Seminar Listing by Date

The Fascinating History of Baseball in Milwaukee

Dating back to the late 1850s, professional baseball in the city featured teams like the Cream City Grays and the Milwaukee Creams. It also was host to a little known, secret Milwaukee meeting in March 1900 that included baseball giants Connie Mack and Charles Comiskey and witnessed the incorporation of the American League.  The original Milwaukee Brewers played in the American Association from 1902-1952 and dominated the local baseball scene for half a century.

Loves Me, Loves Me Knot / The History, Law, and Literature of Marriage (Fifteen Years Later)

In 2007, Björklunden offered Loves Me, Loves Me Knot / The History, Law, and Literature of Marriage.  Twenty avid participants – young, old, and in between; married, mated, and single – were fascinated to learn how little we understand about this curious institution.  Now Charlie and Karen Schudson return – to explore again and, given the marriage-shaking developments of the last fifteen years, to explore much more.

The United States Constitution

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land. The document came into existence in 1787, as it replaced the Articles of Confederation and gave the nation a strong central government. The framers of the Constitution divided the federal government into the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The objective was to have a balance of power between the three divisions. The document also featured a Bill of Rights and other amendments that were added as the nation grew and prospered.

Joe Biden’s World: U.S. Foreign Policy after Trump

When Joe Biden was elected President, many people around the world breathed a sigh of relief. U.S foreign policy would return to its postwar norms after four disruptive years of Donald Trump. But has the Biden administration really returned to familiar patterns? The picture is mixed. This seminar will explore how the world today is quite different from the years pre-Trump. There is no going back to earlier times of a unipolar world in which U.S. leadership was a given. Globalization and polarized politics in the U.S. have taken care of that. Seminar discussions will address U.S.

Vergil’s Aeneid

The Aeneid is arguably the literary foundation of Western civilization. Aeneas flees a burning Troy, wanders the Mediterranean with his fellow survivors, and, perhaps most notably, navigates the treacherous sea of his own spiritual, intellectual, and emotional odyssey until he finally reaches what will become the site of Rome, the eternal city. Hated by the goddess Juno, torn between love for Dido and duty to his destiny, Vergil’s heroic leader is a unique literary figure but also, somewhat paradoxically, one of us.

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

This seminar will dive into some of the most remarkable moments in the best novel of the nineteenth century, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.  We will explore the historical context of the novel, its development in Tolstoy’s imagination, and its appearance as a kind of anti-soap opera in serial publications of the time.  Because the novel is more than 700 pages, we will plan each class session around specific passages, our aim being to enrich your understanding of the characters and social dynamics that shape them.  We will also look at Tolstoy’s unusual writing style, which, until the Schwartz

Richard Nixon: The Triumph and Tragedy of an American Politician

Richard Nixon was one of the best known politicians in 20th Century American history. A native of California, Nixon was born to a poor family in Yorba Linda. He graduated from Whittier College and received a full scholarship to law school at Duke University. However, his real interest was politics. A fast riser in the Republican Party, Richard Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946, and the U.S. Senate in 1950.

Two Irishmen, Two Novels, Two Portraits

In a lively, collaborative seminar, we will read and discuss Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and follow it with James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Both novels tell the story of a young man’s painful development and the influences that aid or thwart him; and both works fit intriguingly but uncomfortably within the tradition of the Bildungsroman (the novel of growth). These authors were rebellious Irishmen who wanted to break from literary, social, and sexual conventions, and their novels were accused of indecency and irreverence.

The Fall of Rome: From Caesar to King and From Jupiter to Jesus in 500 Years

In the year 300, Rome was still the greatest empire the West had known to that point. By 800, the city of Rome was a shadow of its former self, Charlemagne had been crowned by the pope as Emperor of Europe, Irene was the Byzantine Empress, and Harun al-Rashid was Caliph in Baghdad. The world was a much different place. Within 500 years, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa had changed greatly. Where once there were citizens, there were now barbarians. Where once there was one empire, there were now many kingdoms.

Is Belief in God Rational?

The problem of God has been more widely discussed than any other in Western philosophy. Arguments for and against the existence of God abound! But, the “problem of God” is much broader and deeper than just the question of existence. There are questions about the very nature of God. What properties can be ascribed to “the being than whom no greater can be conceived”? Is such a being even possible? Is such a being within the bounds of human understanding? And, ultimately, is belief in God rational ... whether or not God exists?

The Rise of Ideology: America's Surprising Political Journey

American politics has --- until recently --- been anomalously non-ideological.  One could find free-traders and protectionists, libertarians and authoritarians, segregationists and civil rights activists --- together in the Republican and Democratic parties, both working under the same banner.  Although these alliances were strained, fraught, and controversial, American parties muddled through, and somehow represented a similarly all-sides-heard electorate.  Was this due to   Divine direction?  Volunteerism?  Structural factors?  A commitment to localism?  Some deep, "mystic chord of memory

Impressionism: Painting of Modern Life Family

Despite its current popularity, Impressionism didn’t always have such wide appeal. Now-celebrated artists, such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas, were often criticized in the 1870s and 1880s for their blurry, abstract compositions. Through slide lectures, readings and discussions, this seminar will introduce the techniques and subjects of Impressionism and examine the myths and meanings of the art movement within the cultural and political context of late nineteenth-century Paris.

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. Seminar participants will explore basic traditional approaches to watercolor painting as well as fresh and experimental wet-into-wet watercolor techniques.

Spore Losers – The World of Non-flowering Plants

This week, we will learn about the many types of plants that reproduce by spores instead of seeds. PowerPoint color slide programs will show examples of the local varieties of mushrooms, ferns, lichens, mosses, clubmosses and liverworts.

Expect some walking into wet areas on our field trips to study these plants, so bring waterproof hiking boots and perhaps a hiking pole for steady travel. You may also want to bring a ten-power small magnifier plus a notebook and pen. If you have any favorite field guide books, you can include them as well.

The Women Who Made the Movies: Their Notable Contributions to Films of the Classic Era

Film scholars are just beginning to appreciate the vitality and creativity of the many talented women involved in the Golden Age of Hollywood filmmaking.  The considerable contributions of these pioneering moviemakers deserve a closer look.  In addition to major actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Irene Dunne, and Greta Garbo who were performing before the cameras, other backstage geniuses of the time included Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino, Directors; Dorothy Fields, Lyricist; Barbara MacLean, Editor; Edith Head, Costume Designer; Natalie Kalmus, Technicolor Director; Mary Blair, Animator;

Medical Miracles: Curious Advances from Antibiotics to Vaccines

Before the germ theory was discovered, Dr Snow ended a Cholera epidemic in London using an epidemiological map. Milkmaids in England saved the world from Smallpox. France almost went bankrupt building the Panama Canal until the mosquito was proved to be the source of Yellow Fever. Outbreaks of Typhoid Fever in New York ended only when an Irish immigrant was sent to prison. Two doctors in Poland prevented Nazi occupation in a city throughout WWII with some secret injections.

Wildflowers and Birds

These two most popular nature subjects will be the object of our explorations in Door County's many parks and preserves. The early tinges of nature's fall color palette will make the scenes most picturesque. Our goal is to find as many beautiful wildflowers and birds as we can, and learn about their relationships in their communities. You must be able to walk on unpaved trails for distances of two miles over a period of two and a half hours.

The Beatles: 4 Lads Who Shook the World

The band may have ended in 1970 as a recording group, but its life story and their music has continued to remain popular through several generations. This course will present a chronological history of the band with emphasis on their music, as well as discussions on their influence on popular culture. The Beatles Anthology will serve as the reading text. Participants are encouraged to bring memorabilia to share with the class and relate their own personal stories of The Beatles.

Indelible Images: Iconic Moments, Scenes, and Dialogue from Classic Films

Many of the films of Hollywood's Golden Era have left lasting impressions upon audiences down through the ages. This seminar will explore the "story behind the story" of several "magic moments" in film history, images indelibly stamped on the collective cultural imagination of generations of filmgoers. Selections will be offered from a wide variety of genres such as mysteries, romances, Westerns, musicals, family dramas, historical films, creature features, and others, in order to give students a representative sampling of these treasured moments from Hollywood history.

The Stars: Mansions Built by Nature’s Hand

On a clear night, far from the light and the rush of the city, you can see thousands of stars. They tell our stories, guide our way, and quietly mark time. From a twinkle of light, the stars reveal something much more: the history of our celestial home, the Universe. From the formation of our planet, to the life of our Sun, the swirling maelstrom of our galaxy, and the unimaginable deep of Infinity, the lights of the night sky reveal the vast sweep of the cosmos.

Miskwabik: The Art, Science, and History of Copper-Working

Metals are an amazing material! Come learn about copper through the lenses of art and science and its importance to the Great Lakes region. In this seminar, we will explore artistic forming processes and scientific viewpoints of working with copper. Each participant will undertake their own copper-working project, forging connections between the beauty and structure of the metal. The seminar format will provide a little history, some fundamental science background, instruction in forming techniques, and time to explore creatively.

African America in Slavery and Freedom: How our Racial Past Informs our Present

This course will trace the African American journey through a 400-year struggle for survival and dignity, exploring slavery, emancipation, segregation, migration and the civil rights and post-civil rights movements. We will examine the ways in which African Americans, beginning with the racialization of slavery at Jamestown, Va., in 1619, adopted strategies to survive in, cope with, adjust to and struggle against systems of oppression throughout our nation’s history, working both inside and outside American institutions to pursue their goals of citizenship, identity and inclusion.

Expanding the Canon: Exploring Diversity and Inclusion in Classical Music

Works by dead white European men have dominated concert stages for generations.  Recent events highlighting systemic racism and sexism have prompted musicians to re-evaluate the long-standing canon of Classical composers to question why works from historically under-represented composers have been largely overlooked.  Lawrence Conservatory piano professor Anthony Padilla will examine the roots of the traditional Western canon of piano literature and share his and his students' explorations into piano works by women, Latinx, Asian, Black and indigenous composers of color, including recent wo

Chemistry of Art

Chemistry is a crucial component to the artist’s toolbox. In this seminar, we will explore the fascinating chemistry of paintings, learn the chemical reasons dyes bond to textiles, and reflect on the importance of light in the experience of art. This workshop will involve some hands-on activities and lab experiences to complement the discussions. I will also share my research on pigment identification in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts, and discuss the current practices of scientific inquiry of artistic objects.

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. Under consideration for this year’s festival: the International renowned Doug Varone and Dancers, Emmy Award-winning monologist and writer Rick Cleveland, and the return of our cocktails expert, James Beard nominee Robert Simonson.

No advance registration needed