Seminar Listing by Date

Experience Bjorklunden: Explore Door County on Your Own

This week also offers guests the unique opportunity to enjoy Door County’s beauty at their own pace. Björklunden will serve as home for the week—or just a few days—while the pressures of day-to-day living melt away. Guests will be in charge of their own daily schedule, whether it is visiting The Ridges, playing a few rounds of golf, or simply relaxing on the deck. Registration fee will be prorated based on length of stay. All meals are included, with the exception of Wednesday dinner.

Experience Bjorklunden: Exploring Door County on Your Own

This week also offers guests the unique opportunity to enjoy Door County’s beauty at their own pace. Björklunden will serve as home for the week—or just a few days—while the pressures of day-to-day living melt away. Guests will be in charge of their own daily schedule, whether it is visiting The Ridges, playing a few rounds of golf, or simply relaxing on the deck. Registration fee will be prorated based on length of stay. All meals are included, with the exception of Wednesday dinner.

The Prosecutor's Art: From the Streets to the Suites to the Oval Office

Street crime, white collar crime, presidential crime … whatever the crime, prosecutors must direct investigations and build cases, then present them to judges and juries. How do they do it? Does the Constitution restrain them?  Do their own constitutions guide them? Do corruption and politics influence them? And what about the special challenges for Robert Mueller and any others who might dare to prosecute a president? From behind the scenes to open court, armed with law, literature, and cinema, two former state and federal prosecutors will lead our investigation.

What Makes a Classic Movie Classic? Learning to Understand the Difference Between a Classic Film and "Just an Old Movie"

This seminar will help participants develop their own criteria for evaluating the merits of some well-regarded products of the Classic Era of Hollywood film-making. Among the criteria to be considered will be the strength of characterization, the development of the story line, the appropriateness of style to content, the creativity evident in the finished product, and the ability of the film to move an audience closer to an understanding of the human condition.

Smartphone Photography: Exploring Creativity with your Camera

In this seminar we will explore the iPhone, Android, and digital cameras for their creative potential. Assignments will be given that are specifically designed for smartphone cameras. Students will be encouraged to add camera apps to their phones. You may use the editing software already on your laptop computer, but instruction will be given on Photoshop and Photoshop Elements to enhance your images.

Three Wives of Abraham

Central to the story of Abraham in Genesis 12-25 are his three wives, especially Hagar and Sarah, and their offspring. This seminar will focus on these fascinating women as they appear in the biblical story and in various traditions sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Watercolor: The Expressive Medium

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.

The American Civil War: News and Views

This class will provide a fresh attempt at addressing a large and never old topic, one not offered at Björklunden for more than a decade. The class will be geared toward newcomers to the topic as well as to long-time readers on it, and will take a little more of a general-discussion approach than Cornelius has offered in his four recent lecture-oriented classes on Abraham Lincoln. One goal is to take up more views of the Civil War from an international perspective than is usually tried, both in its own day and in how it is viewed in our own time.

Americans First: Why We Don't Actually Hate Each Other as Much as You Think

In this tumultuous and unhappy political moment, Americans are overlooking a central fact about our country: American Solidarity. We all know how polarized we are, and there are certainly important reasons for our political and cultural conflicts. But let’s explore how much we still have in common, and see if we can renew our shared citizenship by rediscovering the resources of the American character and our civic culture. In this seminar, we will take a close look, through polls, media coverage, and political debates, at some of the issues and ideas currently dividing the country.

The Great Failure: Why World War I Began, Continued, and Never Ended

We live today in the world the Great War made. Virtually every geopolitical challenge we face in the twenty-first century traces its origins to the cataclysm that left almost 17 million dead, brought down four empires, and birthed Stalinism, Nazism and fascism. This seminar will explore what may well have been the greatest set of diplomatic failures in history: to prevent the war; to stop it by a compromise peace once it had begun; and to end it on terms that would not set the stage for a more ghastly conflict within a generation.

Revolutionary Russia: Politics and Culture from Lenin to Stalin

This seminar will explore the political and cultural tumult that mark the transformation of the Russian Empire into the Soviet Union. Each day, participants will study a moment of historical crisis: the prerevolutionary setting; the revolutions of 1917; the civil war that followed; Lenin’s New Economic Plan; and Stalin’s revolution from above. We will supplement historical background reading with primary sources from the time, including literary and political texts, memoirs and letters, paintings and films, journalism and newsreels, works of music, drama, dance, and opera.

Dwight Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Dulles Brothers: American Foreign Policy in the 1950's

Dwight Eisenhower was one of the most prominent leaders in all of 20th Century American history, and is considered by many historians to be the greatest Republican president in the modern era. Eisenhower, the one-time general and former master strategist of the Normandy Invasion or D-Day during World War II, was particularly focused on foreign policy as president. The Central Intelligence Agency or CIA, came into existence in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

We are a time-illiterate society, and our lack of a sense of temporal proportion underlies many of the intractable environmental and social problems that we have created for ourselves. As a culture, we have no instinct for the durations of the great chapters in Earth’s past, the rates of change during previous intervals of environmental instability, and the intrinsic time-scales of ‘natural capital’ like groundwater systems. This seminar seeks to change participants’ perception of time.

Door Kinetic Arts Festival

During this week, the Door Kinetic Arts Festival is in residence, creating new works in film, dance, theatre and other artistic mediums; hosting renowned artists from across the country. Nightly events at Björklunden include a film festival, play and screenplay readings and dance performances. This year will feature, among others, celebrated Chicago dance company Lucky Plush. Please visit for more details.

When History Meets Philosophy

The philosophy of history has two broad aims. The first looks at the totality of past human action and attempts to explain how history has evolved overall. This is called speculative philosophy of history. It is represented by thinkers like Kant, Hegel, Marx, Spengler and Toynbee, each of whom looked for a pattern, direction, and meaning in history. The second aim of the philosophy of history examines how history is written and attempts to understand what it means to explain something historically. This is called critical philosophy of history.

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 2019 will be Tritone’s 21st consecutive year at Björklunden.

Baseball Double Header: Classic Baseball Films and the 2019 Postseason

If you have ever been a fan of baseball and the drama associated with the Major League Baseball playoffs in October, this unique seminar is for you! Each morning of this interactive seminar will feature substantive discussions about the 2019 pennant races and baseball’s post-season framed with viewings of great baseball films . . . and excerpts from Ken Burn’s award-winning series: “Baseball”. In the process light will be shed on the social, economic, and historical contexts in which professional baseball has been played since 1869.

Homer's Odyssey

We’ve all read the Odyssey, but we’ve never read a translation with a feminine voice. Since Chapman’s 1612 translation of Homer’s Odyssey, 60 or more English translations of that monumental epic have appeared. Despite the facts that the Odyssey has always been described as feminine vis-a-vis the masculine Iliad and that it features especially strong female characters, e.g., Athena, Penelope, Helen, and Circe, not a single translation was by a female until now. Emily Wilson’s magnificent translation may well be the best ever.

Lincoln's Spies

Behind the grand campaigns of America’s Civil War, with their sweeping battlefields and men charging at one another en masse, there was another conflict out of sight. It was the shadow war of dangerous espionage, tangled intrigue and covert operations, which attracted little attention. Author and veteran correspondent Douglas Waller, who covered the CIA for Newsweek and Time, will deliver a fast-paced week exploring the heroes—and the scoundrels—who fought in secret to save the Union.

Prosperity to Debacle: The Third Century Crisis in Roman History

Author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon fixed as “the period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous” that of the Pax Romana from 96 to 180 A.D. At its height the Empire extended from the Solway Firth in Scotland to the sands of the Sahara, from the Atlantic to Arabia. Its collapse, though subtle, was sure. While Gibbon attributed that collapse to “the rise of Christianity and triumph of barbarism,” the Empire’s decline and fall gained momentum from 235 to 284 A. D.

Stealing the Show: Memorable Supporting Players of the Classic Film Era

One great asset of the movies of the Classic Era is the rather large assortment of memorable performances by well-known character actors and actresses in solid support of the stars of the silver screen. Several of these inventive and professional performers appeared in one hundred or more films during their film careers, typically enlivening the scripts and frequently “stealing the show” from the ostensible stars of the pictures. This seminar will turn the spotlight on a few of these successful and interesting screen artists, giving particular attention to some of their best roles.

TV's Middle Period, Late 70's to Century's End: Time of Tele-Transition

As the 1970s wound down, many of the decade’s major critical successes (M*A*S*H; Norman Lear’s politically minded sit-coms; acclaimed Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off Lou Grant; Roots: The Next Generations, followup to the original 1977 miniseries) and commercial hits (Happy Days and its spin-offs; Three’s Company, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and their ilk) were still going strong—but their time was running out.

The Migration Phenomenon: Perspectives from Both Sides of the Atlantic

The United States and its European partners are witnessing the largest mass movement of people since the end of the Second World War. Millions of migrants from troubled states are seeking security and prosperity. This unexpected flow of people is presenting Western governments with a panoply of challenges. First among them is the capacity to absorb and assimilate new residents, who come from quite different cultural backgrounds. These differences in turn are making unprecedented demands on Western economies, legal systems and social services.

Watercolor: A Fresh Start

This watercolor seminar is designed for absolute beginners as well as for those who have had some experience painting with watercolor but need a refresher to gain the confidence to start again. Explore the fall at Björklunden while enjoying this opportunity to learn or re-learn watercolor from an artist passionate about the medium in a supportive and friendly learning environment.

Human Microbes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In this seminar we will review the origins of human pandemics that have devastated mankind from the beginning of time including Tuberculosis, Plague, Measles, Smallpox, Influenza, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Syphilis and HIV. How each has influenced history will be emphasized.

We will also learn about some fascinating Parasites, their complicated life cycles, and how they may be important for the health of our immune system and in mind control. Yes, mind control.

Wildflowers, Birds, and Mushrooms

These three most popular nature subjects will be the object of our explorations in Door County’s most beautiful preserves. The early tinges of nature’s fall color palette with make the scenes most picturesque. We will venture out to Washington Island in search of the rarer species that inhabit this isolated island. You must be able to walk on unpaved trails for distances of two miles over a period of 2 ½ hours.
There is a $25 materials fee for this course added upon registration.

Creating Emotional Landscapes Through Poetry

Poets know that there are two kinds of landscapes—first, the kind we experience with our own five senses, ready to be remembered or forgotten at will. Then there are the landscapes that take shape in our minds, reflecting a distinctive tone, an identifiable mood, a clear point of view—creating overtones of love, anger, fear, contentment, hope, grief—even spirituality. By extending this broader concept of what a “landscape” can be, this seminar will offer poets techniques for bringing these subtleties and shadings to the surface.

Paraphrases and Reminiscences: Exploring the Art of Piano Transcription

The practice of transcribing musical works from other media has enjoyed a long and fascinating tradition in Western music. Performing composers ranging from Bach, Liszt, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff freely adapted vocal and instrumental works to the keyboard. Seminar instructor Anthony Padilla, who acquired a lifelong personal enthusiasm for this repertoire from his studies with legendary pianist Jorge Bolet at the Curtis Institute of Music, will discuss and perform organ works by J.S.

American Immigration

A Legal, Cultural, & Historical Approach to Understanding the Complex and Controversial Issue Dominating Our National Dialogue. All Americans are products of immigration. Even Native Americans were massively affected by the waves of European, involuntary African-American, Asian, and Hispanic migration. Are we a nation of immigrants or a nation that fears immigration? Should we welcome refugees or shun them as potential terrorists? Do we favor family members or workers? Rocket scientists or maids and landscapers? Build a wall or a welcome center?

Medieval Women: Life, Work, Space, and Place

According to an Anglo-Saxon maxim: “A woman’s place is at her embroidery.” While Anglo-Saxon women were famous for their highly accomplished needlework, they did not lead confined or passive lives. In fact, they had considerable freedom in law and practice: they exercised many important roles in society. This seminar will explore the everyday life and work of medieval women against a background of the various public and private spaces that they occupied and moved through. Attitudes toward space were especially conditioned by religion.

Modern China Through a Lens of History and Art

During this seminar, we will explore how the traditions of China’s past have resulted in the transitions we see today. Discussion will focus on China’s history, art, politics, and US-China relations from the early nineteenth-century to the present. Seminar leader Dr. Shelley Hawks will guide discussion on modern China, drawing upon two recent publications on China. Both works illuminate key aspects of China’s past and of the profound interconnection between the US and China. Guest lecturer Dr.

Villains, Maidens, and Spirits: An Introduction to Russian Folklore

In this seminar, we will embark on a journey into the colorful, mystical, and dangerous world of Russian folk fairy tales and mythology. Participants will be introduced to such beloved fairy-tale figures as Baba Yaga, Koshchei the Deathless, Snow Maiden, Vasilissa the Beautiful, Ivan the Fool, and the Firebird. We will also explore folk beliefs associated with various spirits residing in your house and the forest, such as domovoi, kikimora, leshii, and others. We will discuss the folk stories and establish their connection to ancient myths and superstitions.

Wildlife Photography: Turning Passion into Productivity

This seminar is designed to increase knowledge and skills in wildlife photography, from field tactics and strategies to aesthetics and image composition. Participants will discover how to use blinds and concealments to get closer to wildlife as well as learn the criteria for a strong photo and tips to make pictures stand out in a sea of “me too” digital images. Van Den Brandt also discusses his favorite and most productive national and international wildlife photography destinations. Class time will be split between lectures and dawn field sessions at local natural areas.

The Ulysses Starter Kit

Published in 1922, James Joyce’s Ulysses invited legal suppression and moralistic attack for its uncensored picture of Dublin and Dubliners. The book is now regarded as a masterpiece of modernist narrative and comic storytelling, filled with symbols, allusions, and wildly funny depictions of life during a single day in 1904 Dublin. This seminar will combine lively discussion with the instructor’s guidance on Joyce’s life, Irish history, music, and culture.

A New Leaf for Your Art

This seminar is for all levels of artistic skill and experience. We will explore how artists, past and present, have used gold and silver leaf as compositional elements to enrich works in various media. No experience in gilding or realistic painting is required; leaf techniques can be employed in both abstract and figurative work. Our focus will be on leaf as composition and dramatic element. All painting media—oil, watercolor, etc.—are welcome. Participants may bring works-in-progress or pre-primed blank canvases or wood panels for painting from scratch.

Listen to the Birds

Our goal is to see as many birds as we can find, especially ones you select, in the most beautiful preserves in the county. My goal is to deepen your love and excitement for these amazing creatures and to expose you to a new way of birding where you learn from the birds, not just identify them. You will also learn field identification skills, bird sounds using a variety of sound tools, techniques for understanding the complex behaviors of birds, and fascinating discoveries that science has made about birds.