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over-, under-, or mis-represented topics in QB

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:49 pm
by grapesmoker
I'd like to start a general discussion on the question of which topics people feel are either over-represented, under-represented, or mis-represented in quizbowl, with possible solutions certainly welcome. This might end up being an agitation for expanding the canon, so I'm not really interested in statements like, "that topic is too obscure."

What do I mean by this? Here's an example.

I think Russian literature is mis-represented in the QB canon, though not under-represented. That is, it gets the share of the distribution that it ought to get, but from studying the QB canon you'd think that Russia had produced all its important authors in the 19th century: Gogol (who is actually Ukranian, technically), Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov, and Tolstoy. Ok, that's not quite fair, there's Solzhenitsyn too, but the field is still quite limited. For example, writers such as Bulgakov, Babel, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Bloch, Ilf and Petrov, and Brodsky, to name just a few, rarely if ever make an appearance. In effect, what is actually the mainstream of the 20th century Russian literary tradition is actually left out of the QB mainstream.

I'm not advocating that ACF Regionals, for example, ought to include all these writers. But I do wonder why, at the collegiate level, the Russian writers most often appearing in the QB canon are those that everyone read way back in high school (although, of course, the "big" authors are read at all levels). I don't want to debate the relative merits of Tolstoy vs. Bulgakov, but I feel that the modern literary tradition of Russian literature is generally ignored by the QB canon, despite the fact that most of these authors are widely acknowledged as great and are not considered at all obscure in the literary world at large.

I'd like to read everyone's views on this general issue. In closing, I'd like to thank Paul Litvak for including "Twelve Chairs" in a bonus part in the finals of last year's ACF Nationals.

Jerry

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:08 pm
by Chris Frankel
There are bunch of pet peeves that I could probably come up with given more time, but off the top of my head, two things that annoy the hell out of me are the overemphasis on Herman Melville and William Dean Howells. Melville is damned important, but tossups on obscurata like Mardi, Pierre, and Redburn are just retarded. Same goes for Howells beyond Silas Lapham. I've never studied American regional authors, admitedly, but it's ridiculous that the guy's lesser works come up at EVERY SINGLE ACF TOURNAMENT. Nobody besides a niche few will convert tossups on A Modern Instance or Annie Kilburn, so stop asking about them!

Also, whose bright idea was it to start the "Conway Cabal" trend? I've never seen it given even a passing mention in any of the American history classes I've taken (never heard of it until I kept seeing it come up in old packets), and it's really some trivial event that may not even have happened. Thankfully, this seems to have been corrected in more recent sets, but the older packets in my archive are flooded with it.

I'll think of more things later, but this was my initial reaction.

Edit: I forgot about "Weiner's List." I'm going to work on my own.

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:27 pm
by Matt Weiner
I have been keeping a short list of things that I hear too much about relative to their importance. This is not to say that these things are completely unimportant, just that they are overrepresented. This is mostly just my subjective impression but I haven't posted it in a while. It also includes answers that I think are TOO important to try to summarize in five lines of tossup text, as well as question styles that I dislike. Some of them are perfectly fine answers that I have seen a lot of bad tossups and no good tossups on, and should be relegated to clue or bonus answer status.

Abbassids (as an answer, this is far too broad and covers far too much history to write a tossup on. Pick another dynasty or write on a specific person or event from Abbassid history. Would you write a tossup on "The Roman Empire"?)
the word "abracadabra"
abstract expressionism (both impossible to define precisely and usually the answer to a bad list tossup)
aloha oe
Armaggeddon/Meggido (yeah, there were battles there, we get it)
Arsenic and Old Lace
arpanet
biomes
Bloom County
"boy meets girl" plot summaries (stop this please!)
blue moon
capitals
Capitol Steps
card games, especially poker (in two years, poker questions will read like questions on pogs)
Cask of Amontillado
Chandragupta peacock tamers leadin
Chappelle, Dave, or his show, or anything related to either
chess
Civil war, minor generals and battles of
Coase and his theorem
cognitive dissonance
common sense
conspicuous consumption
cryptozoology
diamonds, specific; includes all other "famous" gemstones
dinosaurs
Doctors Without Borders
Doria, Andrea (barely anyone died! why is this important?)
econometrics (an econ tossup on "econometrics" is like a math tossup on "division")
economists (ask about economics instead)
Ender's Game series or anything related to it
Everyman
Fashoda incident
four color problem
gaucho literature
Gerome, J.L.
Get Fuzzy (why were there THREE tossups on this comic strip in one ACADEMIC tournament last year?)
groupthink
Hecksher-Olin
indium
interstate highways
khazars
Klein bottle
Knightley, Keira
Kuznets, Simon
kwanzaa
Leidenfrost effect
Life of Pi, The
Luxembourg
Magnus effect
Malleus Malificarum
Mamma Mia
Marbury v Madison (never seen a tossup on this that didn't start with a giveaway clue)
McGregor, Ewan
medications, brand names for
memes
mixed drinks from ingredients bonus (how many times do we need to hear this?)
Modigliani, F.
museums
New Colossus, The
novels by politicians
Pareto or anything named for him
Peterson, Scott or Laci, anything related to
PCR
PDQ Bach
Phillips curve
physiocrats
potlach
Prester John
Ratatosk
Romersholm
Salton, Felix
Satyricon
Separate Peace, A
Shi-Huang Di
Simmons, Bill "The Sports Guy"
Sikorsky, Igor
Skinner, Mike "The Streets"
snowflakes
Steely Dan
stock market terms
strategy games of all kinds
television, British
trash, old (in academic tournaments. Outside of the most famous movies and athletes, trash from before 1960 or so just doesn't get answered without a trash specialist in the room).
US state size comparisons as clues in geography questions (CBI still does this. You don't want to be like CBI, do you?)
Watership Down
West Wing, The (it seems like four people in quizbowl are really big fans of this show and ask trivia about it to everyone else)
Wie, Michelle
wine, measurements of
de Zurburan, Francisco (I am convinced he only comes up because he is the last entry in any art dictionary. Evidence includes the fact that "he is the last entry in any art dictionary" is a clue in 50% of Zurburan questions.)

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:55 pm
by grapesmoker
Matt Weiner wrote:I have been keeping a short list of things that I hear too much about relative to their importance. This is not to say that these things are completely unimportant, just that they are overrepresented. This is mostly just my subjective impression but I haven't posted it in a while. It also includes answers that I think are TOO important to try to summarize in five lines of tossup text, as well as question styles that I dislike. Some of them are perfectly fine answers that I have seen a lot of bad tossups and no good tossups on, and should be relegated to clue or bonus answer status.
I'm curious as to which of the things you listed fall into which category. I ask because I found some things in your list that definitely struck me as being important.

Perhaps it's a testament to the difference in content between the various regions of the country, but I can't remember when, outside of a tournament of the caliber of Illinois Open, I've heard questions on groupthink, khazars, the Magnus effect, Pareto, or Zurbaran, just to name a few random things on your list. I'm not criticizing your list because for all I know it's accurate in the mid-Atlantic region, which leads to the question of whether there are significant differences in what's considered "canonical" across the country. Any thoughts?

edit: I'd kill for a chess question.

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:03 pm
by Susan
The obvious example (to me, at least) is "named" organic reactions (including but not limited to Friedel-Crafts, Diels-Alder, WIttig, Wolff-Kishner, and Claisen condensation), though as a non-chemist, I'm not exactly clamoring for more obscure answers in non-biological chemistry. It does seem that Diels-Alder and Wittig reaction questions have been especially frequent over the past couple of years.

Also, Jerry--does Bulgakov really belong on your underrepresented list? He's hardly overrepresented, but he and his works certainly seem to come up more than the other authors you mentioned. I recall a tossup on Margarita at ACF Nationals last year, and I've heard "Heart of a Dog" come up in a bonus part at some tournament recently (Illinois Open?).

Susan

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:13 pm
by Chris Frankel
A few more thoughts while I'm writing my list. I think mainstream/general accessiblity (to players overall) can trump significance in extreme cases. Everyone's heard of the people in your first list. I'm a pretty decent generalist, and I never would have heard of anyone on your second list (except Bulgakov) if I didn't have an archive of old hardcore tournament packets to read; in fact I've actually only heard of Akhmatova, Bloch, and Brodsky in your list, and I couldn't name any of their works of the top of my head.

That's not to be presumptuous and say that my not having heard of them renders them too hard for everyone; but I don't think you can seriously expect a question on those authors to be askable beyond the 30 level question of a regionals/standard packet submission tournament or the 20 level at a nationals/hardcore tournament. For the most part I find that when tossups go absolutely dead (as opposed to someone recognizing the answer after negging or the giveaway being a "I've heard of it but I can't pull it") or bonuses get 0'd, people tend to tune out the answers and not learn them. So I guess I'm saying if you want them to come up, it has to be a very gradual process.

As for Susan's point about named reactions, I think the limited nature of the science canon is more a function of a limited supply of knowledgable writers. When I have to write science, I'm more inclined to fall back on something like Diels-Alder than randomly pull out one of the thousands of reactions or compounds and have it be something totally unimportant. Chemistry is especially prone to that IMHO, because it just seems like a harder topic to find viable answers for (my team's science people keep telling me this), and a common safety measure is to just overemphasize orgo in order to fill out a tournament distribution.

Finally, about Jerry's regional question, I think one could easily do some cursory research with a big enough packet archive and link certain habits to certain teams/regions. Weiner's list contained a few answers that made me think of a certain individual/group instantly, but I won't call them out. One example I think I can cite without specifically putting anyone on the spot is that obscure Civil War battles have always been a HUGE thing in Southern tournaments (not coincidentally the obscure battles in question tend to be engagements from the Southern campaign). Take that as you will.

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:21 pm
by Matt Weiner
grapesmoker wrote:[Perhaps it's a testament to the difference in content between the various regions of the country, but I can't remember when, outside of a tournament of the caliber of Illinois Open, I've heard questions on groupthink, khazars, the Magnus effect, Pareto, or Zurbaran, just to name a few random things on your list.
Khazars is a reptition problem caused by too much writing on a really niche topic: even if there's only 2 or 3 questions on the khazars each year, when the clues are exactly the same in each, that's far too much advantage to people who heard the other set in return for a question on a historical footnote. Magnus effect is Straight Dope science that should never come up (unless someone can write a legitimate question on it that doesn't mention curveballs). Groupthink questions tend to turn into either a list of authors who have written about groupthink or a really obvious, definition-style clue. Zurburan, I mentioned in the original post, comes up for cutesy reasons.

Pareto, I've heard as much as three times in one set, and I just don't see why he needs this much attention. Perhaps it is a regional thing but he's probably one of the handful of answers that I'd like to see a complete moratorium on for a year.

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:46 pm
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
If I went by just what I hear at practice, I'd think that there were only four rivers in the world, and that five of them were the Brahmaputra.

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 5:48 am
by grapesmoker
Chris Frankel wrote: Everyone's heard of the people in your first list. I'm a pretty decent generalist, and I never would have heard of anyone on your second list (except Bulgakov) if I didn't have an archive of old hardcore tournament packets to read; in fact I've actually only heard of Akhmatova, Bloch, and Brodsky in your list, and I couldn't name any of their works of the top of my head.
Thanks for your input. I just wanted to mention that I brought up Russian literature as an example of a case in which, it seems to me, the QB canon tends to ignore influential authors of a particular literary tradition. So it's not so much a question of global under-representation as a question of mis-representation, or perhaps under-representation within a category. I agree that some of those authors would be quite hard to get at any level. This was just the first thing that came to me and something I know a little bit about because I've read some of the literature I talked about. I also third the "minor Civil War battles" complaint.

Jerry

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 11:40 am
by mps4a_mps4a
There are bunch of pet peeves that I could probably come up with given more time, but off the top of my head, two things that annoy the hell out of me are the overemphasis on Herman Melville and William Dean Howells
Thank you- those are two of my biggest annoyances, especially Howells. He's just not that important, but he probably gets brought up more than someone like Hawthorne or Faulkner. Melville's works that you wouldn't reasonably expect to read in a survey of 19th cent America lit =not important. Please make those questions go away.

There also seems to be a growing use of Irish and Finnish mythology. I used to keep track of things that as far as I could figure out only existed in quizbowl, and these two are going to fit in there if that trend continues. Norse mythology and Byzantine history are two other pet peeves, but I think that's more my own personal thing, because other people have disagreed with me there.

I think modern poetry (Whitman on) gets a bit underrepresented, but again, that might be my own thing. But some of the really important poets of this era (Lowell and Bishop stick out- I can only remember one question each on those two, and I wrote one of them) don't get much play. And you will almost never hear a tossup on a poem of the 20th century unless it's on something hugely known like "Daddy". I'm not saying we should err in the direction of asking questions on the individual poems of Gregory Curso or Billy Collins, but I think there's some stuff that can be done there.

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 4:21 pm
by Chris Frankel
Just for more discussion, here's a list I came up with off the top of my head last night/this morning, which I will start updating as I go to tournament again in the spring. I specifically aimed to avoid overlap with Weiner's list, though I agree with a lot of things he already mentioned (e.g. "boy meets girl," Andrea Doria [especially on the actual person named A.D.], Klein bottle, PDQ Bach). I also tried my best to avoid personal biases on things that don't interest me, but are still worth asking about, and on things that I lack the least background in (e.g. most science).

As with Weiner's, there's a lot of variability in my list. I don't think Mathis der Mahler or Tobias Smollett, for example, should be outright banned, but they come up more than they should. Likewise, there's some room for debate over what constitutes "lesser," but I think most people can see why tossups on Daisy Miller/Portrait of a Lady are appropriate anywhere; The Bostonians/The American are askable, but somewhat sketchy; and Roderick Hudson/What Masie Knew are just absurd under any circumstances.

Angels in America
Anaxi-mander/-menes/-goras, as in the Greek philosophers (nothing wrong with asking about them individually, but "match the description to the guy named Anaxi-" bonuses need to die)
authors of books adapted into operas (asking about Prosper Merimee in a Carmen bonus is one thing, tossups on Carlos Gozzi and Georg Buchner is another entirely)
Bachianas Brasileiras
battleship questions (specifically World War II-era "name the battleship named after a state" crap)
biological orders or classes
Booker Prize (when used as a basis for answer selection; i.e. asking about an otherwise obscure work/author just because it won a Booker Prize; this applies to prizes in general, but I find Booker most egregious)
children’s lit (outside of trash)
Confessions of an English Opium Eater
Conway Cabal
current events trash (selecting answers based on topics that only broke into popular media within the past month or two is just as bad as antiquated trash, and, worse, has the effect of making the packet age very poorly. write about an established band or hit song instead of some no name flash in the pan that just made it to the radio)
Dada (questions where the answer is "Dada")
detective fiction
Dick, Phillip K.
distance runners (Paavo Nurmi is sooooo academic!)
The Egoist
electronegativity scales
Entry of Christ into Brussels
gamelan
Hajj
Howells, William Dean (lesser works of)
Huxley, Aldous (lesser works of)
James, Henry (lesser works of)
jazz (when not placed into trash or "miscellaneous" distributions; stop displacing the classical music distribution with jazz!)
Kleist, Heinrich von
Marcy, William (the obscure 19th Century American politician, not the mediocre old hack actor William H. Macy)
Mathis der Mahler
McCarthy, Cormack
Melville, Herman (lesser works of)
Mendelssohn, Moses
military history in general (this a huge gray area, as there a lots of worthy subjects, but in general it's way overdone; for example, we don't need another bonus on the theories of Clausewitz or on minor battles of the Wars of the Roses)
Mobius strip
Smollett, Tobias
Soviet secret police agencies
Stag at Sharkey's
Thompson, Hunter S.
Trilby
Trollope, Anthony
Verlaine, Paul (yeah yeah he was gay and screwed Rimbaud, we get it!)
Watergate (minor figures associated with it)

Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:57 am
by jazzerpoet
First of all, unfortunately there are very few packet submission tournaments in the Southwest region, save the ACF tournaments (of which there will be no Regionals in this region this year) and an occasional Texas or Texas A&M mirror of a more established Mid-Atlantic (usually a Princeton one) tournament. So, there really isn't any Southwest canon of which to speak.

Secondly, I would like to politely disagree with Mr. Frankel concerning the abundance of jazz questions in the classical music sphere. Of course what I am going to speak about will be biased since I am a jazz musician, but I still think that I can stay somewhat neutral when explaining my reasoning. I would like to point out that jazz is just as academic as architecture, sculpture, opera, and so on, because of the historical and cultural backgrounds on which jazz was originally forged. In today's musical scene, jazz has become commercialized and diluted with musicians who are big on talent but low on cultural significance. Jazz was the pulse of a generation, and it was big news when Benny Goodman integrated his band with black musicians or when Duke Ellington performed for the Queen of England. Now guys like Kenny G. and Dave Koz are considered jazz, and that has helped to kill jazz among younger people.

Also, if you simply listen to most styles of jazz from the 1920s until the 1970s, you will realize that much of the music is as poetic and beautiful as any classical composer of the 18th or 19th Centuries. If you consider someone like Aaron Copeland important, then you are obliged to consider Duke Ellington or Count Basie as such; I mean, Duke Ellington is the most prolific American composer, period, with over 2000 compositions. Or listen to Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain; it is as beautiful as any work of Ravel, Saint-Saens, or Debussy. Or you could listen to the Modern Jazz Quartet playing some of Bach's fugues.

Basically, what I am getting at is that jazz has many layers, and if you simply try to look for the more artistic musicians and forget about faux-jazz ones (like Kenny G.), you will realize how true-jazz can and should be included into the fine arts canon.

Sorry to ramble on, but I just wanted to get my point across. Thanks.
Cheers!
Angelo Malabanan

Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 4:16 am
by jewtemplar
1) "Pulse of a generation" and "big news" have no bearing on fine arts status.
2) The improvisational nature of much jazz music and its distinctly non-academic tradition entail a major gulf between it and the commonly accepted fine arts canon of classical music. This alone is reason for restraint in colliding these vastly different musical perspectives.

Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 7:07 am
by Matt Weiner
Most distributions I know of place jazz within the fine arts distribution according to reasonable limits (Duke Ellington yes, Kenny G no being a good example of a reasonable limit). This has always been an issue of some controversy but we can fall back on asking what someone who takes an undergraduate class on the topic would learn. I know I covered jazz in a survey of music history and I know that most similar courses do the same.

The problem, perhaps, is the unfortunate need for various fine arts to compete with each other. We could have all our jazz and opera and architecture and sculpture and other arts that are still important, academic, and worth asking about, but not considered as important as painting and symphonic music, if arts distributions weren't being crowded out by inordinate amounts of trash and general knowledge. If a 20/20 round is going to have 12/12 on science, literature, and history, then there just isn't justification for more than 1/1 trash if every other academic topic is to have breathing room.

Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 7:56 am
by Chris Frankel
Weiner pretty much said what I wanted to say. Even though I will admit some personal bias behind the maxim I listed, I still think classical instrumental/vocal music and/or opera/ballet are too important to be excluded from a round. It's not a dismissal of jazz and people who have a background in it, but I think it objectively can be said that Bach, Mozart, Verdi, Tchaikovsky etc trump Miles Davis et al in terms of academic significance, for lack of better words.

For the record, I have similarly steadfast opinions about the role of questions on theory and performance vs. classical music and on film and architecture vs. painting/sculpture. Jazz, from my experience, was the most common of my "borderline" topics to conflict with established art distributions, so I put it in my list. As said earlier, I'm not trying to de-legitimize jazz, film, etc, but I don't think they can find room if there's only 1/1 each allotted to music and art.

That said, I was thinking of changing the arts distribution for Buzzerfest 05 to 3/3, with 2/2 to accomodate staunch traditionalists like myself and 1/1 to allow leeway for other viable topics that tend to get excluded due to existing limits. It would replace either geography or trash in the distribution. If anyone were interested in discussing this idea, we could start a new thread so as not to hijack this one further.

thoughts

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 2:53 pm
by Nathan
on underrepresented: agree with Jerry on the Russkies....I didn't know anyone had ever written an Ilf and Petrov question -- 12 Chairs should be gettable...if nothing else because Mel Brooks made an excellent movie adaptation....I haven't read the Gold Calf but that's considered to be notable. I have to disagree as to what comes up a bit: Akhmatova and Yevtushenko and Zamiatin seem to come up on a regular basis (Sholokov and Pasternak of course as well....Babel shows up on occasion). Marina Tsvetaeva really should show up....she's generally considered to be as significant as Akhmatova or any other 20th century Russian poet (hint as to why she doesn't show up...I think Akhmatova has a Benet's entry and Tsvetaeva doesn't).
Pessoa is underrepresented and considering his signficance...(a lot more influential than Camoes)
Leopardi rarely shows up...ask any Italian....Ungaretti and Quasimodo are notable, D'Annunzio is an anachronism (he only shows up because of the Nobel -- as with Carducci -- and his exploits at Fiume) but Leopardi is often ranked just under Dante, Petrarch and Manzoni in Italian literary significance....we certainly should be asking him rather than yet another Verga question...and certainly instead of Dario Fo
we ask the lesser Italian neo-Platonists like Pico della Mirandola but not the father of them all -- Ficino?...that's a travesty.
I disagree on Zurburan and Kleist....Zurburan is one the more significant Spanish painters......I advise a trip through the Metropolitan Museum of Art for anyone who wants to form some ideas on relative significance of painters.
Kleist is simply a big deal....up there with Schiller in terms of his effect on German literature
disagree on the lesser works of Henry James and Melville....they may show up a little bit too much....but these are the most notable of American novelists (Melville's poetry sucked).....their entire corpus is a subject of close academic study.

overrepresented: agree on Howells
Sinclair Lewis (yes, Babbit and Main Street are major parts of the American cultural vocabulary...that's it).
ethnic flavor of the month:...this is one area where it helps to have us older folks around.....college reading lists seem to pick a new Chicano/Guatemelan/19th century American female author to read across the country every few years....then they disappear again....Cortazar will stay with us.....Hjueljos?.(sp.?)...probably not.
Booker prize winners.....McKewan and Coetzee (even before the Nobel) are notable authors....Roy will probably be forgotten as with the Life of Pi guy...and Keneally should...as for this most recent guy....as far as I can tell the book was picked entirely on the part of an anti-American pique on the part of the selection committee.
Derrida....literature departments are moving away from theory (see Eagleton's recent book)....he was never taken seriously in philosophy departments.

other thoughts: one thing contributing to the overrepresentation/underrepresentation problem is the origin of QB question sources...in the days before the internet as we know it (there are a few dinosaurs that will remember this)....qb questions seemed to come out of Benet's and Incomplete Education....the latter book is especially notorious....due to its playing up Edna St. Vincent Millay there used to be a plethora of questions on her. another example would be Karl Barth....he really is a big deal....certainly the most influential 20th century theologian (ahead of Tillich, Bulltmann, Altizer, Kung, et al)....however, based on Incomplete Education and the "giveaways" it gave to QB...he's most notable for "crisis theology" and the Dogmatics.
though the Dogmatics were his magnum opus...very few people read it all the way through....if there are two facts you need to know....he's considered the founder of neorthodoxy....a world-wide Protestant and to some extent Catholic theological movement that came out of World War I; and two, that by far (it's not even close) his most notable book was his Commentary on Romans......(which I've never even show up in a Barth question).....the second edition of that Commentary essentially set off neo-orthodxy....Barth had just discovered Kierkegaard and that 2nd edition reflected that reading.....it also helped make Kierkegaard's name.
the pernicious effect of Benet's I don't need to describe.

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:36 pm
by zotlbusy
on this....Nathans right about so many things....howells blows, nobody in academia takes him seriously....just like derrida....and phlogiston....but jazz? just listen to my man Miles, you'll know what I'm talking about...sure, we ask about the Peripatetics, but what about Alexander of Aphrodisias? what a joke....sure, one more drink couldn't hurt....Custom of the Country? Can you say "Benet's"?....except Jonson's, that's cool....Danilo Kis is much more important than Andric....ask any Slav....stupid Nobels skewing representation, just like with d'Annunzio....but Meredith is underrepresented...yes I'll have another drink, but this time a double....he really is a big deal....certainly the most important of the Victorian novelists/poets who slept with Thomas Love Peacocok's daughter...Shaving of Shagpat could be considered his magnum opus, though few people make it all the way to the end....though Lord Ormond and his Aminta might be his finest novel....oddly I've never heard that come up in a question..it really reintroduced Tasso to 19th century England....let's give Ilya Repin a rest already, there are other Russian painters worth asking about....Repin Repin Repin, it's all I ever hear...Bergson doesn't matter....why not more questions on Claire Lispector, more influential than Machado.

oh, and another

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 4:52 pm
by Nathan
underrepresented figure: (in fact, he's not represented at all)....C.P. Cavafy...not only is he the most beloved of modern Greek poets (more so than Elytis) but he had a great deal of influence on an entire generation of post-war British writers....Durrell and the early Fowles were suffused with him....oh, and if you need brownie diversity points in your packet, he was gay.

and I'm not sure that Verlaine is overrepresented.....have to think about that, Verlaine, Gide, Huysmanns....those writers of aesthetic decadence had a lot of impact.

one more thing

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 4:53 pm
by Nathan
I threw Repin into a bonus with Ge and Rublev a while back....I'd never seen him come up before....does he show up a lot now?

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 5:37 pm
by Scipio
The thing is, Freeburg, is that his reply was supposed to be taken satirically. I suspect the criminal overuse of ellipses is the giveaway there.

I could be wrong, though.

well...

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 5:42 pm
by Nathan
it could be a feeble attempt at satire but I don't know who this poster is...some of it reads like it could be but others appear to be bona fide points.

I haven't exactly been to many tournaments recently so I don't know if Repin has been showing up....for all I know, maybe he's the new Rublev.

Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 8:13 pm
by Captain Sinico
Let's try this one:
Over-represented: Literature.
Under-represented: Arts (other than literature) and music.

MaS

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 12:37 am
by Matt Weiner
Ironically I was just assigned Akhamtova today in a Soviet history class. Somehow I don't think her importance in quizbowl is due to Benet's alone.

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 8:22 am
by Irreligion in Bangladesh
ImmaculateDeception wrote:Let's try this one:
Over-represented: Literature.
Under-represented: Arts (other than literature) and music.
Goes past college bowl. We had more Home Economics, Business, and Industrial Arts questions each than Music in the last 4 games of high school conference play.

Then again, that's Illinois questions for you.

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:02 am
by Theory Of The Leisure Flask
ImmaculateDeception wrote:Let's try this one:
Over-represented: Literature.
Under-represented: Arts (other than literature) and music.

MaS
Agree on the second part. As for the first, lit is no more over-represented than history. (Which is not to say it isn't over-represented all the same.)

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:44 am
by No Sollositing On Premise
Despite my favoring, I have to say that pretty much all mythology, especially the somewhat fun but not really important Norse mythology, is overdone. For some reason, it always seems to be present, but the canon really isn't that large. Obscure stuff like details on Thor's adventures such as the Utgardsloki/Skymir myth is a lead-in at best. To be honest, I wonder why it's even considered important.

Oh, and benjaminthedonkey gets props for quoting the immortal Calvin as a signature.

thoughts

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 12:20 pm
by Nathan
Matt: I don't mean to disparage Akhmatova's significance but rather point out that Tsvetaeva is of similar stature.

as for mythology: I never understood why it wasn't a subset of literature.

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:12 pm
by ValenciaQBowl
Yo, Nate--

Why don't you run down the arguments for the critical importance to the QB canon of Saxo-Grammaticus and Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite again? I remember that being a swell conversation (well, monologue).

NOTE: I am kidding. Really.
--cborg

Re: thoughts

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 2:57 pm
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
Nathan wrote: as for mythology: I never understood why it wasn't a subset of literature.
You could argue that mythology, while often written down, also has a very significant social and historical dimension that literature doesn't.

I mean, nobody built temples to Dostoyevsky. Nobody conquered land in his name. Nobody based their entire society on pleasing him.

Re: thoughts

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 4:51 pm
by Dan Greenstein
Bruce wrote:I mean, nobody built temples to Dostoyevsky. Nobody conquered land in his name. Nobody based their entire society on pleasing him.
Not that we know of.

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 7:29 pm
by rocket
laszlow wrote:Despite my favoring, I have to say that pretty much all mythology, especially the somewhat fun but not really important Norse mythology, is overdone. For some reason, it always seems to be present, but the canon really isn't that large. Obscure stuff like details on Thor's adventures such as the Utgardsloki/Skymir myth is a lead-in at best. To be honest, I wonder why it's even considered important.
I think the real problem with mythology is that many writers don't have them with good lead-ins. As somewhat of a mythology nut, I know that I am biased towards them a little, but the real problem in my mind is that the lead-ins to every question are usually way too obvious: this is mostly because most of the clues just lead to most obvious answer-which for people in the Greater DC-Metropolitan Region is reminiscent of Kevin "Living Dead/Vampire" Keegan"-I think that the questions would be much better if they would go towards a little more obscure answers. This can be annoying since most people have heard of these people at leats just from attending tournaments and yet they probably could have gotten the answer. And as for them taking up too much space, when you consider how much mythology that actually exists, they usually only are in a bonus and/or one toss-up for most packets if they are included at all, so they really are only a fraction of the questions. If anything in the quiz bowl question takes up to much space, I think it is the current trash questions. These questions are most liikely going to be relevant only once, and from then on, they become completely useless because the topic is no longer at all popular/current. And I think that most people would agree that a question on even Japanese Literature would be "better" than a toss-up on which Texan dude can stick like 40 crayons in his mouth -- completely hypothetical.

Posted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:45 am
by radiantradon
One thing I've noticed about the Shakespeare questions is that they focus almost entirely on the tragedies, with some mention of the histories and almost none of the comedies. True, some of the comedies are obscure, but so are some of the tragedies. (Timon of Athens, anyone?)

Posted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:55 am
by Matt Weiner
radiantradon wrote:One thing I've noticed about the Shakespeare questions is that they focus almost entirely on the tragedies, with some mention of the histories and almost none of the comedies. True, some of the comedies are obscure, but so are some of the tragedies. (Timon of Athens, anyone?)
All Shakespeare is worth knowing (although whether it's all accessible, especially in high school, is debatable). The amount of scholarship and copies in circulation of even "King John" or "Two Noble Kinsmen" places the "obscure" works of Shakespeare in the highest echelon of literary importance as judged by knowledge among specialists and influence on later authors.

Posted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 8:07 pm
by grapesmoker
Matt Weiner wrote: All Shakespeare is worth knowing (although whether it's all accessible, especially in high school, is debatable). The amount of scholarship and copies in circulation of even "King John" or "Two Noble Kinsmen" places the "obscure" works of Shakespeare in the highest echelon of literary importance as judged by knowledge among specialists and influence on later authors.
Shakespeare might all be worth knowing, but that doesn't mean that every packet needs a 1/1 Shakespeare distribution. This is an annoying trend that I've encountered at some tournaments. Need a quick lit bonus? Shakespeare plays from characters or lines to the rescue. Too often, Shakespeare's prodigious output lends itself to being overused by lazy writers. I'm of the opinion that the maximum number of appearances of Shakespeare works in any given tournament ought to be about one question for every two or three rounds.

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 10:06 pm
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
Speaking of over-represented,

Image

Pretty to look at, not pretty to hear dozens of questions about within the space of a month.

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 10:17 pm
by Captain Sinico
Bruce wrote:Speaking of over-represented,

Image

Pretty to look at, not pretty to hear dozens of questions about within the space of a month.
I negged with Blam myself. Crippled by knowledge!

Anyway, here's mine:
Overrepresented: James Dickey at NAQT tournaments.
Underrepresented: physics at NAQT tournaments.

MaS

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 4:32 pm
by solonqb
Matt Weiner wrote:I have been keeping a short list of things that I hear too much about relative to their importance...

Chappelle, Dave, or his show, or anything related to either
...
de Zurburan, Francisco (I am convinced he only comes up because he is the last entry in any art dictionary. Evidence includes the fact that "he is the last entry in any art dictionary" is a clue in 50% of Zurburan questions.)
Does the Chapelle thing have anything to do with Michigan A's question at ACF Nationals last year that asked for "I'm Gonna Piss on You" or something to that effect? I was looking at those packets to see what ACF Nationals questions might be like. I nearly died laughing.

And as far as Zurburan goes, inane leadins notwithstanding, if he shows up in my watered down 12th grade Spanish culture course (which he does), I'd wager he's important.

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:26 pm
by Nathan
"And as far as Zurburan goes, inane leadins notwithstanding, if he shows up in my watered down 12th grade Spanish culture course (which he does), I'd wager he's important."

Zurburan, Murillo and de Ribera (though secondary to Velazquez within their period) are certainly a notable triumvirate (Z. may show up too much compared to the others)

another thought

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 2:09 pm
by Nathan
I suppose one problem with question obscurity is the tendency to find anything foremost in its category to be askable....since categories are almost infinitely multipliable....we end up with the most notable Latvian epic, Sri Lankan lesbian poet and what-not...(and I've certainly been guilty of this)....the "foremost in the category" ranking has some use when something or someone else in the category is already asked (i.e. tossups on Elytis (because he won a Nobel) and not on C.P. Cavafy...the more notable 20th Century Greek poet) but not as a criterion in and of itself. 3 Men in a Boat is easily the most well-known Victorian pure comic novel (differentiating from Dickens and Trollope) but that hardly makes it tossupable (I'd say it's certainly fair game as a bonus part at some tourneys). In contrast, John Anderson was most certainly the most well-known Australian philosopher...that doesn't mean he should ever be asked as a tossup or even as a bonus part (short of an Artaud type difficulty tournament).