On February 16, 2020, The Daily Princetonian officially relaunched The Prospect, dedicating the section to highlighting arts, culture, and self-reflection. When it was first established, The Prospect was envisioned as “The Street,” a weekly addition to the Friday print issue that detailed arts-and-culture-related events happening over the weekend and following week. Under the 142nd Managing Board, Editor-In-Chief Marcia Brown ’19 reimagined, re-branded, and renamed the section as an online-only platform, but content from the section dwindled until its revivification at the start of this year. Little did we at the ‘Prince’ know that less than a month later, campus events would be canceled and campus culture would live online, leaving students with much to reflect upon as we entered the COVID-19 pandemic.

While 2020 has brought much stagnation, loss, and sorrow, The Prospect has responded to a remarkable year with remarkable growth. Beyond the significant expansion of our coverage and staff and the launch of our newsletter Intersections, we have responded to the needs of the University community by reimagining the stories told in our newspaper and the voices featured there. Through articles published in The Prospect since February, we can track the shifting focus of a student body reacting to an unprecedented year. As you look back at 2020 through the stories of The Prospect, we hope you find your own anxieties and hopes reflected, too.

—Paige Allen ’21

Feb. 20

The bittersweet paradox of ‘Parasite’ and the Oscars

The week after “Parasite” swept the 2020 Oscars with four wins, becoming the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Movies offered Princeton students the opportunity to watch the film at the Princeton Garden Theatre. In this piece, staff writer Cameron Lee critiques the effects of neoliberal capitalism on the global film industry, attributing the success of “Parasite” at the Oscars to cultural imperialism, and ultimately, Westernization. Informed by her Korean American heritage, the piece also provides moments of personal reflection, as Lee notes the significance of the Oscar win in her own life and the Asian American community at large. Part film criticism and part self-reflection, the piece maintains a tension between the thrill of the historic performance of “Parasite” at the Oscars and the harrowing implications of globalization and Westernization on cinema, and serves to exemplify the flexibility and range of topics and essay genres covered by The Prospect.

—Paige Allen ’21

Feb. 25

USG Movie Review: The Social Network

In a year full of upheaval, few traditions have endured — high-quality reporting from the ‘Prince’ is one of them; the weekly USG Movie is another. Prospect Associate Editor Sreesha Ghosh’s review of “The Social Network,” the 2010 biopic about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, combines both. Ghosh ruminates on how the film’s lyrical dialogue inspired her to pursue screenwriting, highlighting the standout performances of Andrew Garfield, Jesse Eisenberg, and Rooney Mara as they embraced screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s “whip-smart dialogue.” Even after USG Movies shifted online (like most things on our campus), writers from across The Prospect have continued to write thoughtful, reflective criticism on what these films mean to them.

—Jack Allen ’21

Mar. 25

In photos: A campus deserted

Hours before the evacuation deadline that sent the vast majority of Princetonians back to their childhood bedrooms, into friends’ homes, or to hastily-rented accommodations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Head Multimedia Editor Mark Dodici compiled this photo essay in one of The Prospect’s first multimedia stories. The spaces he captures are familiar, yet alien: once-bustling campus eateries lie empty, while the great Gothic structures of Old Nassau are tinged with a dull, grey hue. Dodici’s photographs of a campus in flight stand in sharp juxtaposition to pictures contributed by ‘Prince’ staff of the rituals so many of us hold dear: celebrations in the University Chapel to mark matriculation, the pastel explosion of Lawnparties, editorial meetings in the newsroom, and even the simple act of strolling about campus with a coffee in hand and a friend beside.

—Jack Allen ’21

April 9

Quarantine and chill: Prospect recommendations, week one

This was the first installment of our quarantine recommendations series. Inspired by The New York Times T List, The Prospect launched this collaborative project that included recommendations from both writers and editors. The idea behind the series was to recommend forms of entertainment for Princeton students to enjoy, as many of them unexpectedly found themselves back home with little to do, as well as to build a sense of community within the section. The Prospect in Spring 2020 was still a small cohort of enthusiastic writers and editors who were finding their footing, and the recommendations series became a fun project that everyone could become involved with. This first installment was about shows to stream, and the range of series that our staff recommended accurately reflects the diverse interests of The Prospect at large. From the lewd, animated humor of “Big Mouth” to the insanely popular, meme worthy plot twists in “Tiger King,” our staff brought unique perspectives to the piece, and, in doing so, really put The Prospect back on the map.

—Auhjanae McGee ’23

Jun. 30

The two faces of Dayton police

However distant the national news can often seem, this year saw two of the biggest stories take on an unavoidable local dimension. Winter saw the coronavirus spread from the coasts across the country, leaving no community untouched. Then, spring saw the Black Lives Matter movement blossom with renewed vigor from the Midwest across the world, beckoning thousands upon thousands of people to take to the streets. In the midst of all this, podcast producer Katie Heinzer published an account of her hometown’s relationship with its police force in The Prospect. This piece and a Dispatch by senior columnist Julia Chaffers highlight the very personal reach this year’s biggest crises have had. Within the span of a year, Heinzer saw Dayton’s police go from being heroes in the aftermath of a mass shooting to using violent force against her own community. In telling this story with The Prospect, Heinzer contributed a very thoughtful piece that fulfills The Prospect’s mission of sharing community members’ own experiences.

—José Pablo Fernández García ’23

Jul. 30

Anti-Racist Reading Review: Between the World and Me

In light of the Black Lives Matter protests of the spring and summer, The Prospect launched a new project: the Anti-Racist Reading Reviews. Though just one part of anti-racist activism, reading Black authors helped people across the country engage with the movement. The series featured reviews of and reflections on anti-racist texts and works by Black writers. The works were drawn from the Anti-Racist Reading List compiled by Lauren Johnson ’21, Ashley Hodges ’21, and the USG Anti-Racism Book Initiative. This review was the inaugural one for the series, written by Head Features Editor Alex Gjaja, on “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. She dives deep into Coates’ talent for rendering the costs of racism both poetically and powerfully, wrestling with both unbearable trauma and deep senses of love and worship.

—Benjamin Ball ’21

Aug. 17

Magazine editor resigns over Dickman’s controversial poem, as U. community weighs in

Alongside its many personal reflections and reviews of cultural works, The Prospect also engages in reporting on the various happenings of the arts and culture world. One exemplary work of arts reporting comes from Head Prospect Editor Paige Allen, who covered the controversy surrounding creative writing lecturer Michael Dickman’s poem “Scholls Ferry Rd.” wherein he used offensive and violent language. After the poem was published in Poetry magazine, the editor of the magazine resigned in response to the controversy. In the piece, Princeton students both critique and defend the poem’s publication, and Allen navigates deftly through the fraught waters of calls to action and the balance between accountability and cancellation.

—Benjamin Ball ’21

Sep. 24

Growing up everywhere

Staff writer Sandeep Mangat’s photo essay presents a beautiful meditation on how our past memories inform our present selves. Mangat asked Princeton students to provide a picture of a memorable person or a place from their childhood and briefly reflect on the significance of the photograph. The resulting collection features images documenting a vast array of terrains and locations, from the gleaming mountain peaks of Lake Tahoe to the blazing city lights of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Published at the beginning of Princeton’s first full virtual semester, the piece synthesizes the voices of the scattered student body into a collective experience of the power of memory. Additionally, the piece serves as one of The Prospect’s first inter-sectional collaborations with Digital Design. Reversing the typical black-on-white layout of digital copy, Mangat’s piece features white text on an elegant black backdrop, causing the vibrant colors in the images to pop out at the reader and generate a more immersive viewing experience.

—Cameron Lee ’22

Oct. 14

Innovative yet grounded, Nathan Meltzer performs at Dreamstage

The current conditions have brought on a new (hopefully temporary) era of virtual performances within the music industry. In this piece, senior writer Aster Zhang reviews violinist Nathan Meltzer’s virtual concert hosted by the platform Dreamspace, interspersing critical comments with personal reflections on their experience of the event. Zhang carefully guides us through each component of Meltzer’s performance, offering detailed analyses of Meltzer’s interpretations of pieces and particularly praising Meltzer’s rendition of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Violin Sonata in D minor.” Although the article primarily serves as a piece of classical music criticism, Zhang also touches on pressing matters of the times, noting the effects of the pandemic as well as the Black Lives Matter movement on the classical music industry. Zhang’s piece is one of the first published by the cohort of nearly 70 new writers who joined The Prospect in the fall semester, many of whom are members of the Class of 2024 who have never lived on the University’s campus.

—Cameron Lee ’22

Oct. 18

Our America: Reactions to the Pre-read

Since 2013, when President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 first instituted the Princeton Pre-read program, each class of University students has collectively read and discussed a book with the goal of being introduced to “Princeton’s intellectual life.” In 2020, the Class of 2024 read “This America: The Case for the Nation” by Jill Lepore. This year, The Prospect compiled students’ reactions to the text, creating a portrait of the incoming first-years. Their responses range from personal reflections to intellectual quandaries, stretching beyond the text itself to incisive commentary on the nation Lepore’s book aims to describe. Collaborating with the Cartoon and Digital Design sections to create a unique site for the piece, with “Reactions to the Pre-Read,” The Prospect continues to provide a platform highlighting the diverse perspectives and experiences of students at Princeton.

—Cameron Lee ’22

Oct. 31

Q&A with Glenna Jane Galarion ’21, opening act for fall 2020 Lawnparties

For the first time ever, Fall Lawnparties was hosted virtually, with Jason Derulo chosen as the headliner. His opening act was Glenna Jane Galarion ’21, who sat down for a Q&A with Sydney Eck, one of our new staff writers. Eck has been prolific in continuing another Prospect initiative that aims to highlight the work of student artists. Check out her interview with Sam Spector ’24, who covered Conan Gray’s “Heather.” Glenna Jane talked about how she was chosen to open for Derulo, how she got into music in the first place, and how her senior year has gone in the virtual semester. This piece really captures the dramatic changes necessary to recreate some semblance of Princeton from the comfort of our homes, and it inspired conversation among the rest of the Princeton community about whether those changes were successful.

—Auhjanae McGee ’23

Nov. 10

At home, I live in fear. Princeton offers no safe haven.

Unlike other sections, The Prospect rarely breaks news nor does it strive to provide core, day-to-day information. Instead, The Prospect aims to tap into the arts and culture of Princeton and to open windows into new corners of the community. This piece, written by an anonymous contributor, fulfills the latter and does so in a way that shows the urgency of telling the stories of our community members — of relaying their experiences. Through beautiful writing, this piece tells of some of the most unpleasant realities too many have had to face this year and likely in the years before. In writing this piece, the author asks the reader to momentarily join them in their pain between a family that doesn’t accept them and a university that wouldn’t help them find a place to more safely grow into themselves. Only a handful of days after this piece was published, the University announced a change in policy that would help students like the author in case of a remote spring semester. This piece wasn’t alone in urging the University to make such a change; it was joined by many other voices. Still, this piece embodies some of the best of The Prospect: a place to share one’s own experience with the potential to help another person feel seen or even help effect change.

—José Pablo Fernández García ’23

Dec. 20

Why are we all on Le Creuset TikTok? A personal investigation

To find one article that summed up 2020 as a year for The Prospect and for Princeton students would be an impossible task. Surprisingly, Associate Prospect Editor José Pablo Fernández García’s investigation into a strange TikTok obsession with Le Creuset cookware might be the closest we get. The article is an example of how The Prospect can delve into bizarre and niche cultural phenomena — see staff writer Molly Cutler’s exploration of two pieces of long-form multimedia speculative fiction about futuristic football for another example — and make observations that are engaging and resonant with our readers. Fernández García astutely reflects on the anxieties and the idiosyncrasies that characterize both 2020 and our generation, and his thoughtful, funny, and insightful piece caps off this year in The Prospect while looking toward a sometimes imagined, sometimes imminent future.

—Paige Allen ’21

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