in the vernacular! 
What I am suggesting—and you are all invited to disagree completely with me—is that Dante’s Divine Comedy did far more to elevate the Italian language to a literary language than did his scholarly arguments in the De Volgari Eloquentia.  In any case I was sufficiently impressed at the time to begin translating the DVE.  I managed to finish one entire page before abandoning the task.  (Two new translations had just appeared.)  I’ll bring the only translation I have just in case anyone wants to peruse it.

So I hope that you have been glancing at the Italian on the facing page, because it really is exquisite.  Of course it’s not like any Italian you or I have ever seen, and it is quite difficult to read even without all the elisions and archaic vocabulary.  But it did engender a total revolution in the history of literature, for other authors, most notably Geoffrey Chaucer, began writing what turned out to be great literature in their own native languages.  So Dante is more responsible than anyone else for the death of Latin as a literary language.  Latin continued to be the language of the four professions that produced “doctors”, namely, philosophy, law, medicine, and religion, for centuries.  Neo-Latin is still alive and probably has more speakers than some native languages do, but don’t ever get the idea that I speak it!  What is most important is that Dante’s exquisite Italian, which is full of Tuscan and Florentine expressions, is right in front of our eyes as we travel to and from his vision of the Inferno.
In fine, I trust that you are all are either finished with your first reading or well along with doing so.  I’m slightly over halfway through another reading, and I am reading the entire Inferno quite rapidly without attending to the endnotes, which I have already copiously annotated.  I recommend that you do the same.  Experiencing a great work of literature in a relatively short amount of time is something to be treasured.  Here’s wishing you a magnificent treasure.
Arrivederci, Dan

P.S.  Apparently there is a new movie out entitled “The Little Hours” that, according to a Washington Post reviewer and Denver Post headline writer, is based on “Bocaccio’s Decameron.”  Ignorance is indeed bliss.  For those of you who did not study the Decameron with me last year and who may never have seen the author’s name, it is spelled B-o-c-c-a-c-c-i-o.  Giovanni’s last name was misspelled consistently throughout the article.  The review appeared in what is euphemistically called the “Life & Culture” section, which in this case is further proof of the decline of Western culture.  Aaaarggghhhh!


Bonjour!
     Donna and I are in Paris, which is as wonderful as always.  As I am sure that I have said on any number of occasions, I love coincidences.  In fact, I consider coincidences to be the puns of life.  Yesterday brought a many-faceted set of coincidences.  We took my “Godsend” to lunch.  Six years ago at a small dinner party here I passed out and came to with Odile holding my right wrist and saying “dix-neuf”, which I knew meant “19” and which I knew was my pulse rate and which I knew meant that I was in trouble.  Believe it or not, I relaxed completely.  The rest is history, and I owe my life to Odile, a retired gastroenterologist, and to my pacemaker, which the surgeon assured me was an American one (Medtronic), not that I really cared at the time or even now.  That Odile is well educated, speaks excellent English, and is absolutely delightful is a bonus of extraordinary proportions.
So at lunch, which lasted for two hours, she mentioned the Delacroix museum, which is quite close to our apartment and which we found on our evening stroll.  Later at home I checked out the museum in my DK eyewitness guide to Paris and, lo and behold, I found an image of Delacroix’s painting of Dante and Vergil, which is in the Louvre and which we will enjoy in due time.  So there’s Odile, Dan, Dante, and Vergil all in one lovely coincidental complex.
     Upon reflection, the Dante connection gets even better.  In the Musee d’Orsay yesterday I went looking for and quickly found a copy of Rodin’s statue of Ugolino and his boys (Canto 33) and a bit later a reproduction of his Gate of Hell.  The originals are, I am pretty sure, in the Musee Rodin, which along with the d’Orsay, Louvre, Marmottan Monet, and Picasso, is one of our very favorite museums here in the city of light.
The crowning touch of these coincidences, which I immediately noticed upon entering our apartment a week and a half ago, may well be the two black ink sketches that flank the credenza in our living-dining room.  One is obviously of Dante, and the other is surely Beatrice although neither is identified.  The two subscriptiones (the plural of subscriptio, a Latin word you learned in my third missive) are in a 19th century Italian hand that I find almost impossible to read and that seems to refer to details of ownership and so forth.  Apparently one owner’s zio ‘uncle’ is involved.  More than that I cannot decipher, but Donna and I are both happy to be living with Dante and Beatrice.
     Much to my own surprise I brought a copy of the entire Commedia to Paris with me, and I am rereading the Inferno for a third time.  Moreover, I am doing so in the “not elegant” and note-less prose translation that I mentioned in my first blog.  Even more to my surprise I am enjoying doing so.  I hope that you too are enjoying another reading of Dante’s journey to the Inferno.
A bientot, Dan

P.S.  Unless I discover something else exceedingly Dante-esque, I’ll spare you any more blogs
Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2017 to Friday, October 6, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Literature

 

From AIDS to Zika (Man's Struggle against Microbes throughout History, Our Sometimes Successful Battles against Them and Their Influences on Civilization As We Know It)

This is a course for the lay person about Infectious Diseases. We will discuss various epidemics (Plague, Tuberculosis, Syphilis, AIDS) and their effects on civilization. Our fight against these microbes now involves vaccines and antibiotics, but a crisis today threatens us with organisms resistant to all known therapies. This seminar will also marvel at the fascinating life cycles of some parasites, review the latest frontier in medicine (the Microbiome of our colon) and finally come to an appreciation of microbes for whom we have wine, beer, bread, and yogurt to thank.

David W. Hines MD, FACP graduated from Lawrence in 1976 wishing to pursue a career in medicine.  Achieving only a B average, he decided to bypass the rigorous admission requirements of the American Medical system and enrolled in the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in 1977. After a brief tour in the minor leagues, he transferred to Rush Medical School in Chicago for the last two years of medical school and where he stayed for residency and fellowship. In 1987 at the age of 33 he got his first job as an Infectious Disease Consultant.  He married Nancy Gazzola, also LU '76 and they live in Oak Park Illinois. They have three children, Jenny, Giulia and Sam, none of whom are in the medical field.

Optional Readings: "Deadly Companions" by Dorothy Crawford, "Spillover" by David Quammen

 

Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2017 to Friday, October 6, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Nature & Earth Science

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

 

Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2017 to Friday, October 6, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Nature & Earth Science

 

This seminar has been cancelled.  Please contact the Assistant Director at 920-839-2216 for more information.

Date: 
Sunday, October 8, 2017 to Friday, October 13, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Art & Art History; Literature

What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?

It's the title of a great song from the 60s...What direction will you take as you move beyond your career to the next stage?

This seminar will examine how people can invent new possibilities that enrich their lives and the lives of others.  Participants will explore results from the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study including surprising findings about how people move from retirement to new careers and life projects. Discussions will draw on the work of life-stage theorists like Erik Erikson, and stories from “My Time: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life. ”Discoveries from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation study, "Successful Aging" will offer thought-provoking examples.

The seminar will include plenty of outdoor learning activities and opportunities for sharing new ways to navigate life. Equally important, this seminar hopes to inspire participants to form relationships that can endure beyond the week at Björklunden.

Rick Price ‘62, considers his main achievement in life to be happily married for 50 years to a fellow Lawrentian, Mary Beecher Price, '62.  He is Stanley Seashore Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Organizational Studies and Research Professor Emeritus, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

Tom Lawrence ‘63, is an EMMY award winning TVNews Anchor who also ran a successful corporate communications consultancy, and who now works as a Professional Ski Instructor at Beaver Creek, Colorado.   He says, "I made the life I lived, and lived the life I made."  Now in his early 70's, Lawrence look at that as a "stage", not an "age".

 

Date: 
Sunday, October 15, 2017 to Friday, October 20, 2017
Fee(s): 
$840 double; $1,120 single; $415 commuter
Topic(s): 
Education

Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube