Odyssey USA

Lady looking over her shoulder in classroom
Odyssey USA: An Adventure in Learning – The University of South Alabama’s Institute for Learning in Retirement

About Odyssey USA

Odyssey USA is a membership organization and a community of learners who share the love of learning. Odyssey members design their own classes based on the interests and intellectual curiosity of the group. Classes are challenging and thought-provoking with mind-stretching activities on a wide variety of topics. Additional activities include quarterly luncheon lectures, and field trips.

▼   Upcoming and Current Courses

Odyssey courses are offered on a quarterly basis:  Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.  Classes are offered on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 – 4:00 PM and on Fridays from 1:45 – 4:15 PM.

Wednesday Classes — USA Marx Library Auditorium


1:30—2:30 p.m.  The Roman Empire’s Capital Moves East; The History of the Eastern Roman Empire; The Byzantine Empire

Instructor: Janice Gandy                                                           Coordinator: Hal Alexander

This quarter, Mrs. Gandy will discuss the history, art and architecture of the Roman Empire after Constantine moved its capital to Constantinople around 330 A.D. The impact of the move on Christianity will also be covered.


3:00—4:00 p.m. Online/Virtual Tours of Ancient Roman and Byzantine Sites

Coordinator: Hal Alexander

This class will be a companion to Mrs. Gandy’s Fall & Winter Roman History classes. We will view ancient Roman pagan temples, forums and public buildings. We will explore early Christian structures and see various relevant Byzantine structures.


Friday Classes—-Alpha Hall Extension Classrooms


1:45—2:45 p.m. Visit Iran: Lessons for Any Tourist

Instructors: Bahram and Lisa Hafizi                            Coordinator: Lady Lester

Where to go, what to see, how to navigate the country, what not to miss, Persian culture.  We will be learning about Iranian history (briefly), the culture, everyday life, arts, and the craftsmanship. Mr. Hafizi is from the city of Esfahan, which is known for its art and beauty. The Hafizis will have many photos for us to see, as well as examples of metal craftsmanship, hand-knotted rugs, miniature paintings, etc.


1:45—2:45 p.m.    Faulkner

Instructors:   USA English Department                         Coordinator: Ken Rettig

This course will examine major short stories and novels by William Faulkner, the Nobel Prize Laureate of 1949. Faulkner was the most significant U.S. writer of the first half of the twentieth-century. He was born in 1897 and died in 1962 and is most associated with Mississippi. Faulkner is credited by many historians and literary scholars with shaping how people in the U.S., as well as abroad, understood the South.  This course will dig into a host of issues, including tensions between the Old and New South; literary modernism and Faulkner's uses of popular genres such as detective fiction; constructions of race and class in the South; Faulkner and World War I; ecology and the South; opportunities and dead ends for women; and the Digital Yoknapatawpha Project.

3:15—4:15 p.m.     Holidays Around the World

Speakers: International Festival                                  Coordinator: Janet Burns

The holiday season can be exhausting.  Relax and celebrate holidays around the world with us.  No work involved, just a fun review of holidays in other countries along with a few treats.  How do our English “cousins” celebrate Christmas? What is Guy Fawkes Day and why do people light bonfires?  Learn about holidays in the Far East and South America.  Listen to Russian folk tales about Christmas. Learn about holidays in Iran and Israel.   Speakers provided by Mobile’s International Festival, Inc.

England January 12

Nepal January 19

Israel January 26

Philippines February 2

Russia February 9

Brazil February 16

Iran February 23

Indonesia March 2


3:15—4:15 p.m.     Southern Battles of the Civil War

Instructor: Mike Bunn                                                        Coordinator: Julie Hart

The Civil War’s “Western Theater,” involving actions primarily in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Kentucky, has traditionally received less attention than more famous “Eastern Theater” campaigns. Yet Western Theater battles played just as important a role in the war’s outcome in both military and political terms. In this course, students will learn about eight critical clashes which helped define the Civil War experience in the areas in which they took place, and gain a better understanding of war in its totality. The course will chronicle actions including the Battle of Shiloh, the battles of Corinth and Iuka, the Vicksburg Campaign, the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign, the Red River Campaign, the Battle of Nashville, and the Campaign for Mobile.




▼   Upcoming Dates & Events
   Winter Classes -- January 10 -- March 2, 2018
   Luncheon Lecture -- March 9, 2018
Spring Classes -- March 21 -- May 11, 2108
    Luncheon Lecture -- May 18, 2018
Summer Classes -- June 6 -- July 13, 2018
    Luncheon Lecture & Annual Meeting -- July 20, 2018
Dog Days Film Festival -- Wednesdays in August, 2018


▼   Odyssey Membership

There are no formal requirements for membership to Odyssey USA other than an interest in being a continuous learner.  You also need not be retired, nor are there any academic or experience requirements. 

As a membership organization, Odyssey charges a Membership Fee rather than registration fees for the courses. Members do pay for the cost of the meal at our Quarterly Luncheon Lectures and for field trips.

Membership rates are:

Annual Membership                                  $110.00 (4 terms)

Semi-Annual Membership:                        $60 (2 terms)

To join, just call us at (251) 460-7200.

▼   Our Quarterly Newsletter

Odyssey’s newsletter, The Log, is published and mailed to members prior to the beginning of each quarter.  It includes descriptions and schedule of upcoming classes, luncheons, and other events.

▼   Meet our Executive Board

Odyssey USA is a membership organization with an Executive Board elected by members to ensure a positive and inquisitive learning environment. The 2016-2017 Officers are:

Carolyn Casteel, President

Mary Frances Hallet, Vice-President

Julie Hart, Secretary

Barbara McLeod, Treasurer

Ron Walker, Curriculum Co-Chair

Hal Alexander, Curriculum Co-Chair

Margaret Gordon, Newsletter Editor

Michael & Lady Lester, Membership & Publicity Chairs

Jane Harding, Telephone Committee Chair

Ginger Hudson, Social Chair

Ron Feuerlein, Director

Andrea Pennington, Director

Jim Beach, Director