The Oberlin Review

New Pullman Novel Fails to Live Up to Earlier Work

Kirsten Heuring, Staff Writer

March 30, 2018

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

I attended Catholic school for 12 years, and my first act of heresy involved the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. A high fantasy series rooted in the tradition of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the trilogy is set in a parallel world dominated by a powerful theocracy that suppresses dissent and free thought, commonly referred to as the Church. The world is full of wonderful details, like souls that live outside of people’s bodies in animal forms, powerful armored bears, and magic particles that glide and swirl through the air. But the series is also a scathing critique of the Catholic Church, and in 2007, the Catholic League actively campaigned against the first book in the series, The Golden Compass (titled ...

“The Tangled Lands” Explores Feminism, Environmental Justice

Julia Peterson, Arts & Culture Editor

March 2, 2018

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry, Recent Stories

The Tangled Lands, a new dystopian fantasy novel by award-winning authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell, has no right to be as good as it is. Conceptual, morally ambiguous, and incredibly timely, The Tangled Lands explores well-wrought narratives of feminism and environmental justice in a beautifully-crafted fantasy world that drips with rich lore and details at every turn. The Tangled Lands is the first collaboration between these authors, but it is a natural one, as both Bacigalupi and Buckell have been lauded for their fantasy or science-fiction exploration of social justice issues. Bacigalupi in particular has a history of exploring environmental justice in novels like The Water Knife, which is set in a dy...

Japanese Literature Sheds Light on Issues of Violence

Japanese Literature Sheds Light on Issues of Violence

February 23, 2018

The two-day annual conference of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies was themed “Violence, Justice, & Honor in Japan’s Literary Cultures” this year. Panel topics ranged from written Japanese literature, manga comics, gaming, and photography, among various other forms of visual art, all revolving around the theme of violence. “Minds are brutal places,” said Norma Fields, University of Chicago Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor in Japanese Studies and East Asia...

Soul Session Kicks Off Celebration of Black History Month

Soul Session Kicks Off Celebration of Black History Month

February 16, 2018

“A talent show with much more soul.” So described by College sophomore and organizer DaQuan Williams, Soul Sessions is an ABUSUA, Oberlin’s Black Student Union, initiative held in the Lord Lounge of Afrikan Heritage House on select Friday nights. These sessions are a significant part of A-House’s cultural tradition and involve a night of showcasing talent — Black talent in particular. It is a time for the Africana community to gather and celebrate their culture through any medium of the...

Tamora Pierce Pens Triumphant Return to Tortall Universe

Julia Peterson, Arts & Culture Editor

February 16, 2018

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

After a long hiatus and much anticipation, acclaimed fantasy author Tamora Pierce has finally released a new book set in her Tortall universe, Tempests and Slaughter. The book is the first in her long-awaited new series, The Numair Chronicles. Pierce, whose books in the Tortall universe have frequently enjoyed long stays on New York Times bestseller lists and have earned a wide variety of prestigious awards, has proven time and again that her imagination is bound only by the careful structure that she weaves through her writing. Each of her many series is cohesive with and enriched by every other. With Tempests and Slaughter, she breaks away from a number of the patterns that she set in her previous works, offering ch...

OSLAM Poets Present Grand Slam, Select 2018 CUPSI Team

Julia Peterson, Arts & Culture Editor

December 8, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry, Recent Stories

Poets of OSLAM, the College’s slam poetry team, convened for their biggest performance of the semester, the Grand Slam, in Dye Lecture Hall Saturday night. The Slam, which featured performances from ten student poets, was not only a moment to showcase these poets’ work to the wider student community — it was also a competition. The poets were vying for a spot on Oberlin’s College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational team, which will travel to Temple University in Philadelphia this April to compete at the national level. This year’s CUPSI team will be formed by College sophomore Zite Ezeh, College junior Sarah Ridley, and OSLAM co-presidents and College juniors Hanne Williams-Baron and Deborah Johnson. College fi...

Renowned Poet Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib Slams at Cat

Renowned Poet Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib Slams at Cat

November 17, 2017

“I think public affection is one thing that will save us — as long as it’s, you know, consensual with the person who is also down to be publically affectionate with you,” poet, cultural critic, and essayist Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib said Monday. “Please clear that hurdle first.” Willis-Abdurraqib, who has been published by The New York Times, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The Fader, as well as poetry journals such as Muzzle, Vinyl, and PEN American, writes about grief, joy, and heartbrea...

Oberlin Professor Unveils Critically Acclaimed Novel

Oberlin Professor Unveils Critically Acclaimed Novel

October 27, 2017

Editor’s note: This article contains mention of drug use, murder, and cancer. Dan Chaon, Delaney Professor of Creative Writing, read from his latest novel, the dark, cunning Ill Will, and fielded questions as part of the Friends of the Oberlin College Libraries’ series on Wednesday night. In Ill Will, Chaon plays with perspective, form, and genre, earning a glowing review from The Washington Post which described it as “the scariest novel of the year.” In person, what came through especial...

Safia Elhillo Delivers Sharp, Candid Poetry Performance

Ananya Gupta, Arts and Culture Editor

September 15, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

“As usual, I was thinking about race; I wrote a poem.” said Sudanese-American performance poet Safia Elhillo as she delivered her sassy wit in a soothing voice last Friday at the Cat in the Cream. Author of the full-length poetry collection The January Children, Elhillo is an acclaimed slam poet who has performed at the South African State Theatre, the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway, and at TEDxNewYork, and has competed nationally with the New York University collegiate championship slam poetry team and the DC Youth Slam Poetry Team. Having earned accolades including the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize (co-winner) and the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, Elhillo, though young, is truly...

Oberlin Alum Explores Family, Food, Humanity in Memoir

Oberlin Alum Explores Family, Food, Humanity in Memoir

September 15, 2017

In his new book Heavy: An American Memoir, Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi, Kiese Laymon, OC ’98, discusses his “family’s relationship to food, sexual violence, and weight.” Heavy explores Laymon’s interpretation of the lessons he learned as a child from his mother and grandmother, and the role of language as a powerful protective force for Black folks in white spaces. Last Monday, Oberlin was fortunate enough to host Professor Laymon for a ...

Second-Person Prevails in Pagel’s Occult, Political Poetry

Second-Person Prevails in Pagel’s Occult, Political Poetry

May 5, 2017

There is something haunting about Caryl Pagel’s poetry — and it’s not just the gravestones that frequently appear in her work. Pagel’s writing is heavily steeped in the occult and references to Gothic literature, which she weaves into poetry that is both lyrical and feminist. In addition to having authored two collections of poetry, 2014’s Twice Told and 2012’s Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death, Pagel is also the co-founder and editor of Rescue Press, a poetry editor at j...

Trump Administration Threatens Oberlin Arts Funding

Trump Administration Threatens Oberlin Arts Funding

March 10, 2017

Before President Trump took office in late January, multiple publications reported that his transition team had begun compiling a list of federal programs to eliminate in an effort to trim domestic spending. According to The New York Times, that list is expected to be finalized by the Office of Management and Budget next week as part of the President’s first federal budget proposal. According to ABC News, the forthcoming budget draws heavily on budget outlines produced by the Heritage Foundation,...

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