For those who haven’t yet had their fill of brackets, the University English Department is hosting a Middlemarch Madness Literary Bracket Pick’em.
Organized by English department academic advisor Shawn Adrian, this is the first literary bracket to be hosted here at the U. The game works like a March Madness bracket, requiring participants to choose the winners of hypothetical matchups through several rounds, eventually picking a champion. But the matchups aren’t between basketball teams — they’re between famous literary writers, ranging from William Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Adrian hopes the event, titled after George Eliot’s 1874 novel Middlemarch, might encourage non-English majors to become more involved in English, look into authors and learn more about literature. The prize for the best bracket is a $150 gift card to the campus bookstore.
Adrian was inspired by a similar event held by the Wall Street Journal about three years ago and pitched the idea to the English Student Advisory Committee (ESAC). This committee of English majors works to organize many department events, as well as recommending faculty for tenure positions.
According to ESAC senior chair Brandon Fuller, the committee thought “it was a great idea” and an interesting play on the classic sports tradition. The bracket could help bridge the gap between “die-hard English majors” and everyone else, bringing more diversity to the people involved in English. He also thought of the event as a fantastic way to “bring English majors and professors together.”
Adrian then got to work with a handful of faculty to seed and set the authors in preparation for the bracketing. This was no easy process, as only 64 authors could make the shortlist, and each faculty member had their own opinion about how the authors should be ranked.
Faculty from the department will also decide who the winners of each round are. The first few rounds will be announced on the English department’s website the following day.
Winners of the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four and the Champion will be determined by a live panel of faculty members at a culmination event held in room 101 of the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building (CTIHB) on March 31 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Adrian promises “food and fun” for those who attend.
Adrian hopes the department continues to host the event in future years. It will be interesting to see “how passionate [students] can get” about literature.
The bracket can be found on the department’s website, and filling it out takes only a few minutes. Students are encouraged to submit their own brackets for a shot at the grand prize by no later than 5 p.m. on Mar 28.