Quizbowl v. Trivia

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Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:19 pm

I was having a discussion with a kid at school who thought that quizbowl was the same as trivia. I was trying to explain the differences, but I had a little trouble thinking of how to explain it without having a 10-minute discussion of pyramidality and progressive bonuses. So here's my question: how do you explain the differences between quizbowl and trivia to someone with little or no quizbowl experience?
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:33 pm

Concisely: Trivia often tests knowledge of one or two random obscure facts. Quizbowl tests deeper knowledge, includes more information, and tends to be about more "important" things. For example, some quirk of a president vs. his early political career.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by aestheteboy » Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:33 pm

Quizbowl clues are things that you encounter if you have a good liberal arts education. Trivia usually has no academic significance.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:01 pm

Trivia is usually worthless/ interesting only in that it is quirky. For example, knowing that elephants can't jump is trivia, but knowing the difference between Indian and African elephants isn't. There is a qbwiki article on the topic here.

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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Tue Sep 30, 2008 9:02 pm

MLWGS-Gir wrote:Concisely: Trivia often tests knowledge of one or two random obscure facts. Quizbowl tests deeper knowledge, includes more information, and tends to be about more "important" things. For example, some quirk of a president vs. his early political career.
Interestingly enough, I did try to use presidential examples. I said that knowing that Abraham Lincoln was the only president to be issued a patent was trivia, while knowing that Coolidge was president when the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed is deeper knowledge tested by quizbowl.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by at your pleasure » Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:17 pm

Trivia-rewards a high capacity for random names
quizbowl-rewards a high capacity for knowing what that name did.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Fucitol » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:01 pm

I think that the line between trivia and quizbowl is arbitrary and that one fact is more "relevant" than another is bogus.
i.e.Why is Pride and Prejudice more askable(is this a real word) than Brisingr.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:09 pm

Glacierguy1 wrote:I think that the line between trivia and quizbowl is arbitrary and that one fact is more "relevant" than another is bogus.
i.e.Why is Pride and Prejudice more askable(is this a real word) than Brisingr.
Pride and Prejudice is lit by most definitions of the word, whereas Brisingr is a recent work and is thus pop culture. If they had quizbowl in Britain when Pride and Prejudice was new/popular, it would have been pop culture. Brisingr cannot be said to be academic.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:10 pm

There can be trivia v. real knowledge in both academic and trash; the two distinctions aren't the same thing.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:23 pm

This is one of the problems I was having. How do you explain relevance or "askability" to a non-quizbowl person? Do you talk about what is studied by experts in the relevant fields? As in, literary critics study Pride and Prejudice, but not Brisingr?
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:40 pm

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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by ClemsonQB » Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:25 pm

This is simple, Brisingr has no literary merit; Pride and Prejudice does.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:45 pm

ClemsonQB wrote:This is simple, Brisingr has no literary merit; Pride and Prejudice does.
As Matt pointed out, this is only relevant if we're talking about an academic set. The fact that the one anagrams to Ribs Grin while the other to Re: Jaundiced Dipper is trivial in either context.

EDIT: also, though I personally doubt it, I think that this falls into the domain of why it's hard to write on literature written in the last quarter-century (or when the author's career began then), let alone last five years: it's hard to judge its relevance to the larger corpus of literature. Though LoTR is still not acceptable for a lit distribution, it's a whole more relevant than Todd Strasser, and we can't judge where Brisingr fits yet; we can only make a really, really reliable guess.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:09 am

I had never heard of Brisingr before this thread. I teach a group of gifted 7th graders, and one of them brought it to class today because he is in the middle of reading it.

Perhaps you could explain that some news ends up in The Economist and some news ends up in People. Similarly, some information ends up in Quizbowl and some information ends up on game shows.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:46 pm

As Matt said, there is a distinction between "Trivia" and "Real Knowledge" regardless of whether it is academic or trash.

To give an example from trash, knowing that Houston's basketball team beat UCLA on national television to end UCLA's record winning streak is "real knowledge" (from a trash point of view) because that game is considered the game that brought college basketball to prominence as an American sport. Knowing that Elvin Hayes scored a lot of points for Houston is "real knowledge" because it is relevant to understanding why Elvin Hayes is important in the history of basketball. Knowing that the final score of the game was 71-69 as opposed to 85-76 or 62-60, or that Hayes scored 39 points as opposed to 36 or 48 is "trivia" because final score of the game or the exact number of points someone scored is almost always not relevant to why the game or any of its players were relevant/important.

I think this is often the main reason for a lot of sports questions getting criticized - they focus a lot on this kind of trivia, which bizarrely encourages list memorizing for trash (e.g. tennis/golf "He won Minor Tournament X in Year Y" and baseball "In YEAR he hit BATTING AVERAGE with NUMBER home runs").
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:56 pm

I wouldn't say that Brisingr and Twilight are inherently trivial (they are, however, inherently bad). They are definitely non-academic and non-literary, but they are not unaskable (but they must be trash). On that note, what makes someone askable under the literature distribution? Do the Nobel and the Booker make Coetzee askable? Does the massive popularity of John Grisham make him askable?
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:02 pm

everyday847 wrote: EDIT: also, though I personally doubt it, I think that this falls into the domain of why it's hard to write on literature written in the last quarter-century (or when the author's career began then), let alone last five years: it's hard to judge its relevance to the larger corpus of literature. Though LoTR is still not acceptable for a lit distribution, it's a whole more relevant than Todd Strasser, and we can't judge where Brisingr fits yet; we can only make a really, really reliable guess.
Was Tolkien's stuff considered trash before the films came out? Or perhaps "would it have been" is a better way to phrase it; not sure about the state of HS and college quizbowl from back then.

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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:06 pm

la2pgh wrote:I wouldn't say that Brisingr and Twilight are inherently trivial (they are, however, inherently bad). They are definitely non-academic and non-literary, but they are not unaskable (but they must be trash). On that note, what makes someone askable under the literature distribution? Do the Nobel and the Booker make Coetzee askable? Does the massive popularity of John Grisham make him askable?
Coetzee has come up before in several tournaments that I can recall offhand; I think that earning an award like the Nobel, Booker or Pulitzer makes a work of literature more notable, and probably more likely to show up in an academic setting than something like Grisham's works, which still fall under, IMO, trash lit (or in this case, trivia). It's still possible to write perfectly pyramidal questions about them, but they're not notable for doing much more than being works of fiction that have sold millions of copies.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:53 pm

Would classic science-fiction be considered under Lit or Trash? It would seem to make sense for the former, since many novels that were made in the 1950s and 60s (Catch-22 comes to mind) are typically classified as Lit.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:00 pm

hwhite wrote:Would classic science-fiction be considered under Lit or Trash? It would seem to make sense for the former, since many novels that were made in the 1950s and 60s (Catch-22 comes to mind) are typically classified as Lit.
Yes, and would the Beatles be considered music or trash? What about John Williams? I can recall some lively discussions on this at past practices.

2001 is another one that could be film/lit or trash.

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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:28 pm

"Classic" science fiction I would contend needs to be considered trash. I think the only exceptions deserving enough would be things like serious fiction that includes certain elements of science fiction (as opposed to whole works of it). I would certainly hope that LOTR was still trash even before the movies, but I similarly cannot comment.
As for like the Beatles and John Williams, I mean, come on people. The Beatles are not classical music, nor are they "miscellaneous" fine arts. Just because a lot of people like them doesn't make them different objectively than any other pop/rock band. Do you want to start arguing that Radiohead is part of the Arts distribution too? I mean, really, just because people like someone doesn't put it on a pedestal and suddenly make it different than what it is. John Williams is trash because almost exclusively he works on pop culture (not to mention damn near plagiarizes for it). He is not a serious composer, even separate from the fact that many important composers do some film work, by virtue of the fact his work is laughably worthless.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:44 pm

Also, where is the point of this discussion going. Didn't we make it clear there is a significant difference between discussion what is Quizbowl vs. Trivia and what is Academic vs. Trash.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by powerplant » Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:04 am

As far as sci-fi goes, what about Philip K. Dick? He's in the Library of America series.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:08 am

powerplant wrote:As far as sci-fi goes, what about Philip K. Dick? He's in the Library of America series.
Yeah, well, so is HP Lovecraft and that's as trashy as it gets.

There is no explicit rule that can be relied upon 100% of the time to tell you which genre lit is and is not trash. It's just something you have to internalize by coming at the desire to write good questions in good faith and reading old packets that are good. Unfortunately, there are some groups (cough*NAQT*cough) who have a vested interest in cramming trash into the lit distro, but if you avoid their pitfalls you can pick this up fairly soon.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Ike » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:17 am

Since this thread is turning into a distinction between Academic and Trash.
I think also what needs to be kept in mind is how and where people are going to learn this stuff. The following points are some clear cut examples, hopefully to distinguish between fuzzy patches.

If I write a tossup on Dick giving clues from A Scanner Darkly, then in my book no questions asked, its definitely trash because most people are going to know it from that movie, despite the few that legitimately have read it. Now, whether you want to debate whether Dick is Trash or not is a different story.

Similarly, I can't go about writing James Bond novels as actual literature, despite my personal feelings that some of the passages of literature within the novels are of literary merit for belletristic reasons, etc. In the QB sense, I dont think its fair to pass off stuff like that as actual literature.

I know McCarthy's The Road is being adapted into a movie in a short time, and if it turns out to be a breakout success, grossing tons of money, (like maybe 500 mill or who knows what) then its going to be trash now because many people's knowledge of the book draws from the film, despite the fact the book form has literary merit; I think quizbowl writers need to keep that in mind when writing stuff.

And Matt brings up a good point about NAQT's literature. I don't see why NAQT does quesitons on sci-fi / children's literature and still call it literature. If they want to, why not expand the Trash distribution and not be so roundabout about it. (Not advocating that they cut literature, just that they stop being roundabout.) Similarly, for geography I should be seeing some tossups on fictional countries like Mushroom Kingdom, and their fine arts needs to include some Klingon shrines. No really. You don't see history getting hosed like that. Even though science is SCIENCE!, you don't learn stuff on Dyson Spheres from listening to your parents reading stories at night, nor do you learn about Kuiper's life and work from reading sci-fi novels: there is a far better possiblity that you come across those in an academic discipline, then the literature from an actual literary class.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Sir Thopas » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:16 am

But what if I power a tossup after watching Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice?
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Ike » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:40 am

I've yet been able to power any tossups on literature based on any movie adaptations I've seen.
My example was meant to evoke something so commonplace in our lives, ie LOTR and Harry Potter, that its bizarre calling it literature. I'm not saying literature is esoteric, but seriously, many more Americans know that Gandalf is a wizard rather than knowing who the Magician of Lubliln is.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by silverscreentest » Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:13 am

Ike wrote:you don't learn stuff on Dyson Spheres from listening to your parents reading stories at night
That depends on the parents. :grin:

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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:52 am

It is insanity to assert that a book become trash because there is a popular movie adaptation. This means books like Doctor Zhivago, Gone with the Wind, or the Maltese Falcon cannot be considered literary because as Ike said "people are going to know it from that movie." A movie adaptation never has any impact on a book's inherent literary value and askability. However, when a popular movie is released it does mean that clues need to re-arranged. For example, No Country For Old Men needs to be at the end of a McCarthy question, while it was probably lead-in material before the movie came out.

I think the standard to decide if something falls into literature is to evaluate if something has academic, literary merit. This standard solves the issue of sci-fi and horror literature. Some horror would fall into literature such as Edgar Allan Poe, Frankenstein, or Turn of the Screw. While people like Lovecraft are not studied in an academic setting. I personally like Lovecraft's fiction and think it has merit, but my personal opinion doesn't allow me to write academic questions on him. For sci-fi I think Heinlein, Bradbury, and Verne are fair game, while I would argue Philip K. Dick's reputation as a serious writer has grown enough that he falls into literature.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:14 am

If quizbowl existed in the 19th century, I suspect that folks like Dickens and Rossini would have been trash.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Ike » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:54 am

When I say Trash, i mean in it in a QB sense and askability.
Ted is perfectly right about the it being insanity that a literary effort be demerited because of movie adaptations.
Pardon if I did not specify that exactly.
I think the standard to decide if something falls into literature is to evaluate if something has academic, literary merit. This standard solves the issue of sci-fi and horror literature.
I initially was going to say this, but I know Kent State University offers classes on Children's Literature. While I won't comment on KSU's literary merits, if they are offering it as a class, then maybe that's why some people are actually trying to make the argument for its "literary merit." KSU is an academic setting, and while I heavily question why they even offer children's literature as a class, I want sidestep any loopholes that may arise from that definition.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:01 am

I took a class on children's literature (along with some study of the role of children in literature, so we also read Lolita, Turn of the Screw, et cetera) last term. That said, it didn't include Eragon.

(Granted, it did include Matilda and Charlotte's Web. But principally we read Alice, Peter Pan, Oz, a few others, and various short stories.)

I don't know if ability to be analyzed as literature necessarily implies relevance to what we consider the literary canon.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:37 am

I guess I wasn't clear. What I meant to say is that a popular movie adaptation of a novel does not relegate a book to trash in quizbowl. Ike argued if this new movie based on The Road is popular then the novel is "going to be trash now because many people's knowledge of the book draws from the film." I disagree with this argument. A movie adaptation of a book never changes the novel's existence in the quizbowl literature canon, it only changes its place in the canon. Either the book is in the canon due to its own merits or it is not. The only bearing that this new movie would have on the quizbowl literature canon is a change in clue order for McCarthy tossups. If we used this logic, many important novels would be reduced to trash because there is a movie version that people are more likely to know than the actual novel. People are more likely to have seen the movie of The Clockword Orange or Gone with the Wind, but these books still have a place in the canon.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:34 pm

Right, and if we go too far down the road of "from what source will people acquire knowledge about this work and thereby get this tossup?" then ultimately you'd have to designate books-covered-by-Sparknotes separately (just like books-made-into-movies), since some people--heavens!--might answer a lit tossup without having read the book. As Ted said, this affects clue order, instead: leadins really shouldn't be things you can glean from a lazy summary of the text.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:03 pm

everyday847 wrote:I took a class on children's literature (along with some study of the role of children in literature, so we also read Lolita, Turn of the Screw, et cetera) last term. That said, it didn't include Eragon.

(Granted, it did include Matilda and Charlotte's Web. But principally we read Alice, Peter Pan, Oz, a few others, and various short stories.)

I don't know if ability to be analyzed as literature necessarily implies relevance to what we consider the literary canon.
I tend to think it does, or at least it ought to- if something is analyzed and taught as literature, then isn't that the very definition of academic, regardless of genre? And shouldn't the academic quizbowl canon be based on what actually comes up in real academic contexts?

I recognize that mine is probably a minority viewpoint around here.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:39 pm

I said ability to be analyzed. I can analyze the poems scratched into the doors of bathroom stalls, if not so profoundly as I can other authors (soon, on top of canonically anonymous authors like the Pearl Poet we'll have the "Here I sit, / broken-hearted" Poet) but that doesn't somehow imbue the crap I'm analyzing with literary merit.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Oct 07, 2008 4:23 pm

Well, this has definitely spiraled into a discussion of what is academic, what is trash, and where the distinction lies. A lot of this post is more relevant to the college game, though some of it is also applicable to the high school game.

I think another consideration with literature becoming popular (through movies, Oprah's book club, etc.) is that previously "obscure" works drop down both the clue difficulty and answer difficulty ladders. The clue difficulty ladder argument is fairly clear and has already been presented. I would argue that these movies also drop their source material to a lower level of difficulty.

For instance, I do not think that any Saramago novel is tossupable below Regionals level. If Blindness turns out to be a movie seen by lots of people, then I would guess that Blindness would be the first Saramago work introduced into the novice level tossup canon, simply because people would now be likely to recognize a few plot points/character names (late in the question) by having seen the movie.

Encountering a topic in a high school/college course does not necessarily make something "academic". Should we have "academic" tossups on "The Grudge" because my brother's writing class is making him analyze the differences between the Japanese and American versions? Should we steal bonus parts from former Georgia "professor" Jim Harrick Jr.'s final exam?

Neither does the fact that a topic can be (or even is!) "analyzed in an academic context" (whatever that means) imply that it must necessarily be "academic"; this can be seen from my horrible "social science" tossup on "the streets" from a previous Sun N Fun that was taken almost entirely from a "scholarly" article I had to read for a Sociology class. UCLA has a number of professors investigating hip-hop from an academic perspective; this doesn't mean that we should be putting "The Message" in the fine arts canon.

The inherent "academic" property of an answer choice is also not related to the number/percentage of people who can get the tossup/bonus part from "real" knowledge. If I answer a science question based on an element of real science that was present in a science fiction book I read, that does not make that question any less "academic".

There are only two areas that I can reasonably consider to have substantially-sized fuzzy areas between "academic" and "trash": literature and arts. Pretty much everyone agrees that Bradbury and Vonnegut are academic, and that Gaiman, Goodkind, and Niven are trash. The gray area comes with writers such as Asimov and Dick, who generally belong in the latter area (at least in my opinion) but for whom a reasonably convincing argument can be made that they belong in the former; writers such as Eco, Verne, and Wells, who generally belong in the former area (at least in my opinion) but for whom a reasonably convincing argument can be made that they belong in the latter; and writers such as Desai and Russo who are too "recent" to convincingly pigeonhole into one or the other category.

Arts is an entirely different beast. Jazz has become an entrenched part of the canon, but surely Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis are academic while Dave Koz and Diana Krall are trash (and I would argue will remain trash 20-40 years from now). The debate is over "recent" musicians such as Chick Corea and Jaco Pastorius whose oeuvre has yet to be pigeonholed. Impressionism and all sorts of abstract movements are equally "academic" as realism, and minimalism is acceptable in the "classical music" distribution - clearly the "elitism" of art does not correlate with its "academic" value. "Art film" is in such a weird place that I see it being pushed to the fringes of the canon - too academic to write on for trash, not academic enough to include in fine arts. And at what point (if any) do musicals, stage lighting, etc. cross over from trash into academic?

The solution to this problem is NOT "don't write on TOPIC X". The canon is constantly changing and evolving. The solution, rather, is to become a "respected quizbowl authority" on the subject and make those academic/trash distinctions, or to follow the advice of people whose "quizbowl authority" you trust. Don DeLillo is now considered academic, pretty much because Andrew Yaphe singlehandedly flooded the literature canon with questions on DeLillo and his works and people said "Hey, it's Andrew Yaphe, dude's got his stuff together, I'll accept his view on this borderline topic".

For instance, let's suppose Ted slips a Philip K. Dick question into the next literature tournament he's writing. If it turns out that people don't generally notice, because it's a well-written question that explores the "academic" side of Dick, then it's probably okay to start introducing Dick to the literature canon in a controlled way (e.g. don't write a tossup on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" that takes all of its clues from Blade Runner). If there is massive howling from people who would be considered roughly equivalent/higher "literature authorities" in the quizbowl world, then it's probably safe to say that Dick is going to remain in trash until the next "literature authority" decides to try to see whether the canon's ready for an expansion in that direction (perhaps Dick has gained higher significance in the academic world; perhaps some of the old guard arguing against his inclusion has retired/moved on; perhaps Ted or one of his supporters has gained more support in the quizbowl community; etc.).

The question then becomes, how does one become a respected quizbowl authority? I see there being three main steps - you can become an "authority" after completing just the first step, but more respect is earned the higher you go:
1. Become a renowned player in that subject. No one is going to respect a "quizbowl authority on Topic X" who can't claim a "specialty" in that particular subject.
2. Earn a reputation for writing and edit well-written, academic questions at appropriate difficulty on that subject. Now you are not only respected as a player, but as a writer in your chosen subject.
3. Become knowledgeable about your chosen subject from an academic standpoint OR write a well-received subject tournament that varies sub-categories and difficulty levels. Either of these shows that you have a good grasp on how to expand the canon in your chosen subject. For fairly obvious reasons on the former is preferred, but it's not realistic to expect that (e.g.) every "high-ranking literature authority" majors in a literature-related field, and writing a subject tournament is probably the best way to show that even though you might not be directly involved academically with the field, you still are able to apply the finer nuances of question and packet construction to your subject. The best example I can think of for the latter is Seth Teitler's Myth Tournament - to the best of my knowledge, he's never studied myth as an academic except for maybe a couple of general education classes, and yet his superb 2005 tournament showed that he has excellent command of what sources to use, how to vary difficulty and subject matter, how to expand the myth canon, etc. If Seth says "Topic X is in the myth canon, but Topic Y is not", then I'd readily accept that pronouncement.

This has been a long and not necessarily coherent post, so I'll leave with one final thought: J.K. Rowling and her works are not "academic".
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:31 pm

everyday847 wrote:I said ability to be analyzed. I can analyze the poems scratched into the doors of bathroom stalls, if not so profoundly as I can other authors (soon, on top of canonically anonymous authors like the Pearl Poet we'll have the "Here I sit, / broken-hearted" Poet) but that doesn't somehow imbue the crap I'm analyzing with literary merit.
I don't think there's a danger of anyone offering classes or dissertations on on the "Here I sit, / broken-hearted" Poet. Obviously there are standards.
cvdwightw wrote: There are only two areas that I can reasonably consider to have substantially-sized fuzzy areas between "academic" and "trash": literature and arts.
To a large part, this is because "trash", with the exception of sports, is largely comprised of the mass-market/popular/recent arts- movies, music, TV. You don't really have "trash history", for instance.
cvdwightw wrote:Arts is an entirely different beast. Jazz has become an entrenched part of the canon, but surely Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis are academic while Dave Koz and Diana Krall are trash (and I would argue will remain trash 20-40 years from now). The debate is over "recent" musicians such as Chick Corea and Jaco Pastorius whose oeuvre has yet to be pigeonholed. Impressionism and all sorts of abstract movements are equally "academic" as realism, and minimalism is acceptable in the "classical music" distribution - clearly the "elitism" of art does not correlate with its "academic" value.
This goes in the direction of my earlier point, that "old" arts are pretty much automatically considered academic even if they were really popular crap back in the day (there is no better example than Johann Strauss, the Justin Timberlake of the 19th Century), and anything recent has a hard time getting in, for various reasons (some of which I do agree with). As for your second part, I fail to see how citing impressionism (a 19th century movement) and minimalism somehow shows we're letting the new and non-elite movements in. Sure, minimalism is new, I guess, but it's plenty elitist. I mean, it was invented in the universities as a pushback against Schoenberg, and has "thrived" as a way to let orchestras program their occasional token piece of new music. (For the record: personally, I dig minimalism.)

A serious attempt at including "non-elitist" music within the arts distro would have to start somewhere that doesn't use traditional orchestral instruments. Like, well, "The Message."
cvdwightw wrote:3. Become knowledgeable about your chosen subject from an academic standpoint OR write a well-received subject tournament that varies sub-categories and difficulty levels. Either of these shows that you have a good grasp on how to expand the canon in your chosen subject. For fairly obvious reasons on the former is preferred, but it's not realistic to expect that (e.g.) every "high-ranking literature authority" majors in a literature-related field, and writing a subject tournament is probably the best way to show that even though you might not be directly involved academically with the field, you still are able to apply the finer nuances of question and packet construction to your subject. The best example I can think of for the latter is Seth Teitler's Myth Tournament - to the best of my knowledge, he's never studied myth as an academic except for maybe a couple of general education classes, and yet his superb 2005 tournament showed that he has excellent command of what sources to use, how to vary difficulty and subject matter, how to expand the myth canon, etc. If Seth says "Topic X is in the myth canon, but Topic Y is not", then I'd readily accept that pronouncement.
I've been vaguely considering throwing together an all-music subject tournament at some point. Emphasis would be on classical, but I'd include a good chunk of questions on high-quality popular music. Probably wouldn't be ready before the next school year, if it happens at all (and given my current workload, that's 50/50 at best).
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Sir Thopas » Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:54 pm

Vigilius Haufniensis wrote:
everyday847 wrote:I said ability to be analyzed. I can analyze the poems scratched into the doors of bathroom stalls, if not so profoundly as I can other authors (soon, on top of canonically anonymous authors like the Pearl Poet we'll have the "Here I sit, / broken-hearted" Poet) but that doesn't somehow imbue the crap I'm analyzing with literary merit.
I don't think there's a danger of anyone offering classes or dissertations on on the "Here I sit, / broken-hearted" Poet. Obviously there are standards.
I'm pretty sure graffitology is a legitimate subject, especially historical graffiti.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:06 pm

Vigilius Haufniensis wrote:I've been vaguely considering throwing together an all-music subject tournament at some point. Emphasis would be on classical, but I'd include a good chunk of questions on high-quality popular music. Probably wouldn't be ready before the next school year, if it happens at all (and given my current workload, that's 50/50 at best).
This would be exciting. Ray Luo (and Eok too, I think?) threw together a "name-that-tune" side tournament for Aztlan Cup that spanned the gamut, and it went over well.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:18 pm

Judge William wrote:
Vigilius Haufniensis wrote:
everyday847 wrote:I said ability to be analyzed. I can analyze the poems scratched into the doors of bathroom stalls, if not so profoundly as I can other authors (soon, on top of canonically anonymous authors like the Pearl Poet we'll have the "Here I sit, / broken-hearted" Poet) but that doesn't somehow imbue the crap I'm analyzing with literary merit.
I don't think there's a danger of anyone offering classes or dissertations on on the "Here I sit, / broken-hearted" Poet. Obviously there are standards.
I'm pretty sure graffitology is a legitimate subject, especially historical graffiti.
I'm pretty sure that's come up, at least as a clue for Catullus.

EDIT: not lit, but there's also Keith Haring.
Last edited by Theory Of The Leisure Flask on Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:20 pm

Winning some sort of big timey prize (Nobel, Pulitzer, Booker) should be good enough to get you consideration in the lit distribution. However, if it is one of the latter two of the aforementioned prizes, much more caution must be used, because those are far more ephemeral and do not focus upon the author's corpus of works. Surely any reputable question writer knows that Tom Clancy, JK Rowling, Christopher Paolini, and a host of other writers are not lit, but trash. I see problems with works like The Golden Compass, which is one of the 5 or so best books of the 1990s, but is also directed at childen, and The Little Prince, which is also an awesome book, but is even more child-friendly. Sci fi,fantasy, and children's lit are all border line calls. They should be decided on a case by case basis.

With music, the real trouble would seem to deal with stuff that isn't classical, jazz, or pop (in a more modern sense), like blues, big band, or roots music. Jazz should only fall under that 1/1 "Your choice". I think that guys like Pastorius and Corea should fall under arts, because that stuff sure isn't pop.

Visual arts are slightly less difficult, but things like graffiti art, album covers, and really recent artists problems. Guys like Basquiat, Schnabel, and Christo: they are artists, but is it art in the traditional sense?
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:45 pm

la2pgh wrote:Winning some sort of big timey prize (Nobel, Pulitzer, Booker) should be good enough to get you consideration in the lit distribution. However, if it is one of the latter two of the aforementioned prizes, much more caution must be used, because those are far more ephemeral and do not focus upon the author's corpus of works. Surely any reputable question writer knows that Tom Clancy, JK Rowling, Christopher Paolini, and a host of other writers are not lit, but trash. I see problems with works like The Golden Compass, which is one of the 5 or so best books of the 1990s, but is also directed at childen, and The Little Prince, which is also an awesome book, but is even more child-friendly. Sci fi,fantasy, and children's lit are all border line calls. They should be decided on a case by case basis.

With music, the real trouble would seem to deal with stuff that isn't classical, jazz, or pop (in a more modern sense), like blues, big band, or roots music. Jazz should only fall under that 1/1 "Your choice". I think that guys like Pastorius and Corea should fall under arts, because that stuff sure isn't pop.

Visual arts are slightly less difficult, but things like graffiti art, album covers, and really recent artists problems. Guys like Basquiat, Schnabel, and Christo: they are artists, but is it art in the traditional sense?
Well, in the college distro there's 1/1 traditional classical music, 1/1 painting (sometimes plus sculpture), 1/1 other arts. Jazz is explicitly mentioned under "other arts", and all these borderline cases belong there as well.

As for lit, with 4/4 per packet I'd say there's a small but nonzero place for well-written sci-fi/fantasy/mystery/horror/children's lit, especially when you consider that the most well-remembered of those works tend to lose their genre labels as they age. I agree that caution is necessary for the newer stuff, because we don't know yet how it will age, but we can make educated guesses.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:23 pm

la2pgh wrote: The Golden Compass, which is one of the 5 or so best books of the 1990s
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:04 pm

Vigilius Haufniensis wrote:As for lit, with 4/4 per packet I'd say there's a small but nonzero place for well-written sci-fi/fantasy/mystery/horror/children's lit, especially when you consider that the most well-remembered of those works tend to lose their genre labels as they age.
No one is going to object to a question on Brave New World, Jurgen, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, or The Castle of Otranto despite the scifi, fantasy, mystery, and horror elements in those works. Why? Because in addition to being genre literature, they are also academic literature. You can't write a question on Ringworld, The Wheel of Time, K is for Killer, or The Langoliers for the literature distribution, because the distribution says to use academic material for the academic categories and relegate all else to trash. The reasons for this distinction are many and good, and you need to argue against them (surely appealing to relativism and other nonsense in order to do so) if you are to dispute their consequences.

The fact that there are borderline cases (Ursula LeGuin, Frank Herbert, some of the stupider work of HG Wells) that reasonable people can disagree on classifying into academic or non-academic doesn't mean that we have to give up the idea of a distinction entirely. No, you cannot write on Philip Pullmann, who writes his books explicitly as fantasy and explicity for teenagers and fantasy fans, for an academic literature distribution. Recency has nothing to do with it. Go ahead and write on the latest work of John Updike as literature; don't write on pulp novels about The Shadow that are eighty years old.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:33 pm

If JK Rowling is trash, how come there are so many damn Harry Potter PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH and tossups? As somebody who has barely read half the series, it frustrates me to no end when some question about "animaguses" and other such things comes up. It comes up more than any other trash subject I've seen.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:34 pm

Johannes Climacus wrote:If JK Rowling is trash, how come there are so many damn Harry Potter PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH and tossups? As somebody who has barely read half the series, it frustrates me to no end when some question about "animaguses" and other such things comes up. It comes up more than any other trash subject I've seen.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:35 pm

Johannes Climacus wrote:If JK Rowling is trash, how come there are so many damn Harry Potter PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH and tossups?
Because NAQT allows trash in the literature category.
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Ike » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:51 pm

Off hand, I know last year at the HSNCT they ran tossups on Rumplestiltzkin, Merlin, Nostradamus, His Dark Materials, and bonuses on James Bond novels, and Harry Potter.
With the exception of Nostradamus, I can bet those all count toward literature. If I ever sit through and review all the HSNCT's again...I'll find more (probably not since I have hard copies of PACE and College sets now)

While we're on the topic of NAQT and Literature:
They really want us to read A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss. - I've never heard of the author or the novel, and he's been mentioned in two leadins at two HSNCTS.
What's up with that?

edited: finished truncated thought
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Re: Quizbowl v. Trivia

Post by Sir Thopas » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:54 pm

MLWGS-Gir wrote:
Johannes Climacus wrote:If JK Rowling is trash, how come there are so many damn Harry Potter PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH and tossups? As somebody who has barely read half the series, it frustrates me to no end when some question about "animaguses" and other such things comes up. It comes up more than any other trash subject I've seen.
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