There should be some Schubert thing [at Oberlin]," David Breitman recalled musing as he anticipated the 200th anniversary of composer Franz Schubert's birthday, which the music world is celebrating this year. And as Steven Huff put it, "the timing seemed right from the cosmic vantage point."
This semester Breitman's "Schubert thing" blossomed into a course called Text and Music in Schubert's Lieder. Cross listed as Historical Performance 202 in the Conservatory and German 322 in the College, it's one of 45 new courses Oberlin is offering this year.
Breitman, assistant professor of historical performance in the Conservatory of Music, and Huff, associate professor of German in the College of Arts and Sciences, are teaching the course collaboratively. They will help students examine Schubert's songs from the viewpoints of the music and the poetry. Students will also learn which poets Schubert chose to set, and why. In-class performances and recordings will help them explore musical interpretation.
Oberlin offers new courses every academic year. Some are taught only once, many of them by visiting professors eager to share knowledge of their specialty. Others are the shakedown cruises for classes destined to become future old favorites. All extend the reach of Oberlin's collective intellect.
"These courses give continuing vitality to our curriculum, as professors introduce cutting-edge material that keeps Oberlin abreast of the fast-changing world of knowledge," said Clayton Koppes, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Many of these courses break disciplinary boundaries and put together ideas from disparate fields--in some cases from areas of study scarcely imagined a decade ago."
Here are some of the other new courses Oberlin is offering this year.
Climate Change: Causes and Consequences, an environmental-studies course, will give a physical explanation of global change and explore the consequences of such change to natural systems and human society. Teaching the course will be David Benzing, Danforth Professor of Biology; Lynn Fisher, visiting instructor of anthropology; David Orr, professor of environmental studies and politics; and Bruce Simonson and Steven Wojtal, both professors of geology.
Last semester Visiting Assistant Professor of History Benson Tong taught three new courses: Gay and Lesbian History, Survey of Native American History, and The U.S. West--which looked at the intersection of region, race, class, and gender. This semester Tong is teaching Colloquium in Asian-American History.
In the sociology department Visiting Assistant Professor Linda Vo is teaching five new courses. Last semester she taught Contemporary Asian-American Experience, Immigration and Population of the U.S., and the seminar Asian-American Women. This semester she is teaching Sociology of Asian-American Communities and Street Smarts: Ethnographic Explorations of Urban America--in which students will learn ethnographic research methods by reading ethnographic studies and discussing theoretical, ethical, and empirical debates.
The interplay of mathematics with philosophy, the arts, and the social sciences is the central theme of Exploring the Realm of Modern Mathematics. Assistant Professor Daniel King leads the class as it examines significant but elementary topics in mathematics, including symmetry in art and nature, game theory, linear programming, coding theory, descriptive statistics, and combinatorics.
Robert Young, professor of mathematics, is teaching a new advanced seminar, the Historical Development of the Calculus. The focus is on original mathematical sources, and Phil Davis, award-winning author of The Mathematical Experience and emeritus professor of mathematics at Brown University, will conduct several of the classes.
Three of the English department's new classes explore some aspect of nature. Last semester Professor David Young taught Literature, Wilderness, and the Human; and Visiting Assistant Professor Augusta Rohrbach taught Place, Race, and Genre, which analyzed how writers of the Local Color Tradition posited a relationship between the land and the body as a way to work through ethnic and racial difference, and postulated a national narrative. This semester Assistant Professor Scott McMillin is teaching Nature Writing in America. While studying representative texts, McMillin's students will also cultivate their ability to understand and write about nature.
--Linda K. Grashoff
Return to the ATS-April 1997 Table of Contents