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12:04 AM
All the following are On Topic for this stackexchange: 1) Significance/Benefit of Scene/Quote/Character/Trait in Novel/Play/Poetry 2) Certain elements of trivia e.g why was X written in Y manner/ was the work republished/why? 3) How did X mechanic in Y piece of work work? 4) Fictional Exploration e.g. Interpretating X characters behavior 5) What/where is this reference/quote from
6) Historical place in literature e.g. when did X trope appear 7) Political/Other interpretation of a work? disputes around interpretations 8) Definition of literary term/trope/interpretation/phrase 9) Is X a requirement for Y Genre? 10) What will happen in this particular work of fiction? In future installments ?
I've written this purely from looking around and seeing what sort of questions get upvotes, but could I get some input on whether these sort of topics are on-topic from the more "moderator"/"dedicated" community. Because I could personally populate this stackexchange with hundreds of questions on these topics and I don't want to be pumping pure off-topic questions
Have you looked at the Literature Meta s on ?
Mostly so also the discussion on on-topic
It seems most of it is still being debated through. Would it be wise to create a single meta post describing a comprehensive list of what is on-topic based on previous discussions and positively rated questions? with space for debate on specific points?
12:25 AM
Nah. It's better to assume topicality and define the edges of the Stack's space by what isn't topical, and THAT needs to happen with examples rather than theoreticals.
So as the site gets edge-case questions naturally, it'll slowly figure out the space it can usefully occupy.
If we try to force that, we'll get artificial results based on artificial examples and we'll have to overcome that again later.
And if we try to define the site by what IS on topic rather than what ISN'T, we'll needlessly limit our topicality to only things we can think of beforehand.
Alright no-problem. I was just a bit confused because the scope of this stackexchange seems to be incredibly broad. There are millions of works of literature and any one of them can have dozens of questions associated with it e.g take a famous work Macbeth there are at least 50 questions one can ask about this play alone e.g Significance of Scene 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 Signicifance of reference 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 Significance of character 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
Yup. It's something we're still working out how to deal with.
The danger is thisStackexchange becoming some form of replacement for Cliff's Notes or any other site which in depth analyses any work.
A major key to any Stack's dealing with this kind of open-ended-ness is sincerity of the asker: Yes, we COULD ask the same question about every scene in MacBeth, but does it actually rise from a genuine curiosity or need to know, or is it just "I can and therefore I will"?
We can't, of course, police sincerity.
But by optimising for pearls, we can make sure the answers will be useful.
For self-answers an individual poster could cycle through every single scene and sel-answer with a legitimate analysis of each scene ... would that demonstrate sincerity or would that be frowned upon?
12:34 AM
Again, actual examples evaluated on a case-by-case basis are usually the best way to go.
We've got very broad guidelines, which get applied to specific cases as needed without extrapolating precedent from those cases until there's a critical mass of experience.
I'm not sure what the "danger" is in becoming a site which offers in-depth analysis of works.
That seems like kind of the goal.
This may turn out to be one the largest/most interesting stack exchanges on the network
I can easily see the scope expanding much larger than the english.stackexchange.com
It's got potential, but I'm skeptical about successful implementation.
I am slightly more optimistic. Right Now the community is quite small but several thousands of literature related questions and answers are available on other platforms such as Yahoo answers. Which shows people are willing to post in-depth analysis of works online.
"Literature" is a fraught and complex minefield of communities, assumptions, and specializations. Becoming a resource that's taken seriously by more than a very narrow subsection of the literary landscape will be a massive challenge.
That is true, perhaps it would be wiser to start by focusing on more "well known"/"famous" works and then expanding outwards?
12:44 AM
And most of our users aren't from literary fields; they're avid readers, but not many are familiar with the tools and topics of literary or compositional analysis or pedagogy. We've already struggled with a lot of pushback from the idea that scifi.se's version of analysis is limited and incomplete within the literary field.
It's not about studying obscure works. It's about learning the many different methods of approaching a work.
I'm not talking about the literary landscape in terms of "Oh, we only know the famous books." I'm talking about close reading techniques, external or contextual analysis, being able to choose whether cultural criticism or new historical criticism is a more useful lens to bring to the text, learning how to account for the reader/text relationship and not confusing it with authorial intent.
I'm speaking more of how users will come across this site. Most users google a particular question and if stackexchange has a good answer are re-directed there. It would thus be a good idea if as a community we created a series of "hook" questions and answer i.e. questions of intrest to the general public like analysis of a famous work which draw traffic
And, perhaps most importantly, creating a community where all the different forms of literary study are welcome.
We've pretty much got a lot of those already.
Our highest tags include Orwell, Shakespeare, Gaiman, Poe, and Rowling.
It's the community's quality which retains users.
We still fail on pure user count with only 537 visitors/day and very few if no "famous questions"
I think we're talking at cross purposes.
That may be the case :) It's 2 am here and my mind may be a bit addled
12:53 AM
I thought, when you talked about the site becoming interesting with a large scope, that you were referring to the breadth and depth of its content, not to the size of its user base.
The two are related, but I have no concerns about the site's size.
My concern with regard to interesting scope is that lit.se is liable to stagnate in shallow waters which attract a lot of users but doesn't become respected as an analytical resource.
You mean if answers are too opinionated without sufficient analysis/documentation which drives away users?
There's a big difference between being a site for readers of literature, and a site for people dedicated to its study--and our initial membership being largely composed of scifi.se initiates is an extra stumbling-block because scifi standards of study are not sufficient for mainstream literary study.
So we get a lot of pushback on, eg, the idea that an author's statement is rarely sufficient on its own--and may be entirely irrelevant.
perhaps we should try attracting more users from english.se? they usually provide more detal?
Eh. I think we need to focus on our community rather than asking other communities to shore us up.
It's about figuring out what GS/BS and Back It Up mean for lit.se, creating a community that encourages improving answers and doesn't insist on a particular lens or technique to the exclusion of others.
This is difficult, and fraught in part because the academic community is often toxic on these subjects.
Fair enough, I largely agree with you.. I'm really sorry but I'm going to have to go now... perhaps we can discuss further at a later date? I look forward to seeing you around this community
1:00 AM
I'm skeptical about lit.se's ability to endorse the methods of literary study without also adopting the antagonistic academic culture so closely associated with them.
1:54 AM
@BESW it was a struggle to figure out which of your messages to star :)
I draw on my experience with the mythology site when it comes to this. On that site, I was very aggressive about downvoting and leaving comments on answers that didn't cite sources--note that sources doesn't necessarily mean academic sources but the actual texts of the myths the site studies.
It worked for about six months. We even got two active users who I would consider experts: a PHD student and someone who published academic articles on the subject but is not employed as an academic at an academic institution
But there was a lot of pushback. And for a variety of reasons the standards lowered.
Now I go to the site and can't recognize it. The content on the homepage just doesn't interest me anymore. And while the pageviews have gone up significantly, activity isn't that much different.
Literature seems to be different in a lot of ways. For one thing, mythology's scope was too narrow, which limited its growth significantly. There just aren't enough people interested in mythology as a field. Many of those who are interested are interested in a mystical make things up kind of sense, which isn't helpful for a Stack Exchange site.
Another thing is that for some reason, people in the mythology site just do not want to read/quote mythological texts (which, to be fair, are old, hard to find, and easy for modern audiences to get bored with). Here, virtually everyone has read a fiction book at least once, and people don't seem to mind quoting from the book rather than from sketchy internet websites. To put it another way, people are naturally answering questions here based on their experiences reading the book.
I see the site as sort of a high school classroom, where everyone who has read the book can participate and argue for their opinion based on analysis of evidence. Like you, I think this site will succeed when we regularly get multiple answers to the same question that analyze different evidence in different ways using different methods.
@SleepingGod the question is, how good is the literary analysis on yahoo answers?
2:18 AM
[grin] Yahoo does not optimise for pearls.
2:57 AM
Q: What does this poem mean "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufuck"

anneThe Love Song of J. Alfred Prufuck I read this Post-Modern parody, by Australia's leading erotic poet colin leslie dean, of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" but I dont know what it means

@Gallifreyan is that comic good?
sandman, I mean
I might read it, if it's available online
@Bookworm pretty sure this is just an excuse to post really poorly formatted erotic poetry
@Ash VTC unclear; needs elaboration on what the querent's confused by.
@Riker It's good. I suspect a little over-hyped, but that just means it's quite good rather than THE BEST THING EVAR OMG.
Oh, for sure (although I don't have close votes yet but that's fine, I will do what I can), I'm just generally stating that I don't trust the poster's intentions here
If you want to get a sampler, I suggest trying the book World's End; it's a collection of short Sandman stories connected by a narrative conceit, and can be read independently of the series proper.
Good way to see if it's the sort of thing you'd like.
3:22 AM
@SleepingGod the quality of most online literary analysis is mediocre at best. I had a teacher who would print out copies of websites and on tests would make us correct them.
So there is a need for expert analysis online.
But I don't think expert analysis is what we're doing and I don't think it's a good goal to have. Like I said I see this site as a classroom where people can approach literature from different ways. It's a discussion, not a search for authority which doesn't exist anyway when it comes to literature.
Of course I think we should be engaging with literature, and answers that take things at face value don't do that. Hence why "word of god" authorial intent answers can be really problematic in certain contexts, and hence why I think it's good that we as a site have been recognizing the limitations of authorial intent.
@Ash oh god I just clicked on that link it's so bad.
@Hamlet the fonts, the colours, the content, all of it
@Ash its one of those things where I'm impressed that someone was able to make such a poorly formatted pdf.
The fonts, the colors, for god knows how many pages; it must have taken hours
@Hamlet expert based sites don't work unless you are composed of experts who are willing to aggressively act as gatekeepers. We don't have that and I would argue that the last thing literature needs as a discipline is another walled garden.
4:38 AM

 The Overlook Hotel

General discussion for writing.stackexchange.com. Writing exer...
@Ash [sigh] One of those quotes is from 14.
@BESW What's that?
An otherwise rather good book in the Mythos style, but with more optimism despite the existential horror elements. Its companion The Fold is better, but still has that "thoughtless male author" smell about its characterizations.
The quote from 14 is the one with the woman named Xela.
Actually, wait. ALL those quotes are from 14.
It says something that so many of those characters are so superficial I didn't even recognise their introductions.
I like the ideas in 14, but the most likeable characters are just bareable and the author seems to think they're all awesome and interesting.
5 hours later…
9:51 AM
Q: Why do the translators of "Social Justice in Islam" strongly hint at its controversiality, without mentioning what's controversial?

EmrakulI recently started reading the book, "Social Justice in Islam." This is a book by Sayyid Qutb, translated into English by John B. Hardie, commissioned by the Near Eastern Translation Program. There's not really any good references to any of these people online outside this book, nor is there any ...

@Ash I left a like with my new shiny Tumblr account. Is that common, though? I don't read much, especially contemporary literature.
1 hour later…
11:16 AM
@Riker 'Tis great ;) Starting with World's End is good. You could also try the stand-alone bits: Endless Nights or Dream Hunters. Both don't have a connection to the main narrative, but are good.
2 hours later…
1:21 PM
@Mods: these questions don't have to stay protected anymore.
2:11 PM
@Gallifreyan ah, cool
@Gallifreyan protection is more of a permanent thing, I don't think it has to be unprotected either
@BESW ah, cool
@Riker Not according to main meta policy which I'm too lazy to dig up right now
@Ash oh my god, what even is that font
@Gallifreyan hm, ok
1 hour later…
3:17 PM
@Riker I know, right?
3:32 PM
4:16 PM
So I read Yngvar's saga. Guy did two things: kill heathens... and then take their possessions as booty.
Supposedly he discovered some rivers and lands, but the narrator doesn't give it as much attention as to killing heathens.
And converting other heathens to Christianity.
@Hamlet Looks like the author of that paper beat me to an answer :D
4:40 PM
@Gallifreyan yeah, it was a really good answer.
(of course, probably not even in the top ten for answers, but it's definitely up there.
Not sure if I agree with it yet, but I'll read the article and come back to it.
Meanwhile, I'd like to announce that SFF is having a Nasicaa of the Valley of the Wind film night today at 10 PM UTC, and everyone is welcome to participate.
We'll have a copy of the film in a shared video room, along with chat.
2 hours later…
6:36 PM
@Gallifreyan done
Hey, stranger!
@Gallifreyan Aww, I won't be home then, seeing my parents tonight. Otherwise I'd lvoe to join, because I've not seen that movie yet. (Although I might own it)

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