Curlyjimsam wrote: ↑
18 Feb 2019 14:14
In any case I don't think "people have no choice but to be at school, but do have a choice about university" can be anything more than a pretty partial explanation for why there are so few university-based stories, given that plenty of other genres don't involve characters who are required to be wherever it is the story needs them to be. So people generally become police officers or private investigators voluntarily, but we still have a detective genre.
But being a detective isn't the point of detective novels. Being a detective is not itself interesting, and there are very few stories about it (though there are a few). What's interesting (apparently) is murder (and to a lesser extent other violent and shocking crimes). The author wants to write about the murder, and the detective is just there because they're people closely associated with the investigation of murders.
This is why there are detective novels, but not traffic enforcement novels - not because the paperwork of being a detective is more interesting than the paperwork of regulating traffic, but because detectives are more likely to encounter murders (etc). That's where the interest is.
Similarly, the point of education stories has never been how interesting it is to learn things - the joy of learning is almost always at best an incidental flavouring to these stories, and often is entirely absent. Instead, school stories are mostly driven by a) interpersonal conflict between students who cannot escape that conflict by avoiding each other, and b) them-and-us conflict between tyrannical authorities and rebellious students (who cannot evade the tyranny simply by avoiding it). When you put your students in university, where they can easily avoid their enemies and where teachers are less authoritarian and less individually powerful, a lot of that dynamic gets weakened.
In this sense, the closest analogy to the school story is the sitcom - coworkers or cohabitants are forced to spend time together despite the interpersonal conflicts that arise. The sitcom has to be comic, however, because adults have more agency - in reality, when things get to bad at work, you just change jobs. And indeed, sitcom elements are commonplace in school stories too*, but there you can ramp the drama up more without loosing plausibility.
A school is essentially a pressure cooker that produces drama.
[Actually the closest, near-exact, analogy is the prison story. This is less popular, perhaps because people don't as easily empathise with prisoners, and because it's more depressing. But it's still a more popular genre than the university story...]
*it's no coincidence that so many of the great school stories, from Billy Bunter and St Trinians up to Buffy, Freaks and Geeks and Veronica Mars, have been at least in part comedic.