A&S judging

dennis grace amazing at mail.utexas.edu
Thu Oct 31 22:15:00 PST 1996

Greetings, Cousins,

Lyonel here.

Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn and my lady Mistress Aquilanne posted an e-conversation
that went something like:

D>>>I have some deep, personal problems with "competitions", although 
D>>>displays and simple evaluations don't bother me.  When I am competing,
D>>>*I don't want criticism*.  I want to win, or not (that seems to be the 
D>>>way they do it at the fair, after all :) ).
A>>Most folk have a hard time getting past the intrinsic negative connotations
A>>of the terms "criticism" and "critique."...
D>It's not that the terms are negative.  It's that I'm not there to receive
D>lessons, or get feed back. If I am in a "competition", I am there to 
D>*compete*.  I daresay that there are some Fighters who chose not to 
D>fight in bouts where rather than a clear victory, the victor is to be 
D>chosen on style, or technique.
D>I am perfectly happy to accept criticism, just not in a "competition".
D>*Losing* is criticism enough. That you have assumed I don't understand 
D>the meaning of the terms "criticism" and "critique" when my complaint
D>was, I thought, clearly with the misuse of the term "compete" is 

I may save this set of postings and use them in class.  Here we see a
classic example of two individuals arguing at cross-purposes due in part to
a lack of shared assumptions.

Diarmuit considers the commentary of SCA A&S judges unnecessary as his only
concern in competition is winning or losing.  Aquilanne believes the
commentary as necessary to artistic growth.  Both have ignored the original
purpose of the critique.

Personally, though I can understand Diarmuit's position in light of the
county fair analogy, I have a hard time relating.  Yes, if you lose AND you
get snippy remarks from a judge, I can see that the critique would be
annoying.  OTOH, as a writer I find that few events darken my life as
thoroughly as rejection slips.  Critiques from the editor on the other hand
(if they're rational and considered) lessen the blow.  At least I know what
the editor found lacking in my work.  Not only does this offer, as Aquilanne
contends, an opportunity for artistic growth, but it also justifies the
editor's decision--or at least convinces me the rejection was not biased or
arbitrary.  Essentially, this is an aspect of A&S judging I believe both
Diarmuit and my own dear Aquilanne do not address.  Remember all those
recent postings from folks worrying that no qualified judge will be
available to evaluate their works?  This, I believe, was the original reason
for including critiques with SCA A&S competition results.  The critiques may
occasionally be unpleasant, but at least, thereby, we have a means of
evaluating our evaluators.

Furthermore, I believe this aspect of judging necessitates continued use of
written critique in some form.  I, for one, don't want county fair judging
standards, wherein Molly Applemasher can win the apple pie contest by stint
of--mmmm, let's just say appropriately *mollifying* certain judges.  Why,
you might ask, did her pie win?   Why, because it was the best, they will no
doubt respond. 

BTW, before the nit-pickers get their hands on this argument, no, I'm not
saying the critiques will *insure* objectivity.  No artistic venue ever
fully escapes subjectivity.

Diarmuit also opined:

D>I don't believe that you can have "kind and nurturing" in a competative

Perhaps Diarmuit meant between competitors, and I can agree. Aquilanne was
clearly talking about kindness and nurturing from the judges, however, an
attitude that Diarmuit's previous postings appeared to support.

Yours in e-Service

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis G. Grace
Postmodern Medievalist
Division of Rhetoric and Composition
Department of English
University of Texas at Austin
amazing at mail.utexas.edu

Baro, metetz en guatge                    |  Lords, pawn your castles,
Chastels e vilas e ciutatz                |  your towns and cities.
Enanz qu'usquecs no'us guerreiatz         |  Before you're beat to the draw,
                                                    draw your swords.

                   -- Bertran de Born (a really fun Viscount)

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