Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Auburn University opens new academic year with lecture and membership awareness event

Published: September 01, 2022

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Gary Mullen, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University, will kick off the Fall term at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, at Auburn University with an introduction to Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888).

The lecture, “Philip Henry Gosse: A Naturalist’s Sojourn in Alabama,” will be held in the auditorium at the Auburn University College of Nursing, 710 Donahue Dr., at 4 p.m. Thursday, September 8. The public is invited.OLLI’s fall membership-raising event immediately follows at OLLI’s Sunny Slope campus, 1031 S. College. The program and membership reception will be a good introduction to OLLI for people interested in learning about the member organization for lifelong learning.Philip Henry Gosse was a young English naturalist when he came to the Black Belt region of Alabama in the early days of statehood. Gosse traveled up the Alabama River with the intention of collecting fossils to send to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia but stopped short when he was offered a position teaching the children of planters in Dallas County. Gosse recorded his observations of plant and animal life, plantation life, and everyday life. Though fascinated by the beauty and biodiversity of Alabama, his deep discomfort with slavery caused Gosse to leave after only eight months. Upon returning to England, he published these observations as a series of articles and later in a book titled "Letters from Alabama (1859)".

Gosse published more than 40 books, producing outstanding illustrations of insects and marine life.During his time in Dallas County, Gosse produced a beautiful collection of 49 sketches and watercolors called Entomologia Alabamensis which was never published during his lifetime. These extraordinarily detailed images were only made available to a wider audience in 2010 with the publication of "Philip Henry Gosse: Science and Art in Letters from Alabama and Entomologia Alabamensis" by Gary Mullen and Taylor Littleton. Mullen and Littleton are considered the foremost scholars of Gosse in Alabama. Dr. Mullen’s presentation detailed how a young Gosse developed a passion for the natural world and used his artistic skills to preserve images of the splendor he encountered during his travels.Thanks to a loan from Alabama Audubon, OLLI is presenting a public exhibition of reproduced images from Gosse’s Entomologia Alabamensis at their Sunny Slope campus, 1031 S. College St. The exhibition will be on display during the Sunny Slope social following Dr. Mullen’s lecture and remain on display until Nov. 14.

The exhibition is made possible by Alabama Audubon with assistance from Auburn University Libraries & Special Collections Department and support from The Daniel Foundation of Alabama. Alabama Audubon is Alabama’s leading non-profit organization promoting conservation and greater knowledge of birds, their habitats, and the natural world.OLLI at Auburn is a membership program for learning in retirement for adults 50 years and older. As a member-led and member-driven lifelong learning program, OLLI members participate in leadership through the OLLI Advisory Council and committees. OLLI is a program of Auburn University Outreach, Office of the Vice President for University Outreach. Additional information about OLLI at Auburn is available at www.auburn.edu/outreach/olliatauburn.

For media inquiries, contact Cheryl Lumpkin at cbl0042@auburn.edu or (334) 844-312

Submitted by: Scott Bishop