"...as I understand it, is that the Continental approach is mostly used by under-dog teams taking on rich East Coast private high schools. Need to take on realist accounts of nuclear proliferation? Counter with a post-colonial critique of the creation of the global south or a feminist critique of phallo-centrism as represented in the use of missile technology (I’m not making either of these up). Apparently, it throws off the better profile teams used to more standard counterarguments, which seems to match Continental’s role in the academy in general."I would also add to the discussion that the use of theory is not only strategically used by these "under-dog" teams but also because many of these team gravitate towards this style out of necessity (the catching people off guard is just a bonus). "Rich East Coast private high schools" are not just found on the east coast but everywhere, and they are the teams to beat. Policy debate (where teams argue in the traditional means about the desirability of policy actions) requires massive amounts of resources from high capacity printers, massive amounts of paper, large coaching staff, travel expenses, etc. These larger programs are also able to sustain large squads that can be mobilized for high amount of research production. Due to these structural advantages these larger schools are able to excel at the traditional policy style debating because they have the time and woman power. This is because they are able to stay current on research and produce enough evidence to cover all angles and arguments that are involved in a policy debate.
Because of all this teams/debaters from schools that have a small (or functionally non-existent) team need to find ways to be able to have a debate strategy they will have time to manage and research all by themselves as well as keep on top of their school and life requirements. These easy to maintain strategies normally manifest themselves as the K (critique). A debater will find one author/critical position that they might find interesting (I myself did this with Nietzsche and later Baudrillard) and then do all the research they can possible do to understand that position inside and out, once that is done these debaters are able to go to bat against the best policy teams in the nation with relative success.
The other interesting part of Peter's post was that he was interested in ways that theory can be made more accessible to debaters:
I’m on the SPEP advocacy commitee the next couple of years so this seems like this would be an area where one could advocate for Continental in a certain way, but I’m not sure how: by putting Continental in touch with debate prep coaches? By leading some of these students into Continental friendly programs?I thought of a few suggestions myself for how organizations like SPEP could reach out to debaters:
1. Instead of reaching out to coaches, reach out to the debaters- set up a program where debaters who are interested in theory can get help/advice/direction in their research/thought. This could be done by organized web chats or Q&As where debaters can ask questions to be answered by somebody versed in Continental. Or set a "database" where you provide the emails of certain people who are experts in separate fields that so that they can be contacted, this can be broken up by school of thought or by knowledge of figure head type authors (Heidegger, Deleuze, Baudrillard, etc.). Once this is done THEN contact debate coaches and debate discussion boards.
2. Tell us how - Offer information on how to/where to do theory after high school. Many "k debaters" want to go to college and do/study Continental Philosophy but they are not quite sure how exactly to accomplish this. Do they go into the philosophy department, the english department, sociology,cultural studies, anthropology, political science? Sadly there is really no Critical Theory department, so providing information about issues such as this would probably increase the "recruitment" of high school debaters to Continental.
3. Dazzle them - This somewhat jives with #1 but i think deserves its own- Critical debaters are always amazed by great, interesting, applied thought - and this amazement doubles when it can be used by them. Maybe have a group of disparate Continental authors take the current high school topic and have each write a short essay or use it as a starting point to levy a critique/explain their own theoretical positions, give the collection away by having students email one address. Then SPEP has a mailing list of (elated) high schoolers interested in Continental thought.
This is all I got for now, but if anyone reading this blog has suggestions of their own I highly encourage you to post them in the comments here and/or at the post I linked up top.