Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by vinteuil »

Ukonvasara wrote:While I agree that an increased prevalence of non-western art in quizbowl would be an interesting thing, you have to keep in mind that the two primary criteria for asking about something in quizbowl are "does it make for a good question?" and "does it make for an answerable question", and not "does an arguable notion of 'importance' give me a moral imperative to include questions on it?". The reason that the arts distribution is dominated by western art forms and artworks is that for better or for worse, those are what people, almost universally (and especially outside the category of "art majors"), know best. By all means, write interesting and accessible questions on Islamic printmakers or Mayan frescos when and where you can (bonus hard parts, as the subjects of or as clues in common link tossups, at hard tournaments, etc.), but that is a step that must be taken long, long before the distribution is radically changed.

Also, 1/1 myth 4 lyfe.

EDIT: Stephen's post is really good, in both the myth and art sections. Another thing to keep in mind when proposing distributional shifts is that the existence of a few good, clue-dense, fairly widely answerable tossup subjects (e.g. sculptures of the Buddha) does not necessarily imply the ability to continue filling tournament after tournament, year after year, without excessively repeating oneself.
Just to be clear, I don't think that any of John, Doug, and I are arguing for a radical enough distributional change for this to be a major problem (although considering your last comment, we should all be extremely careful before consigning every regular-difficulty tournament to basically include a tossup on either Indian classical music or gamelan etc.)—just a change in the terms in which the Fine Arts distribution is set, to allow for even a very small number of these questions to be included.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

It seems to me that most of what people want to achieve with regards to the arts distro is already achievable within the parameters set by the existing distribution. I like Jacob's taxonomy (I do not quite understand the necessity of distinguishing at a fine level between painting and sculpture), and I think that would require minimal effort to implement.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

vinteuil wrote:Just to be clear, I don't think that any of John, Doug, and I are arguing for a radical enough distributional change for this to be a major problem (although considering your last comment, we should all be extremely careful before consigning every regular-difficulty tournament to basically include a tossup on either Indian classical music or gamelan etc.)—just a change in the terms in which the Fine Arts distribution is set, to allow for even a very small number of these questions to be included.
Right, my point there was not that you were saying "BULLDOZE THE DISTRO, REPLACE WITH OLMEC HEADS POSTHASTE", but that the change you'd like to see is entirely accomplishable within the distribution as it exists (especially in a tournament that does something like moving sculpture to the 1/1 shared with painting, which opens up a little more other-visual-arts space).
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

And pursuant to my previous comment, I should say: be the change you want to see in quizbowl. No one is forcing you to write boring tossups on Jewish holidays. Hell, I'm a Jew and I find Jewish holidays pretty damn boring; instead I write about things like "cutting hair" in different religious traditions. Nothing except the willingness to put in the effort is preventing anyone from constructing interesting religion or mythology or social science questions.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by theMoMA »

I do think that mythology tends to be overrepresented relative to various other categories, especially (I'm not sure anyone has pointed this out) relative to the amount of source material that actually exists. It does defy common sense, in my mind at least, that all of the ink that has been spilled producing "American literature" is tested just as often as the various texts that make up myths across the world. Even if you allow that the two categories are roughly equivalent under some vague notion of importance, one of them just has a lot more things that people could possibly know.

It's relatively easy to learn all the relevant clues for mythology in a way that's really not possible in a category in which the material being tested is both deeper to begin with and constantly evolving (such as literature or biology or psychology). And it's really no surprise that, as a result, many of the top players are lockdown mythology experts.

In any event, I think John's right on point when he says that we can't go about radically altering the distribution without considering the answer space where the extra questions would come from. And it's true that, empirically, mythology questions are very answerable. It might make sense to slowly refocus mythology and religion into an overarching "belief" category that tests for both religious and mythological practices and texts (with perhaps some sensible overlap with literature). But it seems as though the new questions that such a situation would create would be in areas (like social science, other arts, etc.) that are historically not as well converted, and we should be mindful of that before enacting radical reforms.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by at your pleasure »

gyre and gimble wrote:
vinteuil wrote:I'm not sure I get your argument that "not caring about the specific artists behind the art" or "not wanting to compare specific pieces" leads to "people aren't interested in this kind of art." The influence that African and Asian art pieces had on French artists and composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (to take a particularly well-known example) was entirely separate from caring about either of those things, to the best of my knowledge. I don't think John is suggesting "the eventual goal would be tossups on this specific Buddha" but rather that questions about "sculptures of the Buddha" would test knowledge of things that people in fact do learn and care about.

(Thread-split in order?)
Sorry if I was being ambiguous, but I didn't mean that "not caring about the specific artists behind the art" or "not wanting to compare specific pieces" means people aren't interested. What I did mean was that people look at those works as cultural artifacts and not intrinsically artistic works. By that I mean 1) evaluating artistic characteristics of most non-Western works requires applying anthropologically-based facts about the culture that produced them and 2) the artistic characteristics we do gather, in a somewhat circular (though of course valuable) fashion, are analyzed to find out more things about the culture. The way one studies Praxiteles (curve, proportions, desire to depict the ideal human form etc.) is very very different from how we engage giant Olmec heads. So if a clue on a Buddha is more about the culture that produced it than about the Buddha, then that question belongs in the history distribution or anthropology distribution and not in visual arts.
I don't think this is actually true( people look at the curves and proportions of giant Olmec heads as a thing unto itself, we actually have a surprisingly substantial corpus of signed and dated Mayan art, and there are non-western artistic traditions with long histories of Named Artists; conversely there's an entire subfield of art history devoted to analyzing, say, Impressionist painting to learn about 19th century Parisian culture), but you're right insofar as, say, it makes sense to write non-western art or art that doesn't fall into "painting on canvas or fresco" with different answer-lines. Conversely, however, we could then say that those answer-lines would make sense in both the art distribution(in which case we just have to accept that yes, that tossup on "Palenque" or "Timurid emirs" or "Rain Gods" clued entirely from visual art is an art tossup no matter how much we want anything with that answerline to be history or geography or mythology) or the history distribution(in which case I don't see why editors cannot map out space for a higher proportion of material culture into the arts distribution and then actually write it as a tossup on visual arts and material culture instead of just listing off archaeological sites or dropping in a token clue on a palace or whatever. If you said "Put this into a form with a distributional change", I'd probably just say Jacob's proposal is good and if we still want to include more non-western art, stipulating that some very small part of the history distribution should be primarily about visual or material culture.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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grapesmoker wrote:And pursuant to my previous comment, I should say: be the change you want to see in quizbowl. No one is forcing you to write boring tossups on Jewish holidays. Hell, I'm a Jew and I find Jewish holidays pretty damn boring; instead I write about things like "cutting hair" in different religious traditions. Nothing except the willingness to put in the effort is preventing anyone from constructing interesting religion or mythology or social science questions.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by theMoMA »

Doug, I think the inherent problem with what you're saying is that the people who play quizbowl just don't know that much about, say, the art of Palenque, so a person who answers a tossup on Palenque from art clues is almost certain to be relying on history knowledge, not art knowledge (or the tossup might not be answered at all). I'm all for testing knowledge of art that doesn't come up in the current distribution, but writing tossups that would constitute 7 lines of dead air followed by a 1-line history speedcheck doesn't benefit anyone, least of all people who are depending on their art knowledge for points.

I understand that there's a middle way between "never testing for the art of Palenque" and "writing 8-line tossups on the art of Palenque," and all I'm saying is that people should consider their audience before going too far in one direction.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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2012 NASAT, packet 6 wrote:18. A statue of one of these figures shows fire rising from his head as he is "at the moment of victory." Four of these figures face the four cardinal directions at the heart of the Ananda Temple. The Mogao Caves are sometimes known as the "Caves of the Thousand" of these figures. Statues of these figures often have long ear lobes, a topknot called the ushnisha, and hair in curls resembling snail shells. Gigantic statues of these figures carved out of sandstone in Bamiyan, Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban. For 10 points, name these beings depicted in Southeast Asian art, who include Maitreya, Amitabha, and Siddhartha Gautama.
ANSWER: Buddhas [or statues of Buddhas; prompt on statues of Siddhartha Gautama]
In case any of you missed it, this tossup has happened at least once before...
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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theMoMA wrote:Doug, I think the inherent problem with what you're saying is that the people who play quizbowl just don't know that much about, say, the art of Palenque, so a person who answers a tossup on Palenque from art clues is almost certain to be relying on history knowledge, not art knowledge (or the tossup might not be answered at all). I'm all for testing knowledge of art that doesn't come up in the current distribution, but writing tossups that would constitute 7 lines of dead air followed by a 1-line history speedcheck doesn't benefit anyone, least of all people who are depending on their art knowledge for points.

I understand that there's a middle way between "never testing for the art of Palenque" and "writing 8-line tossups on the art of Palenque," and all I'm saying is that people should consider their audience before going too far in one direction.
I was literally pulling examples of "things we don't usually treat as answerlines for art that you could clue entirely or almost entirely from art clues" out of my ass, not actually saying "HEY EVERYONE WRITE A TOSSUP ON THE SCULPTURE OF PALENQUE". Although if you've seen ancient aliens you've seen sculpture for Palenque, such as this sarcophagus lid: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... mb_lid.svg.
Or the tablets from the Temple of The Cross, for that matter, although that's less widely circulated:
http://mayaruins.com/palenque/maudsley_ ... cross.html
EDIT: I should of course stipulate that the Ancient Aliens claims about the sacrophagus lid of Pacal The Great are entirely spurious from both an anthropological perspective and an art-historical perspective(the "machinery" is actually the World Tree, the "seat" if you look at it carefully is the jaws of the underworld into which Pacal falls, his posture is not that of astronaut but one which depicts both him in a fetal position perhaps symbolizing rebirth and-if you look carefully at his feet-a rather dancelike posture related to the broader iconography of sacred dance in Mayan art). It's just an example of 'this is something from Palenque most of us have seen".
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

Kuandian Manchu Autonomous County wrote:I should of course stipulate that the Ancient Aliens claims about the sacrophagus lid of Pacal The Great are entirely spurious from both an anthropological perspective and an art-historical perspective(the "machinery" is actually the World Tree, the "seat" if you look at it carefully is the jaws of the underworld into which Pacal falls, his posture is not that of astronaut but one which depicts both him in a fetal position perhaps symbolizing rebirth and-if you look carefully at his feet-a rather dancelike posture related to the broader iconography of sacred dance in Mayan art).
Next you'll be telling me we really did go to the moon!
It's just an example of 'this is something from Palenque most of us have seen".
For sufficiently loose definitions of "most of us."
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill »

Just poppin' in to plead the Powers That Be not to allow 1/1 British History to become an established part of the distribution (although it looks like the discussion has gone past that).
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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Inkana7 wrote:Just poppin' in to plead the Powers That Be not to allow 1/1 British History to become an established part of the distribution (although it looks like the discussion has gone past that).
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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Inkana7 wrote:Just poppin' in to plead the Powers That Be not to allow 1/1 British History to become an established part of the distribution (although it looks like the discussion has gone past that).
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Just chiming in to say that the distinction between religion and mythology in quizbowl has always been very arbitrary and artificial. Merging the two into a 2/2 "Belief" distribution seems fine to me. I find the "nobody writes it well, so remove it from the distribution" to be frankly insulting. You wouldn't make that argument about chemistry with a straight face, so why should you be allowed to get away with making that argument about religion?

I do think there's a meaningful distinction between how people engage with mythology and how people engage with literature that should keep mythology out of the Literature distribution...most of all being that mythology was once tied to the activities and practices of cultures in a way that works of fiction never were. Nobody ever sacrificed heifers to Jane Eyre. There's a dimension to engaging with mythology that goes beyond the text.

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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by The Kirk Store Called »

theMoMA wrote:I do think that mythology tends to be overrepresented relative to various other categories, especially (I'm not sure anyone has pointed this out) relative to the amount of source material that actually exists. It does defy common sense, in my mind at least, that all of the ink that has been spilled producing "American literature" is tested just as often as the various texts that make up myths across the world. Even if you allow that the two categories are roughly equivalent under some vague notion of importance, one of them just has a lot more things that people could possibly know.
I more or less agree with this, but perhaps could we mitigate some of these concerns by simply expanding what we ask about in the mythology distribution. Throw in religious narrative (like specific biblical figures based on what they did in the bible) and free up the religion category for religious practice/theology. Poach a little from the anthropological study of myth systems (and lessen the load on the social sciences). Or heck, even throw in modern folktales or myths.

Probably not going to totally address peoples' concerns on this issue, but it does seem like a relatively easy way to mitigate some peoples' concerns without rocking the boat in a way that would outrage anyone.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I like the idea of working mythology, as well as the litany of biblical character/book questions, into the literature distribution. Things like the Mahabharata, Illiad, Bible, Kalevala, and Eddas are important works of literature and, though they are often studied in a religious context, can be definitely asked about in the same manner we ask about Jane Eyre. In fact, a lot of mythology questions already do play like this. If we choose to do this, though, we have to make sure that tossups on deities, etc. written for the literature distribution aren't stocked with clues about religious symbolism or practice, as they currently are thanks to the immense overlap between mythology and religion. This largely rules out a lot of mythology that is more heavily reliant on scant anthropological sources, fairy-tale/story compilations, and the like (Aztec, Chinese, Slavic, etc.) which seems to be one of the primary sources of problems with mythology in quizbowl - it is not too difficulty for the majority of top players to simply thoroughly learn a number of smaller myth systems and be completely dominant on them.

At the same time, you can have a more practice/anthropologically oriented "belief" distribution, where your questions would primarily be about religious symbols, practices, traditions, and the like. Inevitably, questions in this distribution would have a few stories mixed into it as well (i.e. stories about figures that will come in the future and do XXX, or how Y deity gained Z attribute that is relevant in worship practices), which I don't think anyone would object to. This would avoid things like Old Testament Bowl, and I'd imagine this would make questions on things like Quetzalcoatl more palatable, because you'd have to ask about how he was actually venerated instead of trotting out that old chestnut about getting drunk and sleeping with a priestess (or his sister, depending). I think at lower levels this would help alleviate the problem of endless questions on Shavuot, the Council of Trent, and the Five Pillars of Islam by expanding the category of askable things in the religion distribution to include a number of more accessible topics.

Perhaps something like this would be workable:

1/1 Religion (as described above - anthropology and belief, including non-extant traditions)
4/4 literature, encompassing the following:
2/2 English-language literature (minimum 1 American and 1 British)
1/1 Continental European literature (Renaissance-on)
1/1 Other literature (Here go your questions on mythology, the Bible, etc. as well as non-English world literature and ancient stuff)

15/15 other things not germane to this post
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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Stop having bad ideas!!
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

More constructively: making arbitrary changes to the distribution will not solve the problem of "boring questions". Putting in the effort to not write boring questions will. Please stop generating castle-in-the-air distributions to solve the poorly-thought-out "concerns" of "some people".
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Auroni »

For what it's worth, literature tossups on the Aeneid, Iliad, Odyssey, Mahabharata, and Ramayana, focusing on literary clues, have been written, and written well, many times. That does not mean that you can't write mythology questions drawing from those five sources.

People in this thread need to realize you can often approach an answerline from different categories without sacrificing anything in validity. I'd also appreciate it if the people posting about mythology actually edited or wrote good mythology questions before talking out their asses any further.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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vinteuil wrote:I'm completely in agreement with John that non-western arts need to become (gradually, as always) a more major part of quiz bowl, but I'm honestly a bit confused by the idea that changing the distribution facilitates this—most of the non-western art that I've been exposed to at least has been music and sculpture, film, and architecture. John, are you suggesting that there be a defined "non-western" component of the "other arts" distribution? And why could that not be implemented as just part of the subdistribution of the existing categories (i.e. "music" now includes 1/1 West African drum rhythms, "architecture" now includes 1/1 Javanese temples etc.).

Although, now that I think about it, another large portion of the non-western art I've been exposed to has been "decorative" and "fashion," two categories that I very much support including in "fine arts."
No, I'm not suggesting that there should be a fixed non-Western area of the subdistribution. In fact, since I think non-Western art should be added very gradually to the canon, through bonus middle/hard-parts and common-links on genres or media practiced by both Western and non-Western cultures (e.g. I could write a tossup on "gold" discussing famous non-Western gold artworks for the first half, but end with clues on important Western gold artworks to ensure the tossup plays well). And the changes I'm proposing do not necessarily require a change in the distribution. But they are facilitated by them, if only because I think non-Western art often uses genres that are not strictly equivalent to the Western genres we toss up right now; and to add non-Western to the Misc. Visuals Arts might mean something like writing a tournament that has no photography questions. However, to be clear: I was stating this as what to do with the extra Misc. Visual Arts space if that space is created; rather than fronting this as an argument for why we should alter the distribution. My reasons for thinking the Misc. Arts distribution should be tweaked exists independently of this.
gyre and gimble wrote:This is of course a sensible criticism, but you have to consider that the distribution quizbowl follows is extremely different, proportionally, from "what people study." According to these links and the premise that the distribution match what is important by the numbers in the real world, then psychology, biology/health/physiology, and engineering should each take up as much of the distribution as all of fine arts, fine arts should be asked more than all of literature, and history+non-psychology-social-science should get 3 times as much coverage as literature.

I think the philosophy behind the current distribution is that it better matches "what people like to learn about" regardless of whether it's in an academic or in a personal setting, and I think that's the best philosophy to have. The alternative philosophy people are proposing (that questions be strictly relevant to academic study of the subject) is meaningless to people who don't study a particular subject in school. For example, if I read Cosmicomics for fun, and the quizbowl world knows about it pretty well, why should I care whether people read that in class when deciding to write a tossup on it? I doubt even a quarter of the people in quizbowl who have read that book read it for class, or engaged it academically (beyond just enjoying the collection, I mean) in any way. In the same way, a tossup on Peleus shouldn't have to be justified by whether anyone in academia gives a shit about him. This argument doesn't justify why Peleus should come up more often than Nathan Zuckerman, but I do want to point out that the insistence that the quizbowl distribution conform to "what is studied in the academic world" is a misguided view of what kind of knowledge quizbowl should test. We don't go to school to get better at quizbowl, nor do we play quizbowl to review for our exams. I'd venture to say that for most of us, what we choose to learn in school lines up well with what we choose to learn for quizbowl, but also for most of us, we learn things outside of our major because we find them interesting but without, for a second, considering whether it merits value in an academic setting.
I don't know who in this thread is arguing that questions be "strictly relevant to study of the subject". I hope no one is. (You will note that I argued for non-Western art on non-academic terms, pointing to its ubiquity in museums rather than to its ubiquity in the classroom.) And I think you are posing a false dichotomy between "what people like to learn about" and "what people study in the classroom" in order to support your point. The particular move you are making that I object to is that you seem to be collapsing all standards of importance or trends in broader culture that exist outside the preferences of the select group of quizbowlers who happen to edit tournaments to some sort of "academic" standard.

The two problems I have with this line of argument are that:

1. Both alternatives you are presenting here are false. As you point out, if we tried to determine the quizbowl distribution purely according to their proportions in academic departments, the results would be discomfiting. But determining it in direct proportion to what quizbowlers know would also have results that would make us uncomfortable: e.g. do you really think that scientists make up 20% of quizbowlers? Are these subjects are highly accessible to non-scientists (moreso than the social sciences and non-Western art)? If not, then by what standards of "what people like to learn" is their distributional weight so large? Their weight is surely a result of some perception of their importance/value. I think the position I am advocating in which quizbowler's knowledge base is an important practical standard for the canon, but in which the proportions still factor in external reality, and in which that sense of external reality also guides the gradual process of canon expansion, is actually more normative than you are trying to make it out to be, by reducing it to an "academic" paradigm.
2. I think you are engaging in a form of post hoc rationalization that is often used to defend the existing canon. The directionality does not flow from "what people like to learn about" to the formation of the canon. Rather, it is a feedback loop. Let's be honest here: how many of us who are good literature players actually knew a lot about and took a great interest in all the different kinds of World literature (and European literature from neglected countries) before we started playing quizbowl? How many of us who are good visual arts players spent lots of time studying the quizbowl-canonical genres before quizbowl? And if we are even more honest, how many of us continue to learn about genres we don't necessarily care for and support those genres' existence in quizbowl, out of acknowledgement that those genres are culturally important? Quizbowl tests "what we learn about", but we also learn about what quizbowl tests! If canon expansion is performed slowly and responsibly, any important sub-distributional area could be given more weight in such a way that within five years, all good quizbowlers would possess basic competence in them.
I disagree here. The following is an accessibility argument similar to my discussion in the pervious paragraph, in that non-Western art tends to be studied as cultural artifacts rather than intrinsic pieces of art. I'm not an art history major, but I have taken art history courses and I've found that people care much less about artistic intent or an artist's individual technique when it comes to non-Western art than they do about what a work says about the culture that created it. We probably don't even know the artist's identity for the majority of the most famous non-Western artworks! I have no doubt I'm being ignorant at an art-historical level when I say that a couple of Buddhas made centuries apart (let's just pick the two hypothetically most important ones) are basically the same thing, since someone who's actually studied that stuff will be able to tell me the subtle and nuanced differences, but how many of us care as much as we do about the differences between Michelangelo's and Donatello's depictions of David?

You raise a point about how art galleries have a lot of things that aren't asked about in quizbowl, but personally I tend to spend a lot more time looking at a Caillebotte painting as an artistic object than I do looking at a piece of Japanese pottery, and I'm pretty sure that's not because quizbowl has conditioned me to care about Caillebotte and has more to do with the fact that society as a whole tends to treat Caillebotte as "art" and a Jomon vase as "artifact." This is at least my personal perception as someone who, like most people, has not studied ancient Japanese art. (Nor do I want this to be a debate about whether society ought to treat such objects as artifacts; the important thing is that it does, at least in my point-of-view, and that's what should matter for quizbowl.)
The first paragraph here especially is exactly the kind of lousy, hypocritical arguments we make when we try to defend our preferences as the standards for the distribution (and, as a consequence, I'm quite surprised to see Rob endorse your post). You previously attack attempts to associate the quizbowl canon with the classroom, and then reify a wholly academic approach to discussing "artistic intent" or "artist's individual technique" as some sort of important standard that can be used to determine quizbowl's definition of art, and to exclude non-Western art. Your use of a narrow academic standard goes entirely against everything you said previously. Your further arguments against non-Western art (e.g. that we do not know the identity of most non-Western artists) are exactly the sorts of arguments made in the stupidest anti-Mythology posts. If I were to argue that Mythological texts should be excluded from the canon on the grounds that no one seems to perform New Criticism-style close reading on many of them or that we don't know who wrote those myths (and therefore can't perform author-centered criticism), or that the fact that they are rich on a broad cultural level (rather than on an individual level) makes them valuable primarily as "artifacts", you would surely find those arguments as silly as I find yours here.
To get back to accessibility: Far, far more people are interested in Western art while not really caring about non-Western art, and even among those who do care, I'd say the majority still steer towards Western. I.e., the non-art-scholar's interests are Eurocentric (perhaps because American culture is Eurocentric?), and I think that justifies a Eurocentric quizbowl art distribution. Quizbowl should ask about what people know and are interested in the most.


I don't object to a Euro-centrism that decides that European art is more important to our culture and should come up more often. (Nor do I object to our Anglophone-centric approach to Literature.) This strikes me as both practical (from a quizbowl perspective) and realistic from (an external perspective). However, I do object to a distribution that excises non-Western art altogether, so that many tournaments entirely lack them. To reiterate: I am encouraging us to make very small steps towards remedying this, on the level of 1/1 per tournament. I suspect most of us do not take much interest in pre-modern African history and that most of us have never seen a bunraku play. This is why they don't have a very large place in the canon. But they are in the canon nonetheless, because we recognize that they are important. Getting to this stage for non-Western art is all that I'm advocating.

Consider my posts gentle encouragement to the established editors to consider taking small steps in their own work, and a statement of purpose that I will attempt to take small steps in my future editing (in spite of the fact that I too currently have little-to-no deep knowledge of non-Western art).
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by bmcke »

What if tournaments required, like, 2/2 of non-western stuff, and it didn't matter what subjects that came from? Also 2/2 of stuff involving women would be cool to have.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

I'm trying to distill the exchange between John and Stephen into some basic positions, but find myself unable to do so. What's the argument here, exactly? That we should have more non-Western art? But we can do this already; nothing in the existing distribution prevents the writing of questions on non-Western art (say, like that "gold" question John outlined). And even if we don't know who sculpted some particular Buddha or whatever, we've already seen that good questions can be written on Buddha statues. So what problem are we trying to resolve in this discussion?
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

bmcke wrote:What if tournaments required, like, 2/2 of non-western stuff, and it didn't matter what subjects that came from? Also 2/2 of stuff involving women would be cool to have.
Do you mean per packet? I don't think quizbowl has ever intentionally avoided asking questions about women, and I don't think important female historical or literary suffer from the same accessibility problems that things like non-Western art do. If anything, some historical figues are more accessible precisely because they are female, largely due to the unfortunate fact that, thanks to historical gender barriers and other factors, there are far, far fewer prominent women In history than men - hence many of those that do exist receive additional attention. Consider the example of Hatsepshut, who's a pretty well known pharaoh not only because of her effective rule, but also because of her gender; the same can be said of Wu Zetian with regards to Chinese rulers. I don't think increasing the proportion of women that we ask questions about in quizbowl would do much to alleviate the problem of the pronoun "she" rapidly reducing the answer space, either, particularly in he history distribution - though perhaps requiring get use of gender-neutral pronouns whenever possible might.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

grapesmoker wrote:I'm trying to distill the exchange between John and Stephen into some basic positions, but find myself unable to do so. What's the argument here, exactly? That we should have more non-Western art? But we can do this already; nothing in the existing distribution prevents the writing of questions on non-Western art (say, like that "gold" question John outlined). And even if we don't know who sculpted some particular Buddha or whatever, we've already seen that good questions can be written on Buddha statues. So what problem are we trying to resolve in this discussion?
The confusion you're having here arose because I advocated a tweak to the way the Fine Arts sub-distribution breakdown should take place (in which Sculpture is grouped with Painting, instead of in the Misc.), and I mentioned non-Western art as one thing that could be better explored if we did this, because there would be room to this without displacing the other Misc. Visual Arts that we currently ask about now. However, I was never arguing that we should change the distribution in order to ask about more non-Western art, and I entirely agree that it is doable within current parameters. I've bolded the relevant portion in the first paragraph of my last post:
I wrote: No, I'm not suggesting that there should be a fixed non-Western area of the subdistribution. In fact, since I think non-Western art should be added very gradually to the canon, through bonus middle/hard-parts and common-links on genres or media practiced by both Western and non-Western cultures (e.g. I could write a tossup on "gold" discussing famous non-Western gold artworks for the first half, but end with clues on important Western gold artworks to ensure the tossup plays well). And the changes I'm proposing do not necessarily require a change in the distribution. But they are facilitated by them, if only because I think non-Western art often uses genres that are not strictly equivalent to the Western genres we toss up right now; and to add non-Western to the Misc. Visuals Arts might mean something like writing a tournament that has no photography questions. However, to be clear: I was stating this as what to do with the extra Misc. Visual Arts space if that space is created; rather than fronting this as an argument for why we should alter the distribution. My reasons for thinking the Misc. Arts distribution should be tweaked exist independently of this.


However, after my original post, Stephen engaged me in an argument about asking about non-Western art at all. And since then, our exchange hasn't really been about changing the distribution to accommodate non-Western art, but rather about what role non-Western art should play in the existing distributional space.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

I think grouping sculpture and painting in a single category makes a lot of sense, especially considering how many artists worked in both mediums. Like I said, I never understood that division. It might or might not enable you to ask more questions about non-Western art, but I would say that we should just write those questions and see how it goes.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:For what it's worth, literature tossups on the Aeneid, Iliad, Odyssey, Mahabharata, and Ramayana, focusing on literary clues, have been written, and written well, many times. That does not mean that you can't write mythology questions drawing from those five sources.

People in this thread need to realize you can often approach an answerline from different categories without sacrificing anything in validity. I'd also appreciate it if the people posting about mythology actually edited or wrote good mythology questions before talking out their asses any further.
Yes, this. Writing a literature tossup on "France" doesn't mean you should no longer ask about France in the history or geography distributions. Stop applying special rules to religion that you would never dream of applying to other subjects!
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by gyre and gimble »

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:I don't know who in this thread is arguing that questions be "strictly relevant to study of the subject". I hope no one is. (You will note that I argued for non-Western art on non-academic terms, pointing to its ubiquity in museums rather than to its ubiquity in the classroom.) And I think you are posing a false dichotomy between "what people like to learn about" and "what people study in the classroom" in order to support your point. The particular move you are making that I object to is that you seem to be collapsing all standards of importance or trends in broader culture that exist outside the preferences of the select group of quizbowlers who happen to edit tournaments to some sort of "academic" standard.

The two problems I have with this line of argument are that:

1. Both alternatives you are presenting here are false. As you point out, if we tried to determine the quizbowl distribution purely according to their proportions in academic departments, the results would be discomfiting. But determining it in direct proportion to what quizbowlers know would also have results that would make us uncomfortable: e.g. do you really think that scientists make up 20% of quizbowlers? Are these subjects are highly accessible to non-scientists (moreso than the social sciences and non-Western art)? If not, then by what standards of "what people like to learn" is their distributional weight so large? Their weight is surely a result of some perception of their importance/value. I think the position I am advocating in which quizbowler's knowledge base is an important practical standard for the canon, but in which the proportions still factor in external reality, and in which that sense of external reality also guides the gradual process of canon expansion, is actually more normative than you are trying to make it out to be, by reducing it to an "academic" paradigm.
It seems to me that you're extending my comments beyond their scope. I wasn't presenting two "alternatives" in the sense that we should choose one or the other and run with it as far as it will take us. I was instead presenting two sides of the spectrum and pointing out which side we should stand on. And it's important to note that the two sides of this spectrum (spectrum, not black-and-white alternatives) are questions "strictly relevant to study of the subject" and questions "purely based on what people can and want to play." I am in no way suggesting there's a dichotomy between "what people like to learn about" and "what people study in the classroom." The dichotomy is between the philosophies that influence us when determining the quizbowl canon. I admit the difference is subtle, but it's still valid in the context of this discussion.

Anyway, I'm not advocating that we try to guess at what percent of quizbowlers know who Louhi is and use that as a paradigm for how often Louhi comes up; I simply wanted to point out that it's dangerous to dismiss Louhi because "nobody cares about Louhi in the wider world," which is essentially a summary of every argument presented against myth in this thread. You're saying that I'm collapsing "all standards of importance or trends in broader culture," but really I'm just collapsing all of the "reduce myth" arguments relating to "how people treat myth in the wider world" to arguments based on "academic" standards.

Further, like I acknowledged in my last post, I wasn't trying to resolve why myth should get 5% of the distribution. The point I was trying to get across is that arguments against myth based on "the wider world's treatment of the subject" are flawed if they ignore the fact that many, many people in the wider world, or at least in the quizbowl world, read myth and enjoy learning about different cosmologies. And the corollary point was that this fact should be the bulk of the basis for our consideration of what we ask about in quizbowl. I think any arguments that depend on "the wider world's treatment of the subject" is inherently dependent on how the subject is treated academically, because what else is there? When it comes to myth's value as an intellectual pursuit, there's the academic sphere and the personal sphere. Basically, I find arguments like "nobody studies myth as an independent subject in college" invalid for the following reason, which I was trying to get at with the Cosmicomics example: whether something is studied academically is relevant to the individual player only as far as the things that player has studied academically. I didn't read Cosmicomics because I thought it was an important work as a part of the literary tradition, I read it because it looked fun to read. So Cosmicomics has no realized academic value to me, and this probably extends to most people who play quizbowl. But it still has an intrinsic intellectual value, so we write questions on it. The same goes for myth. It shouldn't matter whether reading the stories in the Eddas is "something people do" as an academic activity; as long as it's "something people do" and as long as we acknowledge that the stories in the Eddas have intellectual value, we ask questions on them.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:2. I think you are engaging in a form of post hoc rationalization that is often used to defend the existing canon. The directionality does not flow from "what people like to learn about" to the formation of the canon. Rather, it is a feedback loop. Let's be honest here: how many of us who are good literature players actually knew a lot about and took a great interest in all the different kinds of World literature (and European literature from neglected countries) before we started playing quizbowl? How many of us who are good visual arts players spent lots of time studying the quizbowl-canonical genres before quizbowl? And if we are even more honest, how many of us continue to learn about genres we don't necessarily care for and support those genres' existence in quizbowl, out of acknowledgement that those genres are culturally important? Quizbowl tests "what we learn about", but we also learn about what quizbowl tests! If canon expansion is performed slowly and responsibly, any important sub-distributional area could be given more weight in such a way that within five years, all good quizbowlers would possess basic competence in them.
Acknowledged. But I don't see how this detracts from anything I said. For that to make sense I need to make the clarification that "what people like to learn about" doesn't have to be based on life outside of quizbowl. But consider that to me, it's much more fun to learn about Pryderi than it is to learn about John Locke, even though Locke comes up way more often. So even if quizbowl tells us which things might win us points, we choose which things we want to learn.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:The first paragraph here especially is exactly the kind of lousy, hypocritical arguments we make when we try to defend our preferences as the standards for the distribution (and, as a consequence, I'm quite surprised to see Rob endorse your post). You previously attack attempts to associate the quizbowl canon with the classroom, and then reify a wholly academic approach to discussing "artistic intent" or "artist's individual technique" as some sort of important standard that can be used to determine quizbowl's definition of art, and to exclude non-Western art. Your use of a narrow academic standard goes entirely against everything you said previously. Your further arguments against non-Western art (e.g. that we do not know the identity of most non-Western artists) are exactly the sorts of arguments made in the stupidest anti-Mythology posts. If I were to argue that Mythological texts should be excluded from the canon on the grounds that no one seems to perform New Criticism-style close reading on many of them or that we don't know who wrote those myths (and therefore can't perform author-centered criticism), or that the fact that they are rich on a broad cultural level (rather than on an individual level) makes them valuable primarily as "artifacts", you would surely find those arguments as silly as I find yours here.
I have two things to say here: First, "artistic intent" and "artist's individual technique" are not academic or classroom concepts, at least the way that I am using those terms, even though one might only hear those phrases in the classroom. If someone is attracted to Pollock intellectually (not necessarily academically) he or she tries to figure out what the point of throwing paint across a canvas is (instead of just thinking that it's pretty). And our culture (everyday Western culture, not academic culture) singles out Pollock as an individual, which is why there are more questions about Pollock than there are about action painting. So it's incorrect to say that my arguments rely on the very academic standards I rejected earlier on. The distinction I am making is that we as part of an entire Western culture we are naturally exposed to Western art and at least vague notions of how to go about interpreting it, apart from any tangible academic influences; but when it comes to non-Western art, people simply don't care as much because there aren't many individual artists to be celebrated or because the very museums that house non-Western artworks that you cite present them as artifacts and not individual works of art. This is evident in the fact that things like Silla-era jewelry is usually just bunched up in the dozens into glass-enclosed display cabinets, whereas paintings or sculptures get their own designated and un-intruded space. I chose artistic intent and individualism not as academic standards but as standards through which any interested American viewer will psychologically take in the art, because that is what I believe happens when people look at art. And they become impatient and lose interest if those standards are not quickly satisfied, which generally happens with non-Western art. I don't see how this is hypocritical or contradictory with any other statements I made.

Second, this could only apply to myth if you're already working under a framework that says that myth is literature and nothing else, because then sure, mythological texts are "artifacts" and nobody reads them the way they read Jane Eyre. But consider that the logical consequence of this is that we "move" myth out of literature to some other category (RMP), in the same way I am advocating that questions on things like Olmec heads or Ming vases be moved to history. If you wanted to properly extend my arguments on non-Western art to mythology, then we'd be reaffirming the status quo. And hey, maybe that's the reason myth isn't collapsed into literature in the first place.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:I don't object to a Euro-centrism that decides that European art is more important to our culture and should come up more often. (Nor do I object to our Anglophone-centric approach to Literature.) This strikes me as both practical (from a quizbowl perspective) and realistic from (an external perspective). However, I do object to a distribution that excises non-Western art altogether, so that many tournaments entirely lack them. To reiterate: I am encouraging us to make very small steps towards remedying this, on the level of 1/1 per tournament. I suspect most of us do not take much interest in pre-modern African history and that most of us have never seen a bunraku play. This is why they don't have a very large place in the canon. But they are in the canon nonetheless, because we recognize that they are important. Getting to this stage for non-Western art is all that I'm advocating.
The biggest misunderstanding here is the notion that I'm arguing non-Western art doesn't belong in the canon. In fact, I agree that a little bit of non-Western art is fine and desirable. I don't recall ever saying that we should stop writing tossups on Buddhas like the one Matt Jackson posted, although that question does seem non-ideal in terms of difficulty. But the clues used need to be both accessible and art-relevant, rather than culture-relevant.

What I do oppose is actively trying to mold the canon to have increasing amounts of non-Western art. I think it is fine as is, though I guess up to 2/2 per tournament or something would also be okay. This goes back to standards of accessibility and also "what people like to learn about." I'd say the quizbowl community overwhelmingly likes (again, as distinct from "feels the need" as suggested by the feedback loop argument) to learn about Western art and so non-Western art shouldn't encroach too much on that. My need to state this opposition comes from a general feeling I get (caused by phrases like "make very small steps toward remedying this, on the level of 1/1 per tournament) that people think non-Western art has a larger place in quizbowl than I do (for the reasons given, of course).
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

gyre and gimble wrote:The distinction I am making is that we as part of an entire Western culture we are naturally exposed to Western art and at least vague notions of how to go about interpreting it, apart from any tangible academic influences; but when it comes to non-Western art, people simply don't care as much because there aren't many individual artists to be celebrated or because the very museums that house non-Western artworks that you cite present them as artifacts and not individual works of art. This is evident in the fact that things like Silla-era jewelry is usually just bunched up in the dozens into glass-enclosed display cabinets, whereas paintings or sculptures get their own designated and un-intruded space. I chose artistic intent and individualism not as academic standards but as standards through which any interested American viewer will psychologically take in the art, because that is what I believe happens when people look at art. And they become impatient and lose interest if those standards are not quickly satisfied, which generally happens with non-Western art. I don't see how this is hypocritical or contradictory with any other statements I made.
Your statements of "fact" about how non-Western art is presented to "people" (Westerners?) are anything but. The museum that most stands out in my mind in contrast to that contention is the excellent Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, but both the Met and the Art Institute also do an excellent job presenting non-Western art as art and not "bunched up in the dozens into glass-enclosed display cabinets." I don't even get why you think that has implications for which part of the distribution non-Western art ought to be presented in, but if it does, suffice it to say the curatorial world is in stark disagreement. I'm warning you now: you will not be able to come up with a criterion that robustly distinguishes Western Art as Art from non-Western Art as artifact.

LATE ADDITION:
Second, this could only apply to myth if you're already working under a framework that says that myth is literature and nothing else, because then sure, mythological texts are "artifacts" and nobody reads them the way they read Jane Eyre. But consider that the logical consequence of this is that we "move" myth out of literature to some other category (RMP), in the same way I am advocating that questions on things like Olmec heads or Ming vases be moved to history. If you wanted to properly extend my arguments on non-Western art to mythology, then we'd be reaffirming the status quo. And hey, maybe that's the reason myth isn't collapsed into literature in the first place.
The critique of myth is not that the texts are artifacts; it's that they're anachronistic bullshit. The argument that's been put forward in favor of myth is that it has an impact on literature, but the point I made above is that you don't get to then come back and say "this is totally different from literature because it's a telling artifact." Quite the opposite.

Also, Auroni, since when has editing questions on a given subject become a prerequisite for arguing that its representation should be reduced? I don't waste time editing mythology questions because I don't care at all about learning mythology, and because I think studying mythology-as-mythology is a waste of time, it ought to be reduced in the quizbowl distribution. If only mythology editors are allowed to participate in the discussion, that's pretty much a recipe for guaranteeing its conclusion for reasons of circularity John pointed out.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by theMoMA »

In response to your post, Stephen, I think we need to be wary about creating feedback loops where people write on stuff simply because they know other people like it. I don't want to see quizbowl become something like "we all like Calvino, so it comes up a lot!" justified by "it's so answerable" which, of course it is, because there's not much Calvino material and it comes up all the time, so everyone reads it knowing it's a great route to points (and writes on it knowing the favor will be reciprocated).

To my mind, myth is a good example of that effect. The couple thousand pages of text that constitute the major myth systems get tested for with the same frequency as all of biology or American lit or philosophy (and many times over psych, econ, etc.). And the reason that the material is well-converted, especially at events that cater to experienced players, is because having 1/1 myth, when there's not that much material compared to other categories, makes it really profitable to learn fourth-tier golden roosters (as opposed to, say, fourth-tier game theoreticians).

If I were tasked with changing up the 4/4 of the distribution that the 3/3 of RMP and 1/1 of social science currently constitutes, I might suggest 1.5/1.5 "belief" (mythology, religious literature, theology, religious philosophy, etc.; must have either 1 or 2 myth questions), 1.5/1.5 "hard social science" (psychology, economics, linguistics, etc.) and 1/1 "thought" (philosophy, cultural criticism, theory, etc.).

This wouldn't be a radical overhaul, but it would allow editors room to modulate myth content to their preferences (1/1 would still be possible) while increasing the amount of hard social science. I also think that the three groupings that would be created are more logical than the current R, M, P, and SS groups.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by hydrocephalitic listlessness »

theMoMA wrote: If I were tasked with changing up the 4/4 of the distribution that the 3/3 of RMP and 1/1 of social science currently constitutes, I might suggest 1.5/1.5 "belief" (mythology, religious literature, theology, religious philosophy, etc.; must have either 1 or 2 myth questions), 1.5/1.5 "hard social science" (psychology, economics, linguistics, etc.) and 1/1 "thought" (philosophy, cultural criticism, theory, etc.).
This is a fantastic idea. There'd definitely need to be some hashing out of the "hard social science"/"thought" divide, but I see this as a much more coherent way of splitting up these categories than the current system.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by ryanrosenberg »

theMoMA wrote:If I were tasked with changing up the 4/4 of the distribution that the 3/3 of RMP and 1/1 of social science currently constitutes, I might suggest 1.5/1.5 "belief" (mythology, religious literature, theology, religious philosophy, etc.; must have either 1 or 2 myth questions), 1.5/1.5 "hard social science" (psychology, economics, linguistics, etc.) and 1/1 "thought" (philosophy, cultural criticism, theory, etc.).

This wouldn't be a radical overhaul, but it would allow editors room to modulate myth content to their preferences (1/1 would still be possible) while increasing the amount of hard social science. I also think that the three groupings that would be created are more logical than the current R, M, P, and SS groups.
I also think this is a good idea; the current distribution doesn't mandate any "hard social science", which seems illogical given how important and accessible it is. There aren't too many disciplines that don't engage with economics or politics, and I can't imagine quizbowlers avoid learning about those topics in their free time either.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Auroni »

Tees-Exe Line wrote: Also, Auroni, since when has editing questions on a given subject become a prerequisite for arguing that its representation should be reduced? I don't waste time editing mythology questions because I don't care at all about learning mythology, and because I think studying mythology-as-mythology is a waste of time, it ought to be reduced in the quizbowl distribution. If only mythology editors are allowed to participate in the discussion, that's pretty much a recipe for guaranteeing its conclusion for reasons of circularity John pointed out.
If you're an editor or writer of mythology, you're better equipped to discuss how best to write it, and to determine when the provision for the mythology distribution is incompatible with answer space, clue space, or good clue content, than someone like the many people here (yourself included) who are just saying things because they like posting. Also, nobody cares what you personally think of mythology, just like nobody cares what I personally think of historiography, because that's not a good basis for determining the distribution!
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling »

theMoMA wrote:If I were tasked with changing up the 4/4 of the distribution that the 3/3 of RMP and 1/1 of social science currently constitutes, I might suggest 1.5/1.5 "belief" (mythology, religious literature, theology, religious philosophy, etc.; must have either 1 or 2 myth questions), 1.5/1.5 "hard social science" (psychology, economics, linguistics, etc.) and 1/1 "thought" (philosophy, cultural criticism, theory, etc.).
I fully agree with this sort of distributional change.

Another consideration for quiz bowl should be the deliberate inclusion of some number of human geography questions in the geography distribution. Human geography seems to be relegated almost entirely beneath its physical cousin in the vast majority of college sets, the result being the oft-derided "atlas bowl." It is also something that is widely academically studied and bears direct human interest to us.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Auroni »

I stayed out of the whole art debate above, but for 2013 NASAT I did write a small amount of non-western art within the established distributional boundaries (in the misc arts section). I'm not going to claim that the execution is perfect, but I think I chose answerlines that make sense and clues that are significant. Here it is below:

One genre of this kind of music is played by the "Devil's Trumpets" and originated from a "Scottish dance" in Bohemia. In this kind of music, the melody and melodic harmony parts will sometimes play a third apart, resulting in dissonance with the armonia portion of the ensemble. The "son" music is a precursor to this kind of music, which was popularized by Linda Ronstadt in her album My Father's Songs. This kind of music is played by six violins, two or three trumpets, singers, guitars, vihuelas, and guitarrons. Performers of this music, which originated in Jalisco, dress like cowboys known as charros. For 10 points, name this Mexican folk music played by orchestras and bands.
ANSWER: mariachi

Two pairs of royal diadems for an ancient king and queen have been found in a tumulus in this region that was unearthed during water drainage work. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this region, home to a "fan dance" performed by women imitating images from nature and a form of blue-green "kingfisher" celadon pottery from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
ANSWER: Korean peninsula [or Hanguk; or Joseon]
[10] Later Korean ceramics were made from this material, heavily used in the pottery of the neighboring Ming Dynasty.
ANSWER: porcelain
[10] In both Chinese and Korean art, the "viewing" types of these objects were highly prized. These objects formed the "islands" in many Japanese zen gardens.
ANSWER: rocks [or stones; or synonyms]

EDIT: Matt Bollinger produced non-western art questions for the 2012 incarnation of NASAT, as well:

A statue of one of these figures shows fire rising from his head as he is "at the moment of victory." Four of these figures face the four cardinal directions at the heart of the Ananda Temple. The Mogao Caves are sometimes known as the "Caves of the Thousand" of these figures. Statues of these figures often have long ear lobes, a topknot called the <i>ushnisha</i>, and hair in curls resembling snail shells. Gigantic statues of these figures carved out of sandstone in Bamiyan, Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban. For 10 points, name these beings depicted in Southeast Asian art, who include Maitreya, Amitabha, and Siddhartha Gautama.
ANSWER: _Buddha_s [or statues of _Buddha_s; prompt on statues of _Siddhartha_ Gautama]

This people's trapezoidal doorways can be seen in villages in the Sacred Valley, which contains Pisac. This civilization built their capital city in the shape of a puma, whose tail is formed by two rivers. They built a magnificent temple to their sun god called the "Golden Enclosure." Without using mortar, they created walls so tight that a knife could not be wedged through their stones. One of their cities is next to a mountain that, viewed sideways, resembles a human face; that city, with a name meaning "Old Peak," was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. For 10 points, name this Andean civilization that built Machu Picchu in modern-day Peru.
ANSWER: the _Inca_

This art form's <i>aragoto</i> style relied on emotive poses called <i>mie</i> to establish character. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this form of Japanese dance-drama created by Okuni of Izumo.
ANSWER: _kabuki_
[10] A popular kabuki play, <i>Chushingura</i>, tells the story of these historical warriors. These former retainers of Asano Naganori killed an official named Kira to avenge their master.
ANSWER: the _47 Ronin_ [or _47 Samurai_; prompt on partial answer]
[10] These female Japanese entertainers were trained in music and dance. Arthur Golden wrote the "Memoirs" of one of these people.
ANSWER: _geisha_
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by The Ununtiable Twine »

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:Another consideration for quiz bowl should be the deliberate inclusion of some number of human geography questions in the geography distribution. Human geography seems to be relegated almost entirely beneath its physical cousin in the vast majority of college sets, the result being the oft-derided "atlas bowl." It is also something that is widely academically studied and bears direct human interest to us.
This is the best post anyone has made on the forums in at least a month. What do you have against human geography, quizbowl? Hearing 2/2 or 3/3 of human geography per set never hurt anyone. Such topics expand upon geography as more than "memorize these mountains." There is so much human geography to be had - expanding on this subject matter would be great as we trivialize it somewhat these days.

I suppose I have a slightly off-topic question that pertains to distribution somewhat so I'll ask it in this thread since it seems like the best place. Why don't we have more literature tossups on things that are fantasy/science fiction related? I'm not talking about making it a major part of the distribution, maybe just somewhere between 1/1 and 2/2 per set on major things in those genres would be great. I feel like there are a lot of deep, interesting questions to be written in those areas and either no one writes them or they rarely ever make a set.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Cheynem »

Human geography is a major feature of how HSAPQ wrote Geography Bowl this year (i.e. geography focused not so much on atlas stuff, but on the culture, people, traditions, etc. of specific locations that rewards knowledge of places, not looking at maps). Once that set is public, we can walk through some of the answerlines and how this can be a blueprint for better geography questions in quizbowl.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

Human geography is great. I'm all for it.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Cheynem wrote:Human geography is a major feature of how HSAPQ wrote Geography Bowl this year (i.e. geography focused not so much on atlas stuff, but on the culture, people, traditions, etc. of specific locations that rewards knowledge of places, not looking at maps). Once that set is public, we can walk through some of the answerlines and how this can be a blueprint for better geography questions in quizbowl.
Last year's set should have a bunch of this too, though perhaps less so. In general, sometimes people do exciting things in high school writing which often go overlooked in collegiate writing circles.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
The critique of myth is not that the texts are artifacts; it's that they're anachronistic bullshit. The argument that's been put forward in favor of myth is that it has an impact on literature, but the point I made above is that you don't get to then come back and say "this is totally different from literature because it's a telling artifact." Quite the opposite.

Also, Auroni, since when has editing questions on a given subject become a prerequisite for arguing that its representation should be reduced? I don't waste time editing mythology questions because I don't care at all about learning mythology, and because I think studying mythology-as-mythology is a waste of time, it ought to be reduced in the quizbowl distribution. If only mythology editors are allowed to participate in the discussion, that's pretty much a recipe for guaranteeing its conclusion for reasons of circularity John pointed out.
Forgive me, but I fail to see how the stories undergirding the collective heritage of the world are 'anachronistic bullshit' or a waste of time. Post as you like, Marshall, but your argument is quickly degenerating into personal rage and is losing its seriousness by the minute.

EDIT: Let me note that I'm not completely opposed to the folding of religion and myth into 1.5/1.5 "belief", partially by virtue of the askable answer space. You want to write a tournament with that distro, that's your perogative. Go ahead and write it, and if it draws a large field because of the revised distro, more power to you. But I'd like to counter some of the points about myth made upthread.
Tees-Exe Line wrote:bedtime stories
Yes, myth has a very low barrier to entry, but so what? People learn about 'academic' subjects all kinds of ways. I can sympathize with (though I don't fully accept) the argument that the current 1/1 myth distribution has engendered an arms race to ask about increasingly more obscure figures. Many people start internalizing myths as children, so when we take that knowledge and transfer it to quizbowl, there is an inclination towards asking about more obscure topics, since the basic stories are so well-known. But I believe Ike successfully countered this trend by writing ANFORTAS, and it can be done again. And how are they just bedtime stories? How about the messages that myth tells us about a culture, when you go deep into it? Example: Noted earliest-story-of-humankind The Epic of Gilgamesh is among the best windows we have into ancient Mesopotamia, and all that erotica isn't my idea of a child's bedtime story.

Last, a rather minor point:
theMoMa wrote:It does defy common sense, in my mind at least, that all of the ink that has been spilled producing "American literature" is tested just as often as the various texts that make up myths across the world
What, 4000 years of myth passed down the generations can't hold a candle to 400 years of American lit (most of it in the past 200)? Sure, more ink has been spilled on American lit that is actually askable, but I don't buy the argument that it eclipses the collective myths of the world in and of itself. I guess my problem isn't with the argument for reducing myth per se, it's with this stigmatization of myth as somehow less worthy than American lit or the other disciplines. Yes: literature is still being written, history marches on, and science, philosophy, art, and even religion advance ever forward while Homer stays dead. But he's still got his place in the world.

Perhaps hundreds of years of now, when we're all dead and a great war will have altered history, somebody will write the Epic of Marshall Steinbaum and add a new cast of characters to the myth canon.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Why don't we have more literature tossups on things that are fantasy/science fiction related?
These questions already exist; they're either coming up occasionally in the literature distribution, as they should, or coming up occasionally in the trash distribution, as they should, depending on what fantasy and/or sci-fi books you're talking about.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

I think it's pretty obvious that myths have a literary quality; in many instances they are quite literally the preserved literary traditions of pre-modern civilizations. Capital-L Literature did not exist as we understand it 2000 years ago. What existed was oral storytelling or compilations of stories or other similar communication of tradition, which was of course intertwined with religious observance of some form or another. On the other hand, Literature as we experience and understand it today (probably as a consequence of Romantic influence) tends to designate a sort of purposefully artful aesthetic production. The line between the two obviously isn't bright and clear, but to my mind, there's enough to support the thesis that while Literature and myth originate from the same roots, they are sufficiently distinct in the ways that they are produced and in the ways that people approach them to warrant myth being a separate section of the distribution.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Why don't we have more literature tossups on things that are fantasy/science fiction related?
Because the majority of genre fiction is appallingly written garbage, and I speak as someone who has a special fondness for much of that garbage.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

grapesmoker wrote:
The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Why don't we have more literature tossups on things that are fantasy/science fiction related?
Because the majority of genre fiction is appallingly written garbage, and I speak as someone who has a special fondness for much of that garbage.
While that's true, a lot of the things in the lit distribution are appallingly-written garbage too ("Howl", anyone??), which is why I really don't like using quality as a metric for deciding what gets asked about or not. Not every Great Book is actually a great book.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

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What, 4000 years of myth passed down the generations can't hold a candle to 400 years of American lit (most of it in the past 200)? Sure, more ink has been spilled on American lit that is actually askable, but I don't buy the argument that it eclipses the collective myths of the world in and of itself. I guess my problem isn't with the argument for reducing myth per se, it's with this stigmatization of myth as somehow less worthy than American lit or the other disciplines. Yes: literature is still being written, history marches on, and science, philosophy, art, and even religion advance ever forward while Homer stays dead. But he's still got his place in the world.
To be clear, I don't mean that myth is somehow less important than, say, American literature, just that weighing them the same when amount of askable material vastly differs between the two provides strong incentives to study myth that should perhaps be taken into account when discussing ideal distributions.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

grapesmoker wrote:
The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Why don't we have more literature tossups on things that are fantasy/science fiction related?
Because the majority of genre fiction is appallingly written garbage, and I speak as someone who has a special fondness for much of that garbage.
As the owner of several dozen Star Wars novels, I concur.
RyuAqua wrote:a lot of the things in the lit distribution are appallingly-written garbage too ("Howl", anyone??)
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo »

RyuAqua wrote:Not every Great Book is actually a great book.
Like Uncle Tom's Cabin and the like? (I'm going off Orwell here). Perhaps some fantasy and sci-fi will become 'lit' with time. I can see Lord Dunsany and Algernon Blackwood getting asked in an academic question.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

RyuAqua wrote:While that's true, a lot of the things in the lit distribution are appallingly-written garbage too ("Howl", anyone??)
Amen.
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Re: Suggestions for a new ACF distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

RyuAqua wrote:While that's true, a lot of the things in the lit distribution are appallingly-written garbage too ("Howl", anyone??), which is why I really don't like using quality as a metric for deciding what gets asked about or not. Not every Great Book is actually a great book.
True that. However, there exist generic conceptions of whether something has literary merit or not. You may not like Howl and I can't stand Dickens, but I think both of those things have a literary merit notably absent in much of genre fiction. I mean, we don't ask about Keanu Reeve's greatest hits either in film questions. Some minimal standard of quality is desirable here, or at least some consensus about whether the work in question represent some serious attempt at literature. I'm not saying there isn't some genuinely lit-worthy science fiction out there, but as a rule, most of it is pretty bad, and it's just as well we don't ask about it. I'm fond of Matt Weiner's argument that we don't need to encourage people to read pulp they'll read on their own time anyway.
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