Arts of Affluence [2]: (Passive) Investing on Wall Street

COURSES > LIFELONG | COURSES > ONLINE

Modern financial research suggests that investing success is generally unrelated to investing skill — and therefore that the best way to “win” the investing “game” is not to “play” it at all. This course will examine the “passive investing thesis” through the close reading and discussion of contemporary investing classics alongside a consideration of Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. Texts will include: Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street and William Bernstein’s The Four Pillars of Investing. Continue reading

Arts of Affluence [1]: Wealth and the American Dream

COURSES > LIFELONG | COURSES > ONLINE

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 and the consideration of two films on wealth in America (Citizen Kane by Orson Welles and Born Rich by Jamie Johnson). 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”, and Thorsten Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class. Continue reading

Sweet Homer, Chicago: A Summer Reading of the Iliad

COURSES > LIFELONG

Homer’s Iliad has inspired audiences for nearly 3,000 years. This course will provide students with a rigorous but relaxed opportunity to study this seminal epic through close reading and discussion. Students will better understand the work itself, the culture that produced it, and the Iliad’s role as the “starting point” for all that came after. Continue reading

Delivered from Destruction: The Bible’s Exodus and Virgil’s Aeneid

COURSES > LIFELONG

Origin or foundation epics are common to many cultures. In this course we will examine two such epics side-by-side: the Exodus epic (Exodus-Joshua) from the Bible, in which the Israelites are transformed from slaves in Egypt into masters in Canaan, and Virgil’s Aeneid, in which the vanquished at Troy are transformed into the victors at (what will become) Rome. Through careful consideration of both stories we will seek to better understand each epic in its own right as well as what the two stories have in common and what makes each story unique. Continue reading

Divine Epics [3]: The Qur’an and The Aeneid

COURSES > LIFELONG [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

Both the Aeneid and the Qur’an can be viewed as the culmination of divine trilogies — the Aeneid completes the story begun in the Iliad and Odyssey, and the Qur’an follows the Hebrew Bible and New Testament (or, more precisely: the Torah and the Gospel).  This course will examine these “sequels,” both as independent works and in terms of their relationships to their precursors.  In addition, we will also compare and contrast Virgil’s account of the “Trojan exodus” of Aeneas, which culminates in the foundation of Rome, with the Exodus from Egypt, which culminates in the foundation of Israel. Continue reading

Divine Epics [2]: Homer and the Bible

COURSES > LIFELONG

This course is a rare opportunity to compare four foundational texts that are usually read independently or in pairs, yielding surprising insights into the texts and ourselves. Beyond extending an existing story, sequels comment upon, reinterpret, and at times even repudiate the events and values of the original. This course examines the Odyssey as a sequel to the Iliad and the New Testament as a sequel to the Hebrew Bible in an effort to understand the later works both as independent works and in terms of their vital relationship to their predecessors. Continue reading

Divine Epics [1]: Hebrew Bible, Iliad, and Qur’an

COURSES > LIFELONG

This course is a rare opportunity to compare three foundational texts that are usually read independently or in pairs, yielding surprising insights into the texts and ourselves. Reading the Hebrew Bible with the Iliad illuminates the polytheistic elements of the Bible and the ways modern readers are conditioned to misread it as a purely monotheistic work. Reading the Qur’an alongside the Hebrew Bible illuminates the Biblical foundations of the Qur’an and the reasons many readers of the Bible assume the Qur’an “got it all wrong.” Through close, coordinated readings participants will understand three divine epics in a new light. Continue reading

One-Day Hebrew Bible

COURSES > LIFELONG [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

This seminar is an opportunity to consider the Hebrew Bible in a relaxed yet focused environment. What exactly is this work and where did it come from? Who wrote it? What are the main ideas contained in it? This one-day course will discuss these and other questions through a hands-on introduction to, and an overview of, one of the cornerstones of Western civilization and the “Abrahamic religions.” No prior knowledge or experience of any kind is required, although completion of the advance readings is expected. The reading assignment will be posted online at least one month before the seminar date. Continue reading

Socrates Who Does (Not) Know: Gorgias, Charmides, Laches, Lysis

COURSES > LIFELONG | COURSES > ONLINE

Although Socrates has become iconic for “knowing that he doesn’t know”, only some of Plato’s dialogues actually cast Socrates in this light.  Other dialogues portray a Socrates who seems to know a great deal about a great deal (including love, politics, virtue and the afterlife).  In this course we will examine important dialogues of both types.  On the one hand we will read and discuss “aporetic” or “inconclusive” dialogues about the nature of temperance (Charmides), courage (Laches) and friendship (Lysis).  On the other we will consider Plato’s great Gorgias in which Socrates practically preaches for one particular notion of the good life. Continue reading

One-Day Three Traditions

COURSES > LIFELONG

This daylong seminar is a short, intensive exploration of the common and contrasting themes of the three Abrahamic scriptures: the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur’an. Selections from these works, which are rarely read together, will be read by participants before the seminar begins. Then specific passages will be compared, contrasted, and discussed, allowing participants to discover the different views of important subjects in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The result is an exploration of key concepts such as “justice,” “mercy,” and “true religion,” and an understanding of critical similarities and differences among these three bodies of literature.  No prior knowledge or experience of any kind is required, although completion of the advance readings is expected. The reading assignment will be posted online at least one month before the seminar date. Continue reading