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Artesian Bough Symposium
Be inspired during a unique 5-day scholar-guided journey through the classics of world literature and thought. Relax in the intimate setting of an historic lakefront resort. Engage with lecturers and fellow students by each evening's fireside light, or just watch the sun set over northern Michigan's beautiful Lake Leelanau. Class descriptions below.
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View Course Brochure here.


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Accommodations separate - please contact Fountain Point Inn & Club for options starting at $45/night shared occupancy. 231-256-9800 or

See Available Courses Below:

MORNING COURSES - 9 am - 12 noon     

(1)  The Holy Trible: Coordinated Readings from the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Qur'an - Instructor: Adam Rose (AM)
Although the three Abrahamic scriptures grew largely out of a common textual tradition, with the exception of the paired "Old and New Testaments" they are rarely read together.  In this course, however, we will examine selected passages from the three scriptures in an attempt to compare and contrast their treatment (form and content) of important subjects -- such as the nature of God, Creation, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, "Justice," "mercy," and "true religion" -- in order to form an initial assessment of the key similarities and differences among the three bodies of literature.

(2)  Memory and Imagination - Instructor: Irina Ruvinsky (AM)

In the past century, marked for many by lasting effects of collective devastation, we have learned that homecoming, when it is possible, often does not bring about a recovery of identity. Instead, it demonstrates for us the necessity to engage in a creative quest for lost time through the virtual spaces of memory and imagination. In this course we will read works by such diverse authors as Montaigne,  J.J Rousseau and V. Nabokov, who either anticipated or experienced first hand the emerging condition of the modern exile who does not seek to re-appropriate the lost past in space, but in time.

(3)  Classical Greek and Chinese Thought: Four Conversations - Instructor: Steven Schroeder (AM)
Each of the four sessions in this class will be a conversation focusing on a selection of classical Greek and Chinese texts (with a leap in the last session into some medieval European mysticism).  The first session will focus on Laozi's daodejing in conversation with the Greek thinkers known as "presocratic." The second will turn to Zhuangzi and Plato.  The third will take up the Shijing ("Book of Songs") and Greek lyric poetry.  The final session will take up Chinese poetry of the Tang Dynasty (with particular attention to Du Fu, Li Bai, and Wang Wei) in conversation with Plotinus and medieval European thinkers who carried his neoplatonism into the thinking of "the West."

(4)  Introduction to Islam and Muslim Civilizations - Instructor: Shiraz Hajiani (AM)
This course will explore a range and diversity of cultures in which Islam is practiced today, including the relationships of Islamic religious ideas to the broader dimensions of society and culture. Alongside doctrine, law, history and religious practice, we will examine art, poetry, literature, … We will focus on issues of modernity that arise as Muslims seek to relate their heritage to contemporary circumstances, and will critically analyze the polarity between “Islam” and the “West.” The course will consist of lectures; video documentaries; case studies and will be centered on group discussion of readings relevant to each topic. This course is designed as an introduction but is also suitable for someone looking to deepen their knowledge of Islam and Muslim Civilizations.

(5) Foundations of Yoga Philosophy - Instructor: Abhi Ghosh (AM)

This course explores the core worldviews and existential aspects of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras through a discussion of Kriya-yoga (yoga of action) and Raja-yoga (the king of yoga), two foundational yoga processes. We’ll focus on questions of finding life’s purpose, the nature of one’s mind and enjoying one’s self. Through lectures, discussions, interactive participation and audio-visuals we’ll try to comprehend this ancient text in ways relevant to us in the twenty-first century.

(6) Homer's Odyssey - Instructor: Carl Anderson (AM)

Close reading and discussion of Homer's Odyssey in translation. Homer's Odyssey is one of the most famous epic poems in western literature. The narrative is full of folk talks, adventures at sea, sailor's tales and crafty lies, sex with wondrous partners and a long delayed home coming. It is also, as the classicist W. Robert Connor writes, a story about "extreme choices– immortal life in the realm of an immortal woman or return to an ordinary life and a mortal wife." In other words the poem has something for everyone. The translation of Robert Fagles, Homer: The Odyssey (Penguin 0-14-026883-3) is a required text.

AFTERNOON COURSES - 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

(1) Wealth and the American Dream - Instructor: Adam Rose (PM)

For better or worse, one version of the American Dream has long equated “success” with “material wealth”. This course will explore that equation through the close reading and discussion of important fiction and non-fiction works from America’s Gilded Age. Texts will include: Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick, Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as well as Andrew Carnegie’s “The Gospel of Wealth”, Thorsten Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class.

(2) Virginia Woolf's Illness as Metaphor - Instructor: Irina Ruvinsky (PM)

Modern European literature is often characterized by an attraction to decay, nothingness and an obsession with physical corruption and death. In this course we will examine this fascination with illness by turning to the works by V. Woolf, L. Tolstoy and A. Schopenhauer. We will examine why some of these authors endowed disease with positive value, crediting it with the development of spiritual values that would otherwise remain dormant.

(3) Freedom Charters: Stages on the Way to Freedom - Instructor: Steven Schroeder (PM)

In this class, we join a global conversation about politics that has been carried on historically in the constitution of cities (an act that always involves responding to the question of what we mean by “we”). One always enters this quintessentially human conversation in the middle, and the middle with which we begin is the philosophical conversation of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that included the French and American revolutions (against the background of an earlier revolution in England) and their great charters of human rights. We turn in the second session to revolutions in the nineteenth century associated with philosophical criticisms of capitalism (including not only those of Marx but also those that most directly shaped the formation of the Labour Party in Britain and the social democracies that emerged in twentieth century Europe). In the third session, we turn our attention to twentieth century revolutions, with particular attention to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Africa, and China. Finally, in the fourth session, we turn to contemporary argument about human rights and the possibility that the way they have been deployed has, in some cases, worked against the practice of freedom.

(4) Attar's Conference of the Birds:  A Spiritual Quest for All Times - Instructor: Shiraz Hajiani, University of Chicago (PM)
The twelfth century poet Farid al-Din Attars's poem Conference of the Birds is perhaps the most beautiful of mystical poems describing the quest for Truth.  He worked several layers of allegories into the poem.  There is, first of all, an allusion to separation and re-discovery - the throngs of birds are looking for their nationhood, their ruler (the Simurgh)... they are looking to discover their true identity.  There is an alluseion to spiritual search and teaching -- the Hoopoe is the guide, the teacher on the path, and from amongst the immense gatherings, twenty nine birds join as disciples and follow wayfarers.  There is a notion of detachment from the everyday life - the Hoopoe admonishes each bird for its characteristic failure of getting caught up inthe world and not undertaking the journey of discovery.  There is a notion of journeying from this world to another far, far away through many difficult stages - a flight of the self to the Self.  The ultimate allegory in the work is that of the intimate relationship and tension between God and the human soul - a veritable treatise on the habith qudsi [an utterance of the Prophet Muhammad but attributed to God] "I was a hidden treasure, and loved to be known, so I created the world that I might be known." Through this close reading and discussion of the Conference we will explore the Sufism and the mystical traditions of Islam.  We will examine the historic clash between the exoteric and esoteric interpretations of Islam -- a true classic!

(5) The "Love" Sutras of Narada - Instructor: Abhi Ghosh, University of Chicago (PM)
What Rumi's worldview is to Sufism, Narada's is to bhakti - pure love - in South Asian devotional traditions.  The Narada Bhakti Sutras, a key text of bhakti-yoga, talks about the sweetness of the Absolute, the essence of being human and the nature of ure love.  In this course we'll discuss ancient and pre-modern Indian aesthetics and theories of emotion (rasa), and we'll conclude by exploring India's most popular sacred love-story, the Rasa Lila of Krishna.

(6) Virgil's Aeneid - Instructor: Carl Anderson, Michigan State University (PM)
 Close reading and discussion of Virgil’s Aeneid in translation. Virgil’s Aeneid is the most famous epic poem of Roman civilization. The poem addresses themes of exile, wandering, loss, and fate as they relate to the founding of Rome and its rise as an imperial power. Of special interest will be how the poet combines a stern and detached epic-like public voice (patriotic and concerned for the march of a people) with a deeply sensitive private voice full of sympathy for the sufferings of the world. The translation of Robert Fitzgerald, The Aeneid by Virgil is a required text.