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Distinguished Lecture Series

The Annual Distinguished Lecture Series is a series of six monthly lectures on topics of interest by recognized experts.  These lectures are held October through March and are free and open to the public. Registration is requested so that we can plan for seating and refreshments.

Various other arts and cultural-related lectures and activities are offered throughout the year.  See Upcoming Events for more information.

Discover, Gulf Shores AL

Do you have a passion for learning? Discover offers a variety of courses designed to provide accessible opportunities to continue learning in retirement and to meet other members of the community. Courses are typically three sessions long and meet for one and half hours each time. The fee for each course is just $35.

Odyssey USA, Mobile AL

Odyssey USA: An Adventure in Learning 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.



▼   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 please click the Enroll Now button above or call us at (251) 460-7200 to have a membership form mailed to you. 

▼   Upcoming Events

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.


Fall Classes:              September 26, 2018 - November 16, 2018

Winter Classes:         January 9, 2019  - March 1, 2109

Spring Classes:         March 20, 2019 - May 10, 2019

Luncheon:                 December 7, 2018

                                  March 8, 2019

                                  May 17, 2019

▼   Wednesday Classes: USA Marx Library

Wednesday Classes: January 9 - March 1


Gothic Art History

1:30p - 2:30p

Instructor: Mrs. Gandy

Coordinator: Ginger Hudson

Mrs. Gandy will continue her series on Western European Art History. In this quarter, she will cover the development of Medieval Art and its flowering with the soaring cathedrals and beautiful stained glass windows of the Gothic period.


Southern Writers: Flannery O’Conner and Her Kin                           2:45p - 3:45p

Instructor: Rev. Jim Flowers

Coordinator: Mary Beth Allison 

We will read principally selected short stories of Flannery O’ Conner, and we will read Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece Child of God. Both of these southern writers belong to the genre of “Southern Gothic” in that they are adept at depicting the beauty and poignancy of life, not forgetting its mysterious dark side. Both O’Conner and McCarthy are Roman Catholics living in exile, as it were, in the protestant South.  Both recognize the sacramental nature of beauty and its relationship to violence. Their writing is as fine as any produced among American letters.


▼    Friday Classes: Alpha Hall Extension

Friday Classes: January 9 - March 1


DeSoto to Statehood                                      

1:45 - 2:45     

Instructors: Various Speakers

Coordinator: Ken Rettig

Alabama’s storied colonial era - spanning nearly three centuries and featuring periods of French, British, and Spanish dominions - is one of its most colorful but least understood historical epochs. The array of explorers, forts, and forgotten wars for empire which are associated with the era can easily be confusing and the timeline of this historical pageant a bit difficult to grasp. Join historian Mike Bunn and other special guests for a unique course piecing together the sequence of events in this eventful time period and bringing to light its major people, places, and events.

  • Jan. 11 Hernando De Soto and Alabama’s Early Colonial Explorations
  • Jan. 18 Alabama as Heart of French Louisiana
  • Jan. 25 The Man With the Iron Hand: Mobile’s Henri De Tonti (Dr. Rebecca Williams, University of South Alabama)
  • Feb. 1 Mobile’s Changing Flags (Scott Corcoran, History Museum of Mobile)
  • Feb. 8 Pascagoula’s Krebs House: The Gulf Coast’s Oldest Colonial Structure (Marks Wixon, La-Pointe-Krebs House and Museum)


Shades of Edgar Allan Poe

1:45 - 2:45       

Instructor: Dr. Cesarini, et al. 

Coordinator: Ginger Hudson

In this course, instructors from USA's Department of English will meet weekly to discuss a variety of work by this originator of the Weird in literature. Becky McLaughlin will conjure with the unconscious and the unbearable in "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "William Wilson"; Dr. Chris Raczkowski will clue us in to Poe's seminal detective fiction; Justin St. Clair will turn our ears to Poe's obsessive sounds in "The Tell-Tale Heart"; Chris Cowley will explore the wild history behind "The Man That Was Used Up"; Pat Cesarini and others will also cover Poe's sea story, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, as well as other tales, plus Poe's essays and poetry. Weekly readings will be provided in advance. 


Seniors Planning for the Future

3:15 - 4:15     

Speaker: Various Speakers

Coordinator: Janet Burnes

This course will walk you through the myriad of decisions and legalities seniors face while preparing for the future.  It will provide information needed to make responsible decisions for our loved ones and ourselves.

Local attorney E. Russell (Barney) March III will spend four sessions  explaining Alabama law and legal documents including Wills, Power of Attorney, Health Directives, etc. “Teg” Marston with Magnolia Cemetery will answer questions about interment and final arrangements.

Many of us will move to a smaller residence in the future. Sheri Wright with Caring Transitions will talk with us about “right sizing,” and what to do with items collected over a lifetime. Dealing with imposed change is stressful and can lead to depression and other health issues. We will spend on hour discussing mental health in seniors and another learning to recognize and treat immediate/emergency health needs.


Aquatic Life of Alabama

3:15 - 4:15       

Speaker: Various Speakers

Coordinator:  Jean Golden

  • Jan. 11  Alligators and Reptiles - Michael Dorie 
  • Jan. 18  Manatees - Dr. Ruth Carmichael
  • Jan. 25  Aquatic Amphibians - Steven Carey
  • Feb. 1   Fish - Charles Chester
  • Feb. 8   Turtles, Oysters and Birds - Mark Berte


▼   Board of Directors

Odyssey USA is a membership organization with an Executive Board elected by members to ensure a positive and inquisitive learning environment.

The 2018-2019 Officers are:

Mike Lester, President

Kitty Emery, Vice-President

Meg Cosby, Secretary

Joan Hoffman, Treasurer

Janet Burns, Curriculum Co-Chair

Hal Alexander, Curriculum Co-Chair

Rose Wells, Newsletter Editor

Lady Lester, Membership & Publicity Chairs

Jane Harding, Telephone Committee Chair

Ginger Hudson, Social Chair

Beverly Vann, Director

Mary Frances Hallett, Director

Earl McLaughlin, Director