Oberlin Blogs

In Which I Gush about Academia

March 17, 2017

Kira Findling ’19

I love writing blog posts in airports or on planes: it's the perfect time to reflect in a neutral space. This piece comes to you from my first day of spring break, flying in an airplane from Ohio to California! I have to say, this module has been wild. I'm taking four of the most difficult classes I've ever had at Oberlin (more on this below) and therefore spending the majority of my time doing schoolwork. If you know me, you know that that's my ideal situation, so I've been happy in that respect. I also took a first-module yoga class, which was very centering (though surprisingly difficult). Another recent development? I moved across campus! After realizing pretty early on this year that I'd be happiest living in a single, I finally got off the waitlist for a room in Noah a few weeks ago. Though moving all of my stuff across campus was really exhausting, I'm so happy with my new room! I love all the little perks in Noah, like being able to control the heater in my room and being really close to the dining hall. It doesn't hurt that my room has a cute green accent wall too!

Noah Hall
Here's a picture of the outside of Noah! I'd show you my room, but it's way too messy right now! :)

Now, for more on my classes. I'm telling everyone I know lately: this is the hardest group of classes I've ever taken at Oberlin. And I LOVE them. This is the first semester that I haven't had to worry about fulfilling my general course requirements; being done with math and science makes me feel so free! Whew! This semester has affirmed my decision to major in Comparative American Studies - everything I'm studying feels so relevant to my experiences and identity, while being vigorously academic. Being able to read theory that helps me to understand myself and my surroundings more completely has been a striking experience thus far.

Without further ado, here are my Spring 2017 classes!

CAST 447 - Queer Positions with Professor Evangeline Heiliger

This class examines feminist queer disability studies. I'm really happy that I'm taking a class on this topic, as Oberlin hasn't had too many disability studies classes since I've been here (I've heard that Comparative American Studies is conscious of this lack and is working to change it). We've read a lot of incredible literature, including Eli Clare's Exile and Pride, one of my new favorite works. I like to say that this class gives me an existential crisis, because it encourages me to rethink my definitions of identity and queerness. I appreciate that Professor Vange allows us to bring our personal experiences into the classroom to contextualize the readings we do. For my final project, I'm creating an art and writing collection about discourses around unfit motherhood relating to queer and disabled moms. So far, my research has centered around forced sterilization of disabled women and custody cases in which judges claim that lesbians are unfit to take care of kids. Doing this research barely feels like work because it's so compelling and relevant to my experiences and interests.

ANTH 482 - Anthropology of Good Intentions with Professor Crystal Biruk

I'm so obsessed with this class. We're mainly studying issues around global humanitarianism and the ways in which good intentions can go awry. I'm learning a lot about the politics of NGOs and have clarified once and for all a good definition of neoliberalism. This is actually my first anthropology class, so I'm finding my Comparative American Studies background helpful in giving me a theoretical base. It turns out that I'm the only sophomore in a room of seniors, so I consistently feel inspired to push myself. I'm letting go of the nerves that sometimes come along with participating in class discussions and that's been super rewarding. Crystal is an incredibly engaging and passionate teacher who makes every single text fascinating. I'm never bored in this class - the two hours just fly by!

CAST 335 - Latinx Oral Histories with Dean Adrian Bautista

One of the parts of this class that I love most is the community that we've formed. The people in this class are some of the friendliest on campus (in my opinion) and we all wave when we see each other around! I love that! In this class, we study the practice of oral history, as well as histories of Latinx people in Lorain County. I didn't know much about the local Latinx history before this class and am thankful that others are sharing their knowledge about local Latinx institutions and social service agencies. A major component of the class involves conducting an oral history with a local Latinx person, which will be posted on our class website. As a non-Latinx person, I've been thinking a lot about my position as someone outside of that community conducting research. I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Latinx communities in the Oberlin area and to consider how my identity plays into my conversations with others.

CINE 295 - Cinematic Storytelling with Professor Jeff Pence

Finally, I'm back in a writing class! Last semester, I missed having a creative class in my schedule - Cinematic Storytelling is the perfect remedy. In this screenwriting class, there are only eight of us! Every week, we sit around a table and workshop each other's work. Our homework involves watching movies and taking notes on the screenwriting, as well as creating our own work. One of my projects involved collaborating with three other students to write a short webseries - ours was about a teenage girl who happens to be a supervillain! I also recently finished writing a spec script for Bob's Burgers, meaning I planned and wrote my own episode of the series. To be honest, I think my plotline would work (it involves glitter and Tina being in a beauty pageant)! Now we're pitching our final projects, which will be scripts for full-length feature films (wow). This class has thrown me into the world of screenwriting and forced me to take risks and I love it!

As you can see, I'm a happy academic camper this semester... but spring break is much needed! I'm so tired. Right now, I'm thinking about sleep and showers without shoes on and cuddling with my pets - I'll be back to school soon enough!

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