Instructor of Record: Associate Dean Laura Baudot
Tuesdays, 6:30–8:30 p.m. EDT

Week 1: Tuesday, June 9

Lecturer: Josh Sperling, Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and Creative Writing

Call Me by Your Name, dir. Luca Guadagnino (2017).

When did youth — the window between childhood and adulthood — come to represent a special period of freedom, exploration, sexual awakening and self-discovery? What do stories about this time reveal about our culture as a whole? This introductory lecture will set up the central questions of the course, placing them in the history of the bildungsroman, and testing them against the story of Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old American living with his parents in Northern Italy. What can we learn from a summer fling? What is the meaning of a sentimental education?

Week 2: Tuesday, June 16

Lecturer: William Patrick Day ’71, Professor of English and Cinema Studies

American Graffiti, dir. George Lucas (1973).

The “surprise Hit of 1973,” American Graffiti circulated as a coming-of-age comedy with a strongly nostalgic bent. At the same time, it is a historical movie with a surprisingly dark subtext rife with historical ironies. The movie plays on the fact that its audience both remembers the era it portrays but also knows what is coming after August of 1962 (the outbreak of the Vietnam War and the Kennedy assassination). How does coming-of-age comedy help the American moving-going public face the complexities of history? How do personal narratives of change reverberate with national crises?

Week 3: Tuesday, June 23

Lecturer: Leah Vonderheide, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies

Clueless, dir. Amy Heckerling (1995).

Is Clueless a satire or celebration of teen drama? Why does mid-nineties Beverly Hills provide such a suitable setting for an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma? Is the comedic coming-of-age tale of Cher Horowitz a deconstruction, reconstruction, or re-affirmation of classical Hollywood storytelling?

Week 4: Tuesday, June 30

Lecturer: Grace An, Associate Professor of French and Cinema Studies

Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows), dir. François Truffaut (1959).

This poster-film of the French New Wave captured the energy of a group of young filmmakers whom film historians and critics have celebrated for reinventing film art and culture. How might we read The 400 Blows as a coming-of-age story, both for its beloved protagonist Antoine Doinel and for cinema? Given that France was still in reconstruction almost fifteen years after World War II, what is the significance of Truffaut’s interest in rebellion, crime, and creativity? The title refers to the experience of being submitted  to numerous life challenges on a daily basis, and the film offers an opportunity to learn how cinema can help us respond, as suggested by Truffaut himself.

Week 5: Tuesday, July 7

Lecturer: Charles Peterson, Associate Professor of Africana Studies

Bande de Filles (Girlhood), dir. Céline Sciamma (2014).

The experiences of second and third generation African immigrants to France challenge the assumptions of their parent’s generation. In the face of the challenges of racism, poverty, and social marginalization, under these new circumstances, central character Marieme and her group of friends attempt to craft their own ideas of meaning and identity as they grow into adulthood.

Week 6: Tuesday, July 14

Lecturer: Jeff Pence ’88, Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies

Beasts of the Southern Wild, dir. Benh Zeitlin (2012).

Coming-of-age stories tend to naturalize certain movements — from innocence to experience, or fantasy to reality, say — as dramas of choice. After facing numerous challenges, young selves consent to the terms of socially acceptable adulthood, often validating a social order they originally seemed set against. Such narratives are not as universal as they seem. What elements come together to create narratives of self that embrace alternative bases for identity? This post-Katrina film, specifically, asks us to think about the connection between catastrophe and childhood in new ways.

Week 7: Tuesday, July 21

Lecturer: Rian Brown-Orso, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies (round table discussion moderated by Leah Vonderheide, Josh Sperling, and Geoff Pingree)

Into the Scrum, dir. Rian Brown-Orso (2012). 19min.

Presence of Water, dir. Rian Brown-Orso (1999). 28min.

Week 8: Tuesday, July 28

Lecturer: Geoff Pingree, Professor of Cinema Studies and English (round table discussion moderated by Josh Sperling, Leah Vonderheide, and Rian Brown)

The Return of Elder Pingree — Memoir of a Departed Mormon, dir. Geoff Pingree (2020)

This film tells two parallel coming of age stories — the first, when I went to Guatemala as a devout, nineteen-year old missionary; the second, when I returned as a non-believer twenty-five years later, in search of the Guatemalans who once trusted me with their religious faith. Though specific to my family and religion, the film charts a universal struggle for self-knowledge and self-acceptance. It is about searches that are never fulfilled, yearnings that cannot be sustained, and certainties plagued and then nourished by doubt. It is about how to make sense of and take responsibility for our impact on other people. And it is about what happens to human relationships as time passes and peoples’ hearts and minds change.

Instructor of Record: Associate Dean Elizabeth Hamilton
Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:30–7:30 p.m. EDT

Week 1: Monday, June 8 and Wednesday June 10

Lecture: “Transitioning from high school to college writing,” with Cortney Smith and Hal Sundt, Visiting Assistant Professors in Rhetoric and Composition, and discussion with Writing Associates.

Perhaps the most significant transition from high-school to college writing begins with how we think. In much of your writing at Oberlin, you will be asked to not merely demonstrate comprehension of your course’s texts or topics, but in fact arrive at new understandings of your subjects. This means your essays need to begin by identifying what is uncertain or unknown about your subject. It’s this uncertainty that serves as the impetus for any essay worth reading, the question that demands to be answered, the weird thing about a text or topic that only becomes more strange or seemingly contradictory the more you think about it. After all, why would we read an essay that only regurgitates what is already known about a subject, or tirelessly tries to prove the same point over and over again? But an essay that attempts to answer a genuine question? Now that’s an essay worth reading!

Week 2: Monday, June 15 and Wednesday, June 17

Lecture: “Discovering your own intellectual process,” with Professor Sundt and discussion with Writing Associates.

It can be daunting to approach writing as a process of a discovery. After all, it means we have to develop comfort swimming in the uncertainty of our own thoughts! This week we’ll examine a few short essays to see how other writers manage this challenge and then craft essays that in fact dramatize their intellectual process on the page. We’ll also begin workshopping what we’d like to write for the course.

Week 3: Monday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 24

Lecture: “Writer-Based Prose,” with Professor Sundt and discussion with Writing Associates.

E.M. Forster once asked, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” Indeed, one way to discover novel insights about a subject is to utilize writing as a mode of thinking — that is, not to approach writing as a place to demonstrate what you already know, but in fact to begin writing precisely at the moment when you are confused, and to write your way out of that confusion! While your initial draft will likely be messy and not something you would ever turn into a professor, it is far from useless. In fact, this initial draft, which is called “Writer-Based Prose” (i.e. writing for the writer and no one else) is a tremendously valuable thing — a low stakes opportunity to test your thinking and uncover new ideas. This week we’ll explore how to utilize writing as a mode of thinking effectively and practice it a bit ourselves.

Week 4: Monday, June 29 and Wednesday, July 1

Lecture: “Reader-Based Prose,” with Professor Sundt and discussion with Writing Associates.

Ok, so we’ve put pen to paper and utilized writing as a mode of thinking. What comes next? While our thoughts may seem clear to us (though I know it takes me 4-5 drafts to figure out what I really think!), they likely won’t appear that way to our reader. So how do we transition from Writer-Based Prose to Reader-Based prose? This week we will explore how to begin an essay in a way that invites an unfamiliar reader to keep reading and how to structure an argument in a manner that is clear and engaging. We’ll also demystify the ever-elusive concept of “flow” in writing.

Week 5: Monday, July 6 and Wednesday, July 8

Lecture: “Importance of revising,” with Dr. Smith and discussion with Writing Associates.

For any writer, the role of revision is both a daunting and exciting moment. This is the opportunity for you to look critically at what you’ve written. Revision is about exploring if what you’ve written is really worth saying? Does it say what you want it to say? And will a reader understand what you’re saying? As part of the writing process, revision is more than hitting “spell check” on your computer.

Week 6: Monday, July 13 and Wednesday, July 15

Lecture: “Never forget your audience,” with Dr. Smith and discussion with Writing Associates.

How would you write an email to your best friend? Would it be different from how you would write to your grandmother? And how would both of these be different from an email addressed to your professor? This is a way of saying that the audience matters. Keeping your audience in mind will help you make decisions on what material to include, how to organize ideas, and how to shape your argument.

Week 7: Monday, July 20 and Wednesday, July 22

Lecture: “Transitioning from writing to speaking,” with Dr. Smith and discussion with Writing Associates.

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”-Jerry Seinfeld, comedien. Seinfeld’s joke is not inaccurate - studies show people greatly fear public speaking. Now that we have explored the writing process, we are going to tackle how to transfer this knowledge to speaking. What are the communicative similarities (and differences) between writing and speaking?

Week 8: Monday, July 27 and Wednesday, July 29

Lecture: “The role of self-reflection,” with Professor Sundt and Dr. Smith and discussion with Writing Associates.

Self-reflection enables us to process and make meaning of the learning and work we have completed. Careful introspection can result in a more productive level of self-awareness. What are your overall thoughts about your final project? What do you think went well? What do you think you need to improve upon? What were some of the most interesting discoveries?

Instructor of Record: Associate Dean Daphne John
Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30–7:30 p.m. EDT

Week 1: Monday, June 8 and Wednesday June 10

Lecturer: Jack Calcut, Associate Professor of Mathematics

“Understanding Patterns and Making Predictions: Sequences, functions, and averages”: We will focus on understanding when numbers may or may not indicate patterns or associations, what functions are and how we use them to measure and predict, and the varied meanings and calculations of averages. Students will add data to a collective spreadsheet and make predictions and calculate averages based on this data set.

Week 2: Monday, June 15 and Wednesday, June 17

Lecturer: Nancy Darling, Professor of Psychology

“Using Excel and Google Sheets – Summative and Predictive Models”: Equations provide simplified models that can help us represent and understand the world. We will begin by discussing equations as models and move from a metaphor of social class, to writing a story, to building algorithms within Excel to help us better understand how social class operates within societies.

Week 3: Monday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 24

Lecturer: Monica Mariani, Visiting Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

“How to Read a Graph; Means and Distributions”: We will begin with a quick background describing the basic biology of a virus, specific COVID virus biology, and about how the immune system fights a virus. Next, we will read and interpret different COVID related graphs (daily average positive counts, death rates, etc.) and talk about the meaning of “flatten the curve.” Concepts such as distribution, bell curves, means, and exponential growth will be covered as well as the importance of study design and accurate data representation.

Week 4: Monday, June 29 and Wednesday, July 1

Lecturer: Roger Laushman, Associate Professor of Biology

“Weather and Climate Patterns using Global and Local Data”: We will analyze data and employ such techniques as Box and whisker plots, correlation, regression, and averages vs. extremes.

Week 5: Monday, July 6 and Wednesday, July 8

Lecturer: Michael Parkin, Professor of Politics

“Political Polling”: We will discuss survey design and analysis of data from means and cross tabs to multiple regression. Measurement issues, question format, survey design (phone, online), analysis and presentation of results (campaigns, media) also will be covered.

Week 6: Monday, July 13 and Wednesday, July 15

Lecturer: Christopher Howard, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

“Building an Argument in a Science Framework”: This week will provide more discussion of introductory statistics, examine the ways neuroscientists understand addiction by examining neurons before and after drug exposure; and also provide an “Introduction to Scientific Writing: Communicating Findings in Abstracts”.

Week 7: Monday, July 20 and Wednesday, July 22

Lecturer: Ron Cheung, Professor of Economics

“Predicting Property Value”: We will have students think of the home values in their hometown. Why do they differ so much from neighborhood to neighborhood? We will build a model to explain how much accessibility to downtown, to water, to transit is worth. Topics explored: lines of best fit, linear and log-linear models, prediction, variable choice.

Week 8: Monday, July 27 and Wednesday, July 29

Lecturer: Franne Kamhi, Visiting Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

“Reading and Interpreting Scientific Publications”: Scientific papers are the building blocks of scientific research. Using the skills developed throughout the rest of the course, we will discuss how to read and interpret scientific papers through an interactive exercise.

Lecturers: Clara Margaret Flood, Instructor and Lab Manager in Geology and Daphne John, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Sociology

“Looking ahead-GIS and social data mapping”: In the last lecture in this course we will demonstrate mapping techniques used to visualize and analyze data across disciplines and discuss the variety of options for continued exploration of quantitative skills and research at Oberlin College.

Instructor of Record: Associate Professor of Music Theory Joseph Lubben
Weekly workshop times: Wednesdays 8-9 p.m., Thursdays 8-9 a.m., or Thursdays 8-9 p.m.

Weekly Video

The Music Theory Jumpstart course will begin each week with a pre-recorded video.  The video will be made available each Sunday at 11:59 pm EDT (US Eastern Daylight Time). A viewing link will be sent to all students at the time of posting. All students are expected to view the video within 24 hours of posting.

Weekly Live Workshop

Each student will be expected to attend one live workshop per week. The workshops will be held at the following times (all US  EDT):

  • Wednesdays 8:00-9:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays 8:00-9:00 a.m.
  • Thursdays 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Students should sign up for a specific time, and will be expected to attend the same time each week.

Additional Materials and Assignments

Additional instructional material and assignments will be delivered through  Students who took the Theory Placement test during the Admissions process have been placed into a uTheory course section called “Music Theory Jumpstart.” You should go to and verify that you are enrolled in this section. All others should enroll by following this link.


Course information will be housed in the Blackboard learning management system. All students have access to the material through their username and password. Please verify that you are able to sign in to Blackboard and that you have access to the course.

Instructor of Record: Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology Kathryn Metz
July 7 - July 30; Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 noon EDT (synchronous lectures that will be recorded and posted online as well)

Class Information

Class information, which includes zoom link, syllabus, readings, schedule, playlists, etc., is located on Google Classrooms. Contact Prof. Metz ( for the class code.

Class Description

The 1970s saw a dramatic shift in styles, technologies, and consumption of popular music. The rock industry coalesced while genres splintered, pushing listeners into marketable boxes. In the course, students will uncover the layers of political, social, and cultural shifts in the 1970s that continue to shape and reshape rock and roll and its branches. We will explore hip-hop, prog rock, electronic rock and synth pop, glam, arena rock, disco, soul, R&B, punk, and more. Artists pushed technological innovations as they often eschewed popularity for the sake of their music. Meanwhile, genres re-segregated often along racial lines, producing hotly contested releases that sometimes garnered dramatic critical reception.

Class Schedule

Week 1:
How did we get here? Genres splinter as the rock industry explodes

Week 2:
Punk / Metal / Prog: Classism, Racism, Virtuosity, Marginalization

Week 3:
Disco / Afro-futurism / Hip-hop: Racism, Innovation, Survival, Resistance

Week 4:
Glam / Singer-Songwriters / Electronic: Gender, Technology, Invention, Exploration

Note: We cannot and will not cover every genre and artist from the 1970s, and your favorite artist may be left out. This is our chance to understand what the underpinnings of a resegregation of sound meant for new generations of listeners.

Introduction to the Class