While perusing the ExCo course catalog for this semester, I could not believe my eyes when I happened across one ExCo in particular (for those who don’t know, ExCos are courses taught by students, which you can take for credit). There are plenty of great ExCos offered every semester: a campus favorite seems to be SwiftCo, others I’ve heard about include: DeceptionCo, BeatlesCo, BadMoviesCo, and more. But this semester there was a new addition to the SciFi category-- Doctor Who Co!
As a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, this was very exciting news to me. I’ve also never taken an ExCo before, so it seemed like the perfect one to start with. I applied and decided to take it for credit-- mostly so I could tell everyone I know I was taking a class on Doctor Who for actual credit, because that’s so cool! I also took great joy in telling my parents that my childhood obsession with the show was finally going to be useful for something. Their response was that it was the most Oberlin thing they’d ever heard and this was definitely the right school for me (accurate).
The cool thing about ExCos is that they can take topics that don’t seem academic at first glance and extract the most intellectual and interesting aspects in order to create a course that is the perfect integration of stimulating discussion and fun community. At first, I was a bit skeptical of how a curriculum could be extracted from this extremely campy television show. But a couple months in, I can say that it’s fascinating. There are so many parts of this show that go far beyond the surface and provide relevant social commentary, but which I hadn’t actively studied before. We’re talking about the history of British television, political statements the show has made with its long-running themes of anti-war and anti-violence, complex character arcs, and how different forms of media engage with fandom. Weekly homework for the class is to watch an episode from a list that relates to the next discussion topic, so it’s very easy to fit in without additional stress. Even the written assignments are super fun: for the midterm I wrote a 6-page psychoanalysis of Amelia Pond. It’s also just a fun excuse to watch Doctor Who with friends instead of doing my other assignments.