Osher Online - Winter 2021

Value-Added Fridays

Friday sessions are open to all current Osher members: Premium, Semester and Basic. These sessions will not be on your registration form; they are included free of charge! Eager to introduce a friend or colleague to the Osher program? Simply email staff at Osher@Mizzou.edu, and they will send out a guest invitation for one complimentary session.

Potpourri of the Arts

Fridays: Jan. 15, 22, 29; Feb. 5 (4 Sessions)
9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Each semester, Osher invites the movers and shakers of mid-Missouri’s arts scene to discuss, display, perform and showcase their work. Join us for this grab bag of arts topics.

Coordinator: Carolyn Dye

Jan. 15: Daphne DuMaurier, Dreaming True

Daphne DuMaurier was one of the most successful and famous writers of the early 20th century and the daughter of a well-to-do and well-known family. Her father was the most famous stage actor of his day; her grandfather published a best-selling book. Although accepted in 1920’s London society, she chose to spend her adult life in an estate on the rugged Cornish coast. And that windswept coastline inspired her to write stories that carry with them a sense of the supernatural.

DuMaurier’s writing style is surprisingly modern, muscular, direct and engaging—neither artsy nor gothic—which keeps her books as readable today as when they were first published. Her best-selling novel, Rebecca, was made into an Academy Award-winning 1940 movie, famous for its sense of mystery and characters who are not who they seem. This classic film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Daphne DuMaurier’s life is as fascinating as her novels. In this course, we will explore her books and the places, people and events of her life that contributed so much to her stories. 

INSTRUCTOR: Mike Trial was born in Kansas City, Mo., but grew up in an oil town in Saudi Arabia, where his father worked for ARAMCO. Trial graduated from the University of Missouri in 1969. After military service, he went to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at various locations in the U.S. and overseas. He retired in 2003, lived in Japan for four years, then moved back to Columbia in 2007.

Jan. 22: UNBOUND REBOUND: What You Need to Know about the 2021 Unbound Book Festival

After the heartbreak of having to cancel the 2020 Unbound Book Festival just weeks before it was due to take place, Unbound will be back in 2021—but it will look very different. The event will be entirely online, and rather than taking place over one weekend in April, events will be spread out, two per week, from January through April. Festival director Alex George will explain how and why the festival has decided to take this very different approach next year and how to access the events. He’ll also give his usual annual run-down on the program and all the wonderful authors and poets you can expect to see at Unbound next year—and, of course, he’ll answer all your questions.

Instructor: In addition to being a practicing attorney, Alex George is the author of seven novels, most recently The Paris Hours; the founder and director of the Unbound Book Festival; and the owner of Skylark Bookshop on 9th Street in downtown Columbia. Mo.

Jan. 29: Tales and Intrigues from Classical Mythology

Take a tour through the fascinating world of classical mythology and meet the gods and goddesses who inhabit this world. Find out how they personified and mirrored the human characteristics of jealousy, toughness, imagination, trickery, deceit and intelligence. What were their domains, symbols, traits and family ties? Learn about their involvement with other gods and humans in the myths that make these gods famous and are told still today in fiction, television and movies. Explore the connection between the Greek and Roman gods. The talk will present artwork from MU’s Museum of Art and Archaeology plus other famous pieces housed in museums worldwide.

Instructor: Valerie Hammons taught Latin, world history, American history and newspaper for 27 years at junior high and high schools in Kansas and Missouri. Her passion has always been anything having to do with the classical world. She is retired and spends her time as a docent for MU’s Museum of Art and Archaeology, leading tours and serving on the board of the Museum Associates and on several committees.

Feb. 5: The Poetry of Louise Glück, 2020 Nobel Prize Winner

Louise Glück (b. 1943) is a poet of feminist, confessional and psychoanalytic subjects who developed into a creator of powerful interpretations of mythological themes. When she won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature, the Nobel Committee praised her for taking "inspiration from myths and classical motifs…The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice—the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed—are masks for a self in transformation." This talk will give a brief background on Glück's career and lead into a class discussion of a volume the Nobel Committee singled out for praise: "Averno (2006) is a masterly collection, a visionary interpretation of the myth of Persephone’s descent into hell in the captivity of Hades, the god of death." The complete volume of Averno is available at The Floating Library: https://thefloatinglibrary.com/averno/.

Instructor: Timothy Materer is an emeritus professor of English at the University of Missouri. He is an active scholar of modern poetry who has written six books on modern literature and has received MU teaching awards.


Brown Bag “Lunch and Learn” Seminar Series

Fridays: Jan. 15, 22, 29; Feb. 5 (4 Sessions)
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Brown Bag seminars are open to all Osher Premium and Basic members throughout the academic year. Semester members may attend for the semester in which they enroll. Feel free to nosh on your lunchtime treats during this “lunch and learn.”

Jan. 15: The Strange but True World of Carnivorous Plants

This session will focus on carnivorous plants and the importance of protecting biological diversity. Carnivorous plants include some of the most beautiful flowering plants: the Venus flytrap, sundews, pitcher plants, bladderworts and butterworts. Carnivory has evolved independently several times in different orders of flowering plants. In fact, there are more than 600 known species of carnivorous plants spanning all continents except Antarctica, but bladderworts are the only species of carnivorous plants native to Missouri. Carnivorous plants include some of the most endangered plant species, mainly because of loss of habitat and poaching. They have adapted to grow in habitats, such as bogs and wetlands, where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen. Their key adaptation is to capture prey, frequently, but not exclusively, insects, and then, through enzymatic activity, digest the tissues of the prey to obtain nutrients that the plant then absorbs and assimilates. Carnivorous plants use specialized leaves (not their flowers) as traps to lure prey with such features as bright colors, extra-floral nectaries (glands that secrete nectar), guide hairs and leaf extensions. Most carnivorous plants can survive without consuming prey, but they grow optimally with access to the nutrients obtained from their prey.

Instructor: G. Michael Chippendale is professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Missouri. He spent his career at MU after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Manchester University, England; his master’s degree from the University of Waterloo, Canada; and his doctorate in entomology from the University of Wisconsin. He held a research and teaching appointment in MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. He led the insect physiology laboratory, which focused on studying the relationship between plant-feeding insects and their host plants. He was elected a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America in 1994.

Jan. 22: Marriage in American Popular Culture

Since the end of World War II, the political and personal meaning of marriage has shifted significantly in the United States. Once a symbiotic contract between a man and a woman necessary for survival, marriage morphed into an institution about love, choice and happiness. This course analyzes how popular culture—films, theatre, TV shows—reflected and reinforced changes in American definitions of marriage. Looking at the correlation between major legal changes in marriage, gender and sexuality and important creative works around these topics, we can further explore why and how marriage has become a controversial issue in the 21st century.

Instructor: Ashley Pribyl holds a Ph.D. in musicology and American studies from Washington University in St. Louis and has taught at WashU and Arizona State University. Her current book project, Fifty Years of 'Company': Exploring Gender, Sexuality, and Marriage through an American Musical has received funding from the New York Public Library and the Society for American Music. She currently serves as the director of education and outreach for the Missouri Symphony.

Jan. 29: Being Mortal

In this class, participants will discuss the book Being Mortal by the physician Atul Gawande. The book addresses crucial issues involved in the experiences and care of the progressively frail elderly and persons who suffer serious illness and those facing end-of-life decisions and needs. He provides a compelling critique of the failures of our health care system to meet the needs of persons and their family members who face the reality of terminal or preterminal illness or the burdens of the increasing loss of physical, mental or social function. Gawande combines storytelling with findings of relevant research to explore the many issues involved and offer possible solutions.

Participants in the session are expected to have read the book to fully contribute to the discussion.

Instructor: Robin Blake, M.D., is a retired family physician and emeritus professor of family and community medicine at the University of Missouri (Columbia campus). He has had both professional and personal experiences dealing with the issues addressed in the book. For 13 years, he taught an Honors College course on medicine and literature and has facilitated discussions of books dealing with subjects relating to medicine, illness and social policy.

Feb. 5: Salamander Rule-breakers

These least-known amphibians have some seriously strange life cycles, behaviors and biological traits. Salamanders truly are the rule-breakers of the amphibian world. Join us for a discussion of all things slimy, with a deep dive into the salamanders of Missouri, how they affect their environment and how we can learn from them.

Instructor: Sam Stewart works as a naturalist at the Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City, Mo. Most of his days are filled with researching, creating and presenting natural history programs for the public. His passion is learning about and caring for the resources of our state and sharing that vision with the public.


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