Ratio of American History to European/World History

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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by at your pleasure » Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:45 pm

I want to point out two things.
1. At least some of what we are talking about should really not go into history distributions, but rather into something else. For instance, I would see religous history as being in part at least as fitting in the philiosophy distribution. Beyond that, as Mike says, it depends more on how it is written.
2. The limiting factor here is not academic importance, but askability. I mean, nobody would doubt that there are quite a few siginficant paintings involving St. Jerome*. However, could enough of them be reasonably asked about to make for a good tossup? If not, we will have to introduce paintings of St. Jerome into the canon by the usual gradual method. Likewise, nobody would doubt that a question on Tertullian or something along those lines(Incidentally, Agustine at least comes up pretty freqently), but how well would that question be converted?

*Admittedly, there are more widely represented religous figures in art, but whatever.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:00 pm

MikeWormdog wrote:...disease and medical-type questions currently seem to be less popular or less "science" than some other topics. If Freud still counts as "psychology," shouldn't questions on Koch, Ehrlich, Lister, Pasteur, et al., fit somewhere in science? Or should they all be in some larger "history" distribution? I don't think anyone would argue that they're irrelevant or discredited or even unknown to scientists. As far as I know, we still practice antiseptic surgery and vaccinate people. They also don't fit well into a "philosophy of science" subcategory, unless we lump them in "germ theory."
Well, again, there's the whole "it's how you write them" question. Like, this is a question I wrote for Science Non-Strosity, which I'm sure suffers from some sort of problem but I'm rather fond of:
Science Non-Strosity Packet 9 Question 11 wrote:A G/A single nucleotide polymorphism at position 22018 of a certain gene on chromosome 2, or a C/T or T/T single nucleotide polymorphism at position 13910 of that gene, is a marker for the lack of this disease. Campbell and Matthews hypothesized that Charles Darwin suffered from the systemic form of this disease, which is often mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome. Often diagnosed through the Hydrogen Breath Test, it rarely occurs before the age of six because, in sufferers of this disease, the promotor for a certain enzyme is not switched off until around that age. That enzyme breaks down a certain disaccharide into glucose and galactose. For 10 points, name this inability to digest a sugar commonly found in dairy products.
ANSWER: lactose intolerance
I don't think anyone would have a problem labeling that science. I think that the inoculation tossup at last year's CO history (too lazy to find thread) was a pretty good example of a "disease-ish" tossup that I would have no problem labeling history.

On the other hand, a lot of disease questions, especially those written by non-scientists, end up being (1) thrown into the science distribution because they can't write real science and (2) along the lines of "There was some outbreak of this disease in Randomtania in Eighteen-oh-long-time-ago and Doctor Iveneverheardofthisdude cured a bunch of people during an outbreak in Nobodycaresville. Symptoms include symptoms that are probably common to all sorts of diseases and which I lifted off WebMD or Wikipedia. Here's a sentence about its vaccination. For 10 points, name this disease caused by whatever causes the disease." Like, there aren't any "real" science clues, and unless you're buzzing off "Randomtania" or "Nobodycaresville" you're probably not getting any useful history clues either.

Just to summarize:
Good disease questions can fall into either history or science.
Questions dealing largely with the mechanism by which the disease acts, tests used to diagnosis the disease, drugs used to treat the disease, etc. are almost always science questions. There can be a few historical clues and people usually won't complain.
Questions dealing largely with outbreaks of a disease, social responses to a disease, etc. are almost always history questions. There can be a few science clues and people usually won't complain.
Questions like the one in the previous paragraph are terrible questions and should not be submitted as science, history, or anything else.

I think a lot of the lack of "disease" questions result from them not being easy to classify and the fact that most disease questions are terribly written and wouldn't make it in the tournament regardless of what they were labeled as.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by theMoMA » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:20 pm

For what it's worth, Durer's St. Jerome in his Study is quite a notable engraving. I'm not sure if there have been tossups on it, but it's certainly famous enough to warrant a tossup on "St. Jerome in painting" at higher levels.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:30 pm

cvdwightw wrote:There was some outbreak of this disease in Randomtania in Eighteen-oh-long-time-ago and Doctor Iveneverheardofthisdude cured a bunch of people during an outbreak in Nobodycaresville. Symptoms include symptoms that are probably common to all sorts of diseases and which I lifted off WebMD or Wikipedia. Here's a sentence about its vaccination. For 10 points, name this disease caused by whatever causes the disease.
I would totally FIFTEEEEEN that one... but there's no power mark!
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:35 pm

MikeWormdog wrote:The most famous person writing about that era is Peter Brown at Princeton (I'm sure Jeff knows who he is).
Well, yes, but that's because Jacob Mikanowski and I both took his class, then spent the entirety of the 2001-2002 quizbowl season buzzer-racing on early Christian content.

Beyond the Princeton connection, I think he's probably best off as a third bonus part.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by rylltraka » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:52 pm

I'd have to agree with Jeff here re Peter Brown. While he may be the best known figure in Late Antique History, the best known figure in a minor discipline does not a great tossup make.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by MikeWormdog » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:25 am

I wasn't commenting on Peter Brown's tossup-worthiness, just making a point that he was probably more famous or widely read than most of the other names brought up in that one post (like MacMullen). That said, anyone who takes a medieval survey course or something involving the later Roman Empire/early Christianity probably comes across his name or reads something by him.

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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Awehrman » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:35 pm

Coincidentally there is a thread going on the h-net Early American history listserve (H-OIEAHC) about the "Top Ten" historians. Jeff, Mike, and others might want to check it out for even more historiographical discussion in case you just can't get enough. I thought this list was pretty good, but certainly most of them are not household names to non-historians:

Thucydides
Giambattista Vico
Edward Gibbon
Leopold Von Ranke
Jacob Burckhardt
Sir Lewis Namier
C. M. Andrews
Perry Miller
Bernard Bailyn
John Murrin

I might add E. P. Thompson as well as contemporary American historians, Gordon Wood, Edmund Morgan, Eugene Fox-Genovese, Eric Foner, and perhaps Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (the only historian that I know who is featured on bumper stickers and t-shirts). All are widely read but still probably best suited for bonus parts or other clue material.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Brian Ulrich » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:10 pm

It's a rather Eurocentric list. Doesn't Ibn Khaldun merit a mention? What about the "Imam of Historians," al-Masudi?
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Awehrman » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:20 pm

Definitely, Brian. It's from an Early American history listserve, so it's heavily European and American (but so are quizbowl and most history departments). There's no way that three Early Americanists should make the top ten. I found the act of historians picking their personal top ten to be a lot of fun, though.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by at your pleasure » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:42 pm

I mean, the first three on the list are definitely askable(if bonus-part material), as is Ibn Khaldun(come to think of it, I've heard Khaldun come up somewhere). Burkhardt, however, is probably an ACF nationals hard part.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Great Billy Archery » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:15 pm

You're gonna be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood, talkin' about, you know, the pre-revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization.

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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by MikeWormdog » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:54 pm

Awehrman wrote: I thought this list was pretty good, but certainly most of them are not household names to non-historians:

Thucydides, Giambattista Vico, Edward Gibbon, Leopold Von Ranke, Jacob Burckhardt, Sir Lewis Namier, C. M. Andrews, Perry Miller, Bernard Bailyn, John Murrin

I might add E. P. Thompson as well as contemporary American historians, Gordon Wood, Edmund Morgan, Eugene Fox-Genovese, Eric Foner, and perhaps Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
I think the first five are fine, and all have come up before, including Von Ranke (the "father" of modern, "scientific" history) and Burckhardt (whose Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy is kind of a big deal and has been a tossup answer at both ACF and NAQT nationals). Where's Tacitus? Bede? Eusebius? Gregory of Tours? Those dudes would be on my list, but I'm a medievalist. For moderns, I think Samuel Eliot Morrison, C. Vann Woodward, and Charles Beard for Americanists are all pretty well known. The Annales guys (Bloch, Febvre, Braudel), also maybe people like Peter Gay and Jacques Barzun (who apparently is still alive). Daniel Boorstin was en vogue in quizbowl circles a few years back, too. Eric Hobsbawm is roughly equivalent in style and famousness to E.P. Thompson.

Wood, Morgan, and Foner are pretty big names (I don't really known Fox-Genovese). Ulrich is president of the AHA this year, which is why I know her name. A look at the list of past AHA presidents also reveals some pretty well-known people (including some mentioned above):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_H ... presidents
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:27 pm

I don't think there's anything wrong with writing a question on diseases with historical clues by the way. That seems like a good way of getting more social history into play, if that's your thing. From the science perspective, many of those questions suffer from the problems that Dwight talked about which is why they get axed from science categories or rewritten to include actual science content.

I also have to express my objection to questions on things like phlogiston and other extinct theories. I'm willing to concede that a theoretical perfect question on such a thing with history clues might be written but I'm not sure anyone is able to instantiate it. My guess is such questions would quickly devolve into "which obsolete thing am I supposed to guess now?" or end up as buzzer races if the writing was sufficiently obscure. And since the content of these theories is not something anyone actually learns, I'm not sure where the middle clues are going to come from. Just a bad idea all around.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:46 pm

I'd say the risk with writing solely history-based disease questions is being trapped in a small "historical disease" canon. A question on Marfan's that briefly mentions Paganini and/or Abraham Lincoln in between biology clues is fine, but how many diseases other than, say, yellow fever, black plague, malaria and cholera are there whose historical context is canonical enough to be more than "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, giveaway?" That being said, I love interesting biography clues or history clues about diseases when combined with biology clues.

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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Sir Thopas » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:59 pm

HKirsch wrote:*EDIT* Who is responsible for replacing my carefully typed profanities with "honkbal?"
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Kyle » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:22 pm

Ibn Khaldun could be a tossup at a high-level tournament (and indeed I think I remember a tossup on him), but (a) he would fit as much in social science as in history and (b) it's really, really hard to write a decent tossup on Ibn Khaldun. I tried once and never produced anything even vaguely pyramidal. I seem to remember that both the tossup I discarded and the tossup on him that I actually saw boiled down to an explanation of his main theory in increasingly less vague terminology until the words "nomad" and "FTP." There are topics that are askable but which don't lend themselves to being asked about. That doesn't mean you can't do it, just that it's difficult. I suspect that writing tossups on other historians would also be hard to do. In my opinion, it's way easier to include them in bonuses or in lead-ins about other historical topics.

The historian we need to include in the canon is Usamah ibn Munqidh, who was a Zengid chronicler in Syria during the Crusades and who hated Saladin. He wrote a particularly vivid description of the sexual immodesty of the Crusaders (better than the one below) that I have seen on syllabi for no fewer than four Harvard courses taught by three separate faculty members. For a guy of his level of obscurity, that one passage sure makes the rounds! I figure that if it is taught in that many classes then we can write tossups about him at ACF Fall and stuff, right?
Usamah ibn Munqidh wrote:One day this Frank went home and found a man with his wife in the same bed. He asked him, “What could have made thee enter into my wife’s room?” The man replied, “I was tired, so I went in to rest.” “But how,” asked he, “didst thou get into my bed?” The other replied, “I found a bed that was spread, so I slept in it.” “But,” said he, “my wife was sleeping together with thee!” The other replied, “Well, the bed is hers. How could I therefore have prevented her from using her own bed?” “By the truth of my religion,” said the husband, “if thou shouldst do it again, thou and I would have a quarrel.” Such was for the Frank the entire expression of his disapproval and the limit of his jealousy.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Brian Ulrich » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:37 am

Kyle wrote:Ibn Khaldun could be a tossup at a high-level tournament (and indeed I think I remember a tossup on him), but (a) he would fit as much in social science as in history and (b) it's really, really hard to write a decent tossup on Ibn Khaldun. I tried once and never produced anything even vaguely pyramidal. I seem to remember that both the tossup I discarded and the tossup on him that I actually saw boiled down to an explanation of his main theory in increasingly less vague terminology until the words "nomad" and "FTP." There are topics that are askable but which don't lend themselves to being asked about. That doesn't mean you can't do it, just that it's difficult. I suspect that writing tossups on other historians would also be hard to do. In my opinion, it's way easier to include them in bonuses or in lead-ins about other historical topics.

The historian we need to include in the canon is Usamah ibn Munqidh, who was a Zengid chronicler in Syria during the Crusades and who hated Saladin. He wrote a particularly vivid description of the sexual immodesty of the Crusaders (better than the one below) that I have seen on syllabi for no fewer than four Harvard courses taught by three separate faculty members. For a guy of his level of obscurity, that one passage sure makes the rounds! I figure that if it is taught in that many classes then we can write tossups about him at ACF Fall and stuff, right?
Usamah ibn Munqidh wrote:One day this Frank went home and found a man with his wife in the same bed. He asked him, “What could have made thee enter into my wife’s room?” The man replied, “I was tired, so I went in to rest.” “But how,” asked he, “didst thou get into my bed?” The other replied, “I found a bed that was spread, so I slept in it.” “But,” said he, “my wife was sleeping together with thee!” The other replied, “Well, the bed is hers. How could I therefore have prevented her from using her own bed?” “By the truth of my religion,” said the husband, “if thou shouldst do it again, thou and I would have a quarrel.” Such was for the Frank the entire expression of his disapproval and the limit of his jealousy.
I actually think pyramidal Ibn Khaldun toss-ups are easy to write, but then I have a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern history with a dissertation that involved the relationship between tribes and dynastic states, so I perhaps have an advantage in that area. Usamah b. Munqidh is an interesting suggestion - he's kind of like Michael Grant to classicists or Steven Ambrose to Americanists in that he's assigned to undergraduates more frequently than grad students, or in his case, researchers, pay attention to him. Frankly, I suspect those are the most askable historians.
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Re: Ratio of American History to European/World History

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:43 am

BTW, anyone who (1) enjoys writing European history tossups; and (2) will not be playing Missouri Open or one of its mirrors is welcome to volunteer for EuroFest, the upcoming tournament that will be entirely European History.

Here's the link to more info:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6884

(Obviously, if you will be at MO or MO mirror, I'd be thrilled if you played it)
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