Overrepresentation of World Lit Topics

Old college threads.
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recfreq
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Post by recfreq »

vsirin wrote:
grapesmoker wrote: Also, dear gimmick accounts: your joke is funny exactly once. After that, you have to create a new gimmick to be funny again. It also helps to post a parody post soon after the original instead of waiting 2 weeks.
Oh, snap! JamesDinanProxy, you got served!
At least he reads the posts. (I meant plays are not underrepresented, of course. I was also saying what one _ought_ to do most of the time, which is probly not such a good idea in a QB forum.)
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Post by ValenciaQBowl »

I further reject this notion of some sort of "disconnect" between QB and the real world as far as literature goes (that is to say, if the "real world" is taken to mean the set of educated, well-read individuals). I don't understand where this idea is coming from; we already operate on a shared consensus that takes into account a work's literary merit (usually as evaluated by various other well-read and smart people, not necessarily part of the QB community).
If we define "disconnect" as meaning that literary works are referenced in QB that are not read/considered that important outside the game (whether at your local Borders or in English depts.), then such a disconnect most definitely exists. I don't think this is bad, either. But there's no way you can convince me that there aren't a lot of authors/works that a top-flight player needs to know to compete at levels higher than ACF Regionals that just aren't much part of the general curriculum for literature majors, and are much less likely to be found at even a literary bookstore. Who reads New Grub Street, Simplicius, Michael Kolhaas or a lot of the harder world lit works that are in the QB canon in college or for pleasure unless their major is in the literature of the language in which they're written? I don't think you'll find most of those at your local chain bookstore. And I could grab a bunch of lit professors whether here at Valencia or at a four-year school like UF and be reasonably sure that few of them would have read the works named above. And even if they did, they probably would not remember names of characters and such that we'd be expected to know to get a toss-up on one of them.

Of course, it works the other way, too. Authors like William Gass, Georges Bataille, and Kathy Acker, to name just three with works sitting on the office shelf near me (which I was assigned in lit courses in college) rarely if ever come up, and that's probably a good thing.

The QB canon in lit is partly self-referential, and that's fine. It's a game, not a mirror of the intellectual or literary world.
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Post by miamiqb »

ValenciaQBowl wrote:
The QB canon in lit is partly self-referential, and that's fine. It's a game, not a mirror of the intellectual or literary world.
Well said. Everyone seems to forget that this is a game rather than an academic discipline...
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Post by grapesmoker »

JamesDinanProxy wrote:is this soon enough after the original?
Yes, thank you.
If we define "disconnect" as meaning that literary works are referenced in QB that are not read/considered that important outside the game (whether at your local Borders or in English depts.),
I wouldn't take Borders as the standard of anything. I defined before what group I would like to use as my reference point: educated, well-read people. We're not really going to be comparing ourselves to people whose idea of literature is the Left Behind series, are we?
then such a disconnect most definitely exists. I don't think this is bad, either. But there's no way you can convince me that there aren't a lot of authors/works that a top-flight player needs to know to compete at levels higher than ACF Regionals that just aren't much part of the general curriculum for literature majors, and are much less likely to be found at even a literary bookstore. Who reads New Grub Street, Simplicius, Michael Kolhaas or a lot of the harder world lit works that are in the QB canon in college or for pleasure unless their major is in the literature of the language in which they're written?
I imagine that if I were to take a course in German literature, I could well expect to read Michael Kolhaas; likewise, in a British lit class New Grub Street would not be unexpected. There were numerous times I've gotten questions on works just from having seen them on the shelf at the local bookstore in Berkeley, so I don't think we're that far removed from the academic conception of good literature.
I don't think you'll find most of those at your local chain bookstore. And I could grab a bunch of lit professors whether here at Valencia or at a four-year school like UF and be reasonably sure that few of them would have read the works named above. And even if they did, they probably would not remember names of characters and such that we'd be expected to know to get a toss-up on one of them.
I don't know about professors one way or the other, but shouldn't they supposedly be experts in their field? I'd expect a professor of British literature to be fully familiar with the British canon, at least, if not that of other countries.

Yes, QB is self-referrential to some extent. But the reason we even have a canon is because we ground it in what's canonical in the broader scheme of things, namely, in the literary world. Otherwise, what would our point of reference be?
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Post by ValenciaQBowl »

I specifically mentioned that one "might" read Michael Kolhaas if one majors in German lit; I think it's distinctly less likely that one would read New Grub Street if one majors in Brit lit. So we don't disagree [edit: much] there. But as a plain old English major and grad student, I contend one is highly unlikely to see these. And I guarantee that the Germn lit major is reading all kinds of stuff we don't ask about, insh'allah.

I also contend that these are unlikely to appear in even a literary bookstore, as I asserted before. But I'm open to the possibility that someone somewhere has seen a new edition of these works in a bookstore. As to educated, well read people, I know dozens of them, including many English majors/PhD holders, and probably not many have read Bussy D'Ambois or The Man of Mode or The Pillow Book (again, just throwing out random stuff). So though I agree our canon usually recognizes works of accepted literary value, I don't agree that educated, well read "normals" outside our game will be familiar with too many of them.

Finally, literary critics/professors are not memorizers of details/minutiae from literary works. This has been covered on this board a few times before. So even if we're dealing with academically canonical works, we're worried about them in different ways from an academic reader. Which, again, is just fine.

I think we're disagreeing in degree rather than in kind. The point of reference for our game, I think, is often a question we heard about so-and-so at ACF Nats, which than floats down through the substrate of the game until it's in the canon. The first person to write that question may have encountered so-and-so in a class, or may not have; in either case, players desirous of maintaining hardcoreness (hardcority? hardcorisciousness?) then learn about so-and-so and promulgate it further. All I'm saying is that I have not found my education in literature to have been all that connected to what I've had to learn to maintain familiarity with much of the QB literature canon.
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Post by solonqb »

recfreq wrote: Similarly, how much great Indian lit really comes up? I can't name you anything in the late 1800s or 1900s. BTW let's not mistake lit written in English by Indian authors with Indian lit.
After racking my brains, I can think of precisely two authors that fit your criteria, both primarily poets. One is Rabindranath Tagore, and I'm sure he's been asked about. However, the equally influential Allama Muhammad Iqbal has not of yet reached the QB canon. Who knows, maybe coming soon to a third bonus part near you.
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Post by Nathan »

Ray: I have written questions on Lu Xun and Rickshaw Boy...I believe others have as well (he is right as to their importance).


Chris: You probably will find some Kleist in your local bookstore...anyone who does much reading in German literature will read some Kleist...he's more read in Germany than say Hesse. With that said, a sign of the qb disconnect is that Michael Kolhaas (and occasionally the Marquis of O) is what he's known for in QB. In the literary world (and in German schools) it is his plays that are the thing. Especially the Prince of Homburg and Penthelisea.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

solonqb wrote:After racking my brains, I can think of precisely two authors that fit your criteria, both primarily poets. One is Rabindranath Tagore, and I'm sure he's been asked about. However, the equally influential Allama Muhammad Iqbal has not of yet reached the QB canon. Who knows, maybe coming soon to a third bonus part near you.
I'd say Kalidasa comes up nearly as much as Tagore as far as non-English-language Indian authors. Iqbal might be more important for his historical influence and the religious content of his ideas than his purely literary value (I've seen his name in two different classes dealing with trends in Islam) and I'd like to see him and similar theorists come up more as the hard part of the bonus at appropriate tournaments.
Nathan wrote:Ray: I have written questions on Lu Xun and Rickshaw Boy...I believe others have as well (he is right as to their importance).
I can't say I've ever heard Rickshaw Boy come up, but Lu Xun is definitely common at any Regionals/Sectionals level tournament or above.
Chris: You probably will find some Kleist in your local bookstore...anyone who does much reading in German literature will read some Kleist...he's more read in Germany than say Hesse. With that said, a sign of the qb disconnect is that Michael Kolhaas (and occasionally the Marquis of O) is what he's known for in QB. In the literary world (and in German schools) it is his plays that are the thing. Especially the Prince of Homburg and Penthelisea.
I checked out an anthology of 19th century German literature from the public library a little while ago and it contained "The Earthquake in Chile" to represent Kleist.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Chris: You probably will find some Kleist in your local bookstore...anyone who does much reading in German literature will read some Kleist...he's more read in Germany than say Hesse. With that said, a sign of the qb disconnect is that Michael Kolhaas (and occasionally the Marquis of O) is what he's known for in QB. In the literary world (and in German schools) it is his plays that are the thing. Especially the Prince of Homburg and Penthelisea.
I checked out an anthology of 19th century German literature from the public library a little while ago and it contained "The Earthquake in Chile" to represent Kleist.
I have taken several German lit courses, and for Kleist we read Penthelisea and "The Earthquake in Chile." The fact is that as an undergraduate language major you aren't going to read THAT many long novels, if any. It's just too much work for a one semester survey (or even concentrated) class. The one novel I read for German lit class was Thomas Mann's short autobiographical novel Tonio Kroger. However, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't ask about any longer German (or general European/World) works of literature just because the average undergraduate isn't assigned them. After all, I'd say most classes that read say, The Magic Mountain read it in translation.
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Post by DanTheClam »

recfreq wrote:... let's not mistake lit written in English by Indian authors with Indian lit...
The quote I'm replying to is quite a ways back, and although I've just skimmed most of the thread, it doesn't look to me like this has been questioned at all; forgive me if it has.

Why in general should lit written in English by Indian authors not be considered Indian lit? Let's distinguish two cases here. I think it's clear that Kazuo Ishiguro writes Brit Lit, despite being born Japanese, while Salman Rushdie writes Indian Lit, despite writing in English and spending most of his life in English-speaking countries.

It's not about the language of choice; it's about the topic. Salman Rushdie writes, in at least the one book of his that I've read, about uniquely Indian experiences. He writes about Indian people, living in and near India, experiencing aspects of Indian history.

On the other hand, Kazuo Ishiguro (from what I can divine from questions heard and a quick googling) clearly writes about English people, having very English experiences.

Likewise, Chinua Achebe is considered an African writer, not an English one, and I think that is the correct way to consider him, for exactly the reasons given above.
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Post by Susan »

Dan wrote:It's not about the language of choice; it's about the topic. Salman Rushdie writes, in at least the one book of his that I've read, about uniquely Indian experiences. He writes about Indian people, living in and near India, experiencing aspects of Indian history.

On the other hand, Kazuo Ishiguro (from what I can divine from questions heard and a quick googling) clearly writes about English people, having very English experiences.
I disagree. For one thing, it simply isn't true that Rushdie writes only about Indian people with Indian experiences (you can make a much better case that he always writes about people with multiple or confused cultural identities), or that Ishiguro writes only about British people with British experiences (see Artist of the Floating World, A Pale View of Hills, The Unconsoled--three of his six novels, and among the others, I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue that being a clone harvested for body parts is a very English experience).

Rushdie is hard to categorize precisely because the struggle to integrate or choose between cultural identities is such a central theme in his work. I think it's easier to make a case for Ishiguro as a Japanese author than for Rushdie as an Indian one--Ishiguro's work has more in common, thematically speaking, with postwar Japanese lit as a whole than Rushdie's does with Indian lit of its era.

So how do you categorize them for a distribution? I don't have a great answer. I usually count Ishiguro under both British and Japanese lit (I wouldn't have tossups on him and Tanizaki in one packet, but nor would I include a question on him in a packet that already had 3-4 British literature questions); similarly, I count Rushdie as both British and Indian.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter »

myamphigory wrote:So how do you categorize them for a distribution? I don't have a great answer. I usually count Ishiguro under both British and Japanese lit (I wouldn't have tossups on him and Tanizaki in one packet, but nor would I include a question on him in a packet that already had 3-4 British literature questions); similarly, I count Rushdie as both British and Indian.
In my opinion, this is why we have 1/1 any English language literature in the distribution. Out of a normal 5/5, you have 1/1 British, 1/1 American, 1/1 Euro, 1/1 world, and 1/1 that typically is divided between British and American literature. I think that it is here that ambiguities like Rushdie belong. Put him in as British, then write world lit questions on non-Indian literature. Same for Ishiguro. I would actually say that he is solidly British literature because in my opinion regardless of subject matter his authorial perspective is undeniably British, but nonetheless I would put him in that middle 1/1 and like Susan said not write about Japanese world literature. People often forget that "your choice" doesn't necessarily mean "pick a category you like." It is also where multicultural and multidisciplinary questions belong.
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Post by DanTheClam »

I guess I tried to make too general a point, and in doing so ended up with something completely wrong. I think you're right that questions about Salman Rushdie himself should be categorised as both Indian and British as you suggest, but surely a question about Midnight's Children would be considered simply Indian. I see no reason to put a question on that particular work in the "ambiguous other" category; there are of course clear British colonial influences in the subject matter, but at the same time the book is obviously written from an Indian perspective about Indian people and their own internal struggles, rather than written largely about the conflict between British and Indian culture.

Likewise, if you write a question on Artist of the Floating World, it should be considered simply Japanese lit, but if you write a question on Remains of the Day, it's clearly simply British. In short, yes, authors like those mentioned can be halfway between two categories, and I'm sure many of their works as well fit between two categories, but there are certain of their works, including many of their most famous and most frequently asked ones, which clearly fall into one category or another. Sometimes this is a world lit category, sometimes it's another category like British lit.
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Post by solonqb »

This isn't too practical classification, but I think it's generally agreeable to clasify Satanic Verses and everything afterwards (Moor's Last Sigh, etc.) as British Lit, and everything before, (Shame, Haroon and the Sea of Stories, Midnight's Children) as Indian Lit. THere is definitely a change in his perspective after Satanic Verses.
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Post by Hopesworth »

can we say Garcia Marquez? He shows up in every tournament. So does Chekhov.
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Post by Rothlover »

Yeah, jeez... what did those two nobodies ever write to come up so much? "Love in the Time of Scurvy?" Cmon... that wasn't even good enough for Marge to waste a camera on. And Chekov... he did that play about some sort of orchard (Peach was it?) that Peter Griffen totally hated. Man, soooo unfair.
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Post by miamiqb »

Hopesworth wrote:can we say Garcia Marquez? He shows up in every tournament. So does Chekhov.
I used to think the same things in high school. I mean, cmon, no one has EVER read "A Doll House"? It must be terrible as all 'great; lit. We all used to groan those questions and it became a list memorization buzzer race.

But I think as you move into college and take lit courses that expose you to those works you will see that a lot of these authors are fairly significant (and pretty damn good writers as well). Garcia Marquez is probably the foremost Latin American author (though I personally dislike his style, but that is off-topic). So he is fairly important. Chekhov I have not read but will be reading soon (have the book on my desk right now). Ibsen is considered one of the greatest (if not the greatest) playwrights of the modern drama era, worldwide. Read "A Doll House". It will surprise you (I was shocked to find I actually ENJOYED this so-called 'great' lit)
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