Arts & Culture: A Year in “Review”

This article appears as part of a series in which the Review’s graduating editors reflect on how their sections have evolved, the biggest stories of the year, and their time at the paper as a whole. The rest of this series can be found here.

This year, the Arts & Culture section chronicled Oberlin’s lively and unique creative scene, surveying what matters to Obies from a thriving fall semester to an unexpectedly remote spring. Aly Fogel, a College fourth-year and English major, began her tenure as an Arts & Culture Editor this past September and approached the position with specific goals. 

“I think it’s really cool to be able to represent not only, ‘Oh, this event happened,’ but ‘What is Oberlin really like? What are the people here like?’ and document that through different [stories],” Fogel said.

One of Fogel’s first pieces, (“A Look Behind the Scenes: Choreographing Physical Intimacy,” Sept. 13, 2019), tackled questions of consent within the artistic practice by examining the increased prevalence of intimacy directors in theater and film, and their relevance to theater programs at Oberlin. A performer herself, she had been uncomfortable with the way that some directors had approached intimate scenes in shows that she had performed in. In her reporting for the piece, she had many vulnerable conversations with students and faculty on this issue. 

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“I tried to capture that nuance in the article while also celebrating that, [for example, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance] Holly [Handman-Lopez] has been doing great work with intimacy coordinating for a long time and she’s way ahead of the curve,” Fogel said. “In the article, I was trying to capture [that in some] Oberlin shows people are still uncomfortable, but in other areas we are ahead of the curve, as you would assume from this uber-liberal institution.” 

The fall semester saw other exciting pieces delving into Oberlin culture, like “In Bittersweet Move, House of the Lord Fellowship Finds New Space,” Dec. 13, 2019, a story about a local congregation’s relocation; “‘Odysseans’ Bond Over Unique First-Year Seminar Experience,” Dec. 13, 2019, about a class that stayed in touch over four years; and “‘Rocky Horror’ Brings Weirdness to Campus for the Tenth Year,” Oct. 11, 2019, an article about the annual performance of the cult favorite at Oberlin. 

Fogel’s piece “Secrets From Seventeen Years of Long Island Night,” Oct. 4, 2019, explored Oberlin culture in a light-hearted way. Fogel decided that pursuing a piece about the history of Long Island Night at The Five, a beloved Oberlin haunt, would put a light-hearted spin on local coverage and also paint a genuine picture of Oberlin’s life. She spoke with Five owners and employees, as well as with a former boss and Oberlin alumnus who connected her with more alumni eager to share Five stories. 

“I also thought it would be cool if we could do pieces that get at the culture of Oberlin as a city and campus because Oberlin has such a strong culture,” she said.

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