University of Wisconsin–Madison

Socrates meets Susan B. Anthony at Odyssey Project’s Night of the Living Humanities

Odyssey Project’s Night of the Living Humanities
Odyssey Project's Night of the Living Humanities
Odyssey alumna Marisol Gonzalez as Frida Kahlo: ‘Let’s not just dream. Let’s make our dreams come true.’ (All photos by Hilary Igl)

You can find Frankenstein’s monster at many Halloween parties, but only at Night of the Living Humanities will he mingle with the likes of Socrates, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony. On Oct. 25, the Odyssey Project’s annual fundraiser encouraged attendees to dress up as political, artistic, and literary figures who play a part in the program’s two-semester humanities course. That explained the greeter at the University Club who, in a spectacularly fluffy and feathery costume, represented Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Offered by University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Studies, the Odyssey course is geared toward low-income adults contending with single parenthood, homelessness, addiction, and other barriers to a college education. They earn six credits in English from UW–Madison, as well as gaining critical thinking skills and a sense of empowerment. Many go on to complete a college degree and find meaningful work in the community.

The growing program also encompasses Odyssey Junior, for children and grandchildren of Odyssey students; Onward Odyssey, which supports alumni; and Odyssey Beyond Bars, which introduces Odyssey course materials to Wisconsin prisons. The new director of Odyssey Beyond Bars is none other than the aforementioned Frankenstein monster, also known as Peter Moreno.

Along with food, drink, jazz standards, and a raffle, Night of the Living Humanities featured inspiring remarks by director Emily Auerbach (a.k.a. Medusa) and other staff and students. Dressed as Frida Kahlo, Odyssey alumna Marisol Gonzalez encapsulated the evening’s theme: “Let’s not just dream. Let’s make our dreams come true.”

If you missed Night of the Living Humanities, check out the scene below. To learn more about the Odyssey Project, see the program website or contact director Emily Auerbach, emily.auerbach@wisc.edu, 608-262-3733. To donate, visit this webpage.