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How to get into reading K lit?

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I'm nearing the close of my first year debating, and over the course of the year, I've come to understand and run some basic K's (cap, Wilderson), most of which my senior debaters prepped out for me though. 

 

I've got time before next year begins, and I'm nearing the point where debate is beginning to unfold and make sense to me, with all its components, but it seems there are so many different kritiks, with so much different information being tossed around these forums that for me, there's an overwhelming amount of k's to understand with all these different authors talking about different things, albeit me having a small idea of what some of them talk about.

 

With that, I have two questions:

1. How did you get familiar with the wide variety kritiks floating around? I understand the answer will probably be "look them up" or "debate with/against it", but there are so many different people talking about so many different things its difficult to find where to start

2. How did you start reading k lit? I've tried my hand at reading some authors; I've picked up hard copies of books, and annotate as I read, etc. etc., but the material in many of these books are extremely dense and seem to reference past works of different authors. Do you just pick up a book, read it, and work your way back the chain? or do you start from the beginning of the philosophy chain and start moving forward? if so, how far back do you start reading?

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1. How did you get familiar with the wide variety kritiks floating around? I understand the answer will probably be "look them up" or "debate with/against it", but there are so many different people talking about so many different things its difficult to find where to start

2. How did you start reading k lit? I've tried my hand at reading some authors; I've picked up hard copies of books, and annotate as I read, etc. etc., but the material in many of these books are extremely dense and seem to reference past works of different authors. Do you just pick up a book, read it, and work your way back the chain? or do you start from the beginning of the philosophy chain and start moving forward? if so, how far back do you start reading?

 

1. I'd say that over time you will learn most of them just through exposure. Also, if you have seniors on your team who know them or especially if they run them, don't be afraid to just ask "hey can you explain to me what X says?" If they can't coherently explain a given argument to someone who hasn't spent time in the lit, they shouldn't be running the arg. I've also found that Wikipedia and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (which is a free website) are very good places to start for many authors.

 

2. You are very, very correct about this. Especially with French postmoderns like Deleuze and Baudrillard, just jumping into the reading will be really tough. Even academics who've read philosophy for decades will get stuck if they jump in with no context. I mean honestly, no offense to the Baudrillard people on here but Simulacra and Simulation is borderline incomprehensible for someone who doesn't already know exactly what he's saying. It doesn't help that a lot of these philosophers aren't interested in clearly communicating their arguments. Baudrillard for instance, writes in hyperbole, and Derrida, for another example, loves to use puns in his writing.

 

I would start with the sites I named above, then past there I would look for good secondary material. Introductory books and stuff like that. If you're interested in Baudrillard I can PM you some materials that helped me a lot. The approach of tracing philosophers to their roots can work, and if you can do it, it will put you ahead of a lot of these k debaters (the downside is, you'll become acutely aware of how badly you have to butcher someone's work to fit it into a k that will win you a debate round). The problem is a) that takes a really long time, B) the people that authors refer to most frequently are not always the ones by whom they are most influenced, and without background it's impossible to tell the difference, and c) it's kind of an endless cycle since philosophers are bad writers across the board and everyone is influenced by someone. I will say with a lot of authors who are big in debate, I wouldn't go back any further than Marx and Nietzsche.

 

As a side note, even if you develop a good understand of a lot of the "mainstream" k authors, there will still a lot of teams running around with weird little kritiks that you've never seen before. And that's just part of debate. You don't always have to understand an argument to beat it. Just go for what you know, find holes in what they're saying, make good use of cross x, and you'll be fine.

Edited by Nonegfiat
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 I will say with a lot of authors who are big in debate, I wouldn't go back any further than Marx and Nietzsche.

 

Yeah I think the big philosophers in which most others are derived from, but not all ofc, are probably Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, Foucault also maybe Fanon and Saïd

 

*depending on what you want to specialize in IE psychoanalysis, cap, biopower, or race those should be your baseline imo: Marx for cap, Lacan and Freud for psychoanalysis, Foucault for biopower (also maybe Nietzsche but I'm not too sure because I haven't really read his works much other than some stuff relating to Foucault and genealogy), Wilderson bases a lot of his stuff on Fanon if i remember correctly, and Saïd founded orientalism.

 

Now obviously all Ks intersect, IE baudrillard talks about cap and stuff but at the same time he uses lacanian terms like the Real for simulations, wilderson derives afropessimism from psychoanalysis, so you should familiarize yourself with all these authors

 

Also, this is definitely not an end all be all list - there are probably more founding authors that I have missed, I didn't even include ableist, fem, or queer theorist authors because i personally don't read it.

Edited by aprasad202

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1. Echoing Ben, I'd say exposure. After so many cap rounds, you learn that when the 1NC starts with Zizek, you can probably pull out your cap frontlines. It's important to not necessarily associate certain authors with one kind of argument, though. I've seen people like Baudrillard used in cap Ks, Baudrillard Ks, and even FW/Theory debates. Most importantly, read the argument that the author makes in the card or book that you are given, and work from there.

 

2. Definitely. You can't jump into a Wilderson round and not understand what psychoanalysis is. Some basics that you should read, as a starting point for most Ks, are Marx, Chomsky, maybe some Lacan, maybe some Nietzsche, depending on what kind of critical arguments you plan on running. If you do find yourself having to dive straight into Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, or some other obscure book by some obscure philosopher, a good idea is to Google "intro to <philosopher's name>", or "<philosopher name> for beginners". This has helped me tremendously in the past. Another thing to do is find lectures about that author's ideas, I know a couple debate camps put out lectures on specific kritiks. Finally, if none of this works out, the debate community is huge. Ask your teammates for ideas or explanations behind some authors. If they don't know, this website is a good place to ask around. If this website doesn't know, check out /r/policydebate. If you still can't get an answer, you can ask around on the Policy Debate Discord.

Edited by NickDB8

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As a side note, even if you develop a good understand of a lot of the "mainstream" k authors, there will still a lot of teams running around with weird little kritiks that you've never seen before. And that's just part of debate. You don't always have to understand an argument to beat it. Just go for what you know, find holes in what they're saying, make good use of cross x, and you'll be fine.

 

This is a good reason as to why you should to this:

 

It's important to not necessarily associate certain authors with one kind of argument, though. I've seen people like Baudrillard used in cap Ks, Baudrillard Ks, and even FW/Theory debates. Most importantly, read the argument that the author makes in the card or book that you are given, and work from there.

Edited by NickDB8
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, Wilderson bases a lot of his stuff on Fanon if i remember correctly, and Saïd founded orientalism.

 

Fanon, Lacan (or is it Freud?). and Marx are the big three primarily - he makes reference to other authors like Hartman, Spillers, Sexton, etc. throughout his works though 

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It's important to not necessarily associate certain authors with one kind of argument, though. I've seen people like Baudrillard used in cap Ks, Baudrillard Ks, and even FW/Theory debates. 

Yeah this is totally true. This weekend I debated a security k that was composed entirely of Baudrillard cards

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I would start with the sites I named above, then past there I would look for good secondary material. Introductory books and stuff like that. If you're interested in Baudrillard I can PM you some materials that helped me a lot. The approach of tracing philosophers to their roots can work, and if you can do it, it will put you ahead of a lot of these k debaters (the downside is, you'll become acutely aware of how badly you have to butcher someone's work to fit it into a k that will win you a debate round). .

Can you pm me the baudy stuff as well please?

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I just read the sides of Chipotle bags. Those things get me thinking

This is true though. Reminds me of something from the CX a Harvard BS vs Michigan AP round a couple years ago, something like "So your argument for why humanity has value is burritos?"

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