Improving Literature Knowledge?

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Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by TheMostIntrestingAsianInTheWorld » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:28 pm

This is a seroiusly sore subject area for my entire team and we simply do not know how we can significantly improve our game. For me at least, this is something incredibly important-especially considering how heavily it's weighted in NAQT. Can anyone help out? How can we expand our knowledge of literary works and their creators? I suppose I can take some comfort in knowing that many other teams struggle with this as well.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by vinteuil » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:53 pm

This is a hard spot for our new players—no class teaches this in a broad enough fashion, nor can it.

Frequency lists definitely feel like cheating, but they can be helpful.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by Banana Stand » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:04 pm

Reading poetry and short stories isn't time consuming and it goes a long way.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by ProfessorIanDuncan » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 pm

Reading poetry and short stories isn't time consuming and it goes a long way.
Same can be said of spark notes.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:59 pm

Yes but with the former you get the pleasure of reading it.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by marianna » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:05 pm

I find that reading lit questions to myself via Quizbowl DB works really well.

The cool thing about this is that you can quickly familiarize yourself with works that come up often. If I come across something I've never heard of before, I usually take a look at other questions on that same answer and try to identify common clues. If some work sounds really cool or interesting, I'll check it out from the library to read for my own enjoyment and for quizbowl purposes.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by sbfromcopley » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:40 pm

Well I don't really know where your team is as far as your knowledge base but the first step would definitely be making yourself familiar with all the works and authors of the general high school canon. It seems like that would be a lot but it really isn't that hard to just memorize works and authors, you will probably know a lot just through hearing questions at tournaments/practice. Whenever you are reading on your own and you come across a lit tossup ( or any tossup ) looking up the answerline in the quizbowl database can be helpful in learning stock clues as well, especially for works/authors that are tossed up a lot you will receive many results to learn from. Sparknotes is helpful but sometimes leaves out parts that turn out to be the stockiest of stock clues and of course reading books/plays/short stories/poems will always beat reading about them. While it isn't as time efficient it will definitely help against better teams who have much deeper knowledge.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by Mewto55555 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:33 pm

sbfromcopley wrote:Well I don't really know where your team is as far as your knowledge base but the first step would definitely be making yourself familiar with all the works and authors of the general high school canon. It seems like that would be a lot but it really isn't that hard to just memorize works and authors, you will probably know a lot just through hearing questions at tournaments/practice. Whenever you are reading on your own and you come across a lit tossup ( or any tossup ) looking up the answerline in the quizbowl database can be helpful in learning stock clues as well, especially for works/authors that are tossed up a lot you will receive many results to learn from. Sparknotes is helpful but sometimes leaves out parts that turn out to be the stockiest of stock clues and of course reading books/plays/short stories/poems will always beat reading about them. While it isn't as time efficient it will definitely help against better teams who have much deeper knowledge.
If you're wanting to beat teams who have deep knowledge, actually read the books and don't try to learn stock clues -- the good teams already know all those. Learning stuff "fakely" has its benefits (certainly is helpful on bonuses and making sure you're converting tossups at the end if you don't know stuff), but far, far better is to just read a ton.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:44 pm

Go Learn More Things with this page: http://www.gutenberg.org/
and this page http://literature.wikia.com/wiki/Literawiki.

Edit: supposed to say "Learn"
Last edited by Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin on Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:41 pm

    ngr17 wrote:Go Fraud More Things with this page: http://www.gutenberg.org/
    and this page http://literature.wikia.com/wiki/Literawiki.
    Sorry, but this post doesn't make a lot of sense. First of all, Gutenberg is an e-books repository, so if you use the site, you're actually reading stuff, which means you get real knowledge, not fraudulent knowledge.

    Secondly, if you're going to turn to wikis for literature knowledge, just stay with Wikipedia. It's certainly not perfect but it has far more breadth and depth of information than this site. Also, vandalism on smaller Wikia sites such as this one takes much longer to be reverted than vandalism on Wikipedia.

    EDIT: I hit "Random" on the Wikia a couple of times and I found that:
    • It seems to be mostly stubs of recent literature that rarely comes up in quizbowl outside of the trash distribution.
    • Its The Time Machine page doesn't mention Eloi or Morlocks.
    • Its H.P. Lovecraft page has the word Cthulhu once and that's for a red-link in a list of his works.
    • Its The Razor's Edge article is basically a copy-paste of the lede of the corresponding Wikipedia article (which has a synopsis, unlike the Wikia article).
    • Its Guns, Germs, and Steel article is a whopping three sentences.
    In short, it's a really :capybara:y knock-off of Wikipedia. Don't use it.

    Post sanitized by the capybara.
    Last edited by Masked Canadian History Bandit on Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Banana Stand » Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:47 pm

    ngr17 wrote:Go Fraud More Things with this page: http://www.gutenberg.org/
    How would one "fraud things" on gutenberg? I'd assume that if you're on there that you're actually reading the works.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by sbfromcopley » Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:05 pm

    I would just like to make mention of something in my reply that I don't think i did a very good job of emphasizing.

    "....and of course reading books/plays/short stories/poems will always beat reading about them"

    I probably should of stressed that more and if you did take anything my reply I want to make sure you took the correct message that I was trying to get through. As Max mentioned after I posted that reply, REAL knowledge is what is really required to become a nationally contending team. While frauding using the tools I mentioned in my reply like memorizing clues from quizbowldb or reading sparknotes could very likely allow you to dominate a local circuit or even possibly a state depending on where you are you definitely need to use reading books as your main tool of improving lit knowledge. So if you did start doing some of the things i mentioned earlier you don't necessarily need to stop but you do need to make sure you are focusing on reading works as well. Obviously reading books takes much longer than learning stock clues for books so you should try to find a nice balance where you can learn clues about books as you go through reading the works you need to read for quizbowl, just make sure you don't focus so much on memorizing clues that you give up reading.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Beevor Feevor » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:07 pm

    How does one go about getting a good base of lit knowledge outside the typical high school canon then? I consider myself fairly proficient at lit, but whenever I see questions past around VHSL states or ACF Fall difficulty, I have a really hard time getting any of the obscure lit.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by sbfromcopley » Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:54 pm

    To put it shortly, I think learning literature for quizbowl at any level can be summed up in a few steps.

    1. Introduce yourself to the canon, whatever level you are it. @Eric, if you think you have the basic HS canon down but are lacking in harder HS tournaments/Early ACF tournaments then go ahead and read packets at that difficulty, familiarize yourself with the works that come up at that difficulty level and get the basic knowledge of Work/Author down. Typically just going over packets will do this.

    2. Learn stock clues for the works that come up at whatever difficulty you are playing. While this is obviously harder as you delve further into the quizbowl world as the canon becomes less and less "stable". While in the typical HS canon an experienced player will most likely never see a literary work that he/she has not heard of, in college tournaments this is less likely as the college canon is more open to change.

    Ideally you would want to do these two steps at the same time. Read a packet, come across a new book, memorize the author of the book and the title of the book, look up other works by the other, learn clues about the book/author/other books by the author.

    *****Most importantly,while you do the above steps always make sure you are reading the works too. As I'm sure anyone who has ever been exposed to pyramidal toss-up bonus quizbowl has heard, real knowledge>fake knowledge. Reading a book will assure you the tossup on it against a team which has just memorized clues about it hopefully 10/10 times if your memory serves you well. Especially when playing against the top notch teams you need to assume that they have read all the major works of whatever difficulty you play and you need to try to counter them by reading the same books and more.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:21 pm

    So like, if you really feel a need to get really good at literature, and don't want to read much books, do the following soul-selling exercise:

    1. Make a list of every author you know of
    2. Memorize the titles of their books
    3. Memorize clues for each of these books (in accordance with their importance, so if something is like a 4th-tier book, you need to know less clues than if its tossupable)

    If an author/work comes up you've never heard of, figure out how it slipped your notice and add it to the list. If you do this effectively, you will be a very good literature player, though I'm not sure why you would ever want to do this in this manner. You'll get owned on books other people have read probably, but odds are they won't have read everything.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by vinteuil » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:29 pm

    Mewto55555 wrote:So like, if you really feel a need to get really good at literature, and don't want to read much books, do the following soul-selling exercise:

    1. Make a list of every author you know of
    2. Memorize the titles of their books
    3. Memorize clues for each of these books (in accordance with their importance, so if something is like a 4th-tier book, you need to know less clues than if its tossupable)

    If an author/work comes up you've never heard of, figure out how it slipped your notice and add it to the list. If you do this effectively, you will be a very good literature player, though I'm not sure why you would ever want to do this in this manner. You'll get owned on books other people have read probably, but odds are they won't have read everything.
    Frankly, I get owned on books I've read, and I've owned teams on books that they named themselves after [EDIT: Suppressed]. Learning about books is really the safe way to get a lot of points, although, as you say, you sell your soul in the process.
    Last edited by vinteuil on Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:43 pm

    perlnerd666 wrote:
    Mewto55555 wrote:So like, if you really feel a need to get really good at literature, and don't want to read much books, do the following soul-selling exercise:

    1. Make a list of every author you know of
    2. Memorize the titles of their books
    3. Memorize clues for each of these books (in accordance with their importance, so if something is like a 4th-tier book, you need to know less clues than if its tossupable)

    If an author/work comes up you've never heard of, figure out how it slipped your notice and add it to the list. If you do this effectively, you will be a very good literature player, though I'm not sure why you would ever want to do this in this manner. You'll get owned on books other people have read probably, but odds are they won't have read everything.
    Frankly, I get owned on books I've read, and I've owned teams on books that they named themselves after [suppressed for question security --Mgmt.]. Learning about books is really the safe way to get a lot of points, although, as you say, you sell your soul in the process.
    After reading a literary work, I find it helpful to:
    1. Look up previous questions on it, so I know what's commonly asked about it.
    2. Write a question on it.

    This could help cut down on the problem of getting beat on questions about books you've read.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by t-bar » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:47 pm

    perlnerd666 wrote:Frankly, I get owned on books I've read, and I've owned teams on [reference to an uncleared question set]. Learning about books is really the safe way to get a lot of points, although, as you say, you sell your soul in the process.
    Question security, dude!
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by vinteuil » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:48 pm

    t-bar wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:Frankly, I get owned on books I've read, and I've owned teams on [reference to an uncleared question set]. Learning about books is really the safe way to get a lot of points, although, as you say, you sell your soul in the process.
    Question security, dude!
    Fixed. Whoops.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by vinteuil » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:49 pm

    The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:
    Mewto55555 wrote:So like, if you really feel a need to get really good at literature, and don't want to read much books, do the following soul-selling exercise:

    1. Make a list of every author you know of
    2. Memorize the titles of their books
    3. Memorize clues for each of these books (in accordance with their importance, so if something is like a 4th-tier book, you need to know less clues than if its tossupable)

    If an author/work comes up you've never heard of, figure out how it slipped your notice and add it to the list. If you do this effectively, you will be a very good literature player, though I'm not sure why you would ever want to do this in this manner. You'll get owned on books other people have read probably, but odds are they won't have read everything.
    Frankly, I get owned on books I've read, and I've owned teams on books that they named themselves after [QUESTION SECURITY, PEOPLE --Mgmt.]. Learning about books is really the safe way to get a lot of points, although, as you say, you sell your soul in the process.
    After reading a literary work, I find it helpful to:
    1. Look up previous questions on it, so I know what's commonly asked about it.
    2. Write a question on it.

    This could help cut down on the problem of getting beat on questions about books you've read.
    Yes, that's mainly on books I read in middle school, so I hardly begrudge teams the points.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Auroni » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:56 pm

    Read up on books that you find interesting and write tons of good lit questions.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:03 pm

    t-bar wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:Frankly, I get owned on books I've read, and I've owned teams on [reference to an uncleared question set]. Learning about books is really the safe way to get a lot of points, although, as you say, you sell your soul in the process.
    Question security, dude!
    Seriously: don't post information about uncleared sets. This applies to people who quote such posts, too. I think I got every reference to [redacted topic] in this thread.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Emil Nolde » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:06 am

    So, basically I would say you shouldn't read a quizbowl-relevant book unless you actually find it interesting. You won't remember things if reading it was an unpleasant experience. Legit knowledge isn't actually very rewarding at all, especially when half the time you're looking for authors. You can learn so many other things in the time it takes to read a book. Take notes on every match you play. If you keep missing certain clues, just, say, write it on your hand, or get the title stuck in your head. Also, I recommend you don't use sparknotes, as it's geared to helping lazy english students, and therefore deals a lot more with emotion and thematic concepts than is useful. You don't need to be able to write an essay.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by sbfromcopley » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:44 pm

    thyringe_supine wrote:So, basically I would say you shouldn't read a quizbowl-relevant book unless you actually find it interesting. You won't remember things if reading it was an unpleasant experience. Legit knowledge isn't actually very rewarding at all, especially when half the time you're looking for authors. You can learn so many other things in the time it takes to read a book. Take notes on every match you play. If you keep missing certain clues, just, say, write it on your hand, or get the title stuck in your head. Also, I recommend you don't use sparknotes, as it's geared to helping lazy english students, and therefore deals a lot more with emotion and thematic concepts than is useful. You don't need to be able to write an essay.
    I would have to disagree with this statement. Many books that come up in quizbowl are actually very good books, I started reading through books in quizbowl a few months ago to improve and as I pick and choose the ones I want to read first I have yet to read one that is actually boring or unpleasant. Go through and read all of the books that you think sound interesting, there are without a doubt going to be tons and then later on go through and read the ones that maybe didn't sound as interesting. Who knows, maybe you will enjoy those too. I think reading books should be viewed as just more in depth practice, whether you enjoy all of them is to be seen, but it definitely will help you become a better player. Similarly to the way that athletes may not enjoy everything they do at practice, it definitely makes them a better player. Along with many other things, quizbowl is a game and if you want to be really good at a game you have to practice, in the case of quizbowl this includes reading as many books as you can.

    Also, the point you made about legit knowledge not being rewarding I have to disagree completely. As I think most people will agree with me that while memorizing clues helps at lower difficulties and against some middle to lower tier teams, the top teams in the nation already know all of those clues and more on top of reading a lot of those books. The chance you beating a team to a tossup on a book they have read is little to none unless if you have also read that book. For example, Olmstead Falls has everyone on their team read Candide. I have never seen them lose a tossup on Candide, I have never even seen them miss power on a Candide tossup. The rewards of obtaining real knowledge are sweet and extremely helpful. This becomes even more true at higher difficulties like nationals levels and moreso throughout ACF where writers try to make their questions as unique as possible to bring out real knowledge on literature instead of using clues that have come up a million times.

    I don't know why people want to solely fraud on literature knowledge when they know that real knowledge is the better way. Once you get beyond your local circuit to nationals or just larger tournaments with better teams the "knowledge" you have from memorizing clues becomes standard if not subpar. No one is telling you to stop learning clues about books and just start reading all day. Keep reading packets and learning lots of good clues for books while making your way through the long list of quizbowl books and I assure you the benefits will be blatantly obvious when you 5-word power a tossup on Fitzgerald.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:45 pm

    One area on which I am confused is how to study efficiently. Is it better to read the book, or just memorize a summary? I feel that reading an entire book solely for quizbowl would be really inefficient, but that memorizing summaries would fail at the highest level.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Beevor Feevor » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:42 pm

    shady jawn wrote:One area on which I am confused is how to study efficiently. Is it better to read the book, or just memorize a summary? I feel that reading an entire book solely for quizbowl would be really inefficient, but that memorizing summaries would fail at the highest level.
    I think that reading detailed summaries would probably be the best approach, as I've tried to read the books, which tries my time and my patience, and read short wikipedia summaries, which led to blowouts by better teams. Depending on how many people are on your team, you can split up deep knowledge of the common books and read summaries of the other ones, but it's really a huge waste of time to read everything and anything asked about.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:50 pm

    Yeah, I agree, but what are the best detailed summaries available? If wikipedia is not good, then what is the best approach? I have the Benet's Readers Encyclopedia, but its summaries also seem quite skimpy.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:57 pm

    Einhard wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:One area on which I am confused is how to study efficiently. Is it better to read the book, or just memorize a summary? I feel that reading an entire book solely for quizbowl would be really inefficient, but that memorizing summaries would fail at the highest level.
    I think that reading detailed summaries would probably be the best approach, as I've tried to read the books, which tries my time and my patience, and read short wikipedia summaries, which led to blowouts by better teams. Depending on how many people are on your team, you can split up deep knowledge of the common books and read summaries of the other ones, but it's really a huge waste of time to read everything and anything asked about.
    Or you could read a book and also study for quizbowl. It's not like either is going to take up that much of your day.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Off To See The Lizard » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:03 pm

    shady jawn wrote:Yeah, I agree, but what are the best detailed summaries available? If wikipedia is not good, then what is the best approach? I have the Benet's Readers Encyclopedia, but its summaries also seem quite skimpy.
    Sparknotes has a ton! But yeah reading books is good too
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:07 pm

    Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by vinteuil » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:24 pm

    shady jawn wrote:Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
    For some books, even just Wikipedia is sufficient; sometimes important characters come up as the first clue (The Cherry Orchard and À la recherche du temps perdu last year...).
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:52 pm

    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
    For some books, even just Wikipedia is sufficient; sometimes important characters come up as the first clue (The Cherry Orchard and À la recherche du temps perdu last year...).
    So for the top 50 or so most frequent books, a deeper knowledge than used in sparknotes/wikipedia/benets would be needed to answer tossups at HSNCT?
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by vinteuil » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:02 pm

    shady jawn wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
    For some books, even just Wikipedia is sufficient; sometimes important characters come up as the first clue (The Cherry Orchard and À la recherche du temps perdu last year...).
    So for the top 50 or so most frequent books, a deeper knowledge than used in sparknotes/wikipedia/benets would be needed to answer tossups at HSNCT?
    Well, a lot of the top 50 wouldn't be tossed up at HSNCT as far as I can tell (I guess they prefer to write an easy Death Comes for the Archbishop question instead of a hardMy Àntonia question, which makes sense).
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:11 pm

    shady jawn wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
    For some books, even just Wikipedia is sufficient; sometimes important characters come up as the first clue (The Cherry Orchard and À la recherche du temps perdu last year...).
    So for the top 50 or so most frequent books, a deeper knowledge than used in sparknotes/wikipedia/benets would be needed to answer tossups at HSNCT?
    Needed? I mean, it would certainly heIp, but whether or not it'd be efficient enough is up to you. I remember getting the "As I Lay Dying" question from HSNCT a few years ago early because the famous chapter that says "My mother is a fish" appeared somewhat early. You don't have to have read any Faulkner or study plot summaries 24/7 to know the invaluable facts of books like that.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:15 pm

    Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
    For some books, even just Wikipedia is sufficient; sometimes important characters come up as the first clue (The Cherry Orchard and À la recherche du temps perdu last year...).
    So for the top 50 or so most frequent books, a deeper knowledge than used in sparknotes/wikipedia/benets would be needed to answer tossups at HSNCT?
    Needed? I mean, it would certainly heIp, but whether or not it'd be efficient enough is up to you. I remember getting the "As I Lay Dying" question from HSNCT a few years ago early because the famous chapter that says "My mother is a fish" appeared somewhat early. You don't have to have read any Faulkner or study plot summaries 24/7 to know the invaluable facts of books like that.
    Thanks, this is helpful. I think I will try to dig deeper and find better sources though.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:24 pm

    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
    For some books, even just Wikipedia is sufficient; sometimes important characters come up as the first clue (The Cherry Orchard and À la recherche du temps perdu last year...).
    So for the top 50 or so most frequent books, a deeper knowledge than used in sparknotes/wikipedia/benets would be needed to answer tossups at HSNCT?
    Well, a lot of the top 50 wouldn't be tossed up at HSNCT as far as I can tell (I guess they prefer to write an easy Death Comes for the Archbishop question instead of a hardMy Àntonia question, which makes sense).
    That's untrue, HSNCT has all kinds of questions about basic literature, presented in pretty diverse ways. Also, Death Comes for the Archbishop is extremely famous and not some kind of secondary Cather title, so your specific example is actually not very good.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by vinteuil » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:31 pm

    Horned Screamer wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:
    perlnerd666 wrote:
    shady jawn wrote:Would Sparknotes really be sufficient for HSNCT level lit?
    For some books, even just Wikipedia is sufficient; sometimes important characters come up as the first clue (The Cherry Orchard and À la recherche du temps perdu last year...).
    So for the top 50 or so most frequent books, a deeper knowledge than used in sparknotes/wikipedia/benets would be needed to answer tossups at HSNCT?
    Well, a lot of the top 50 wouldn't be tossed up at HSNCT as far as I can tell (I guess they prefer to write an easy Death Comes for the Archbishop question instead of a hardMy Àntonia question, which makes sense).
    That's untrue, HSNCT has all kinds of questions about basic literature, presented in pretty diverse ways. Also, Death Comes for the Archbishop is extremely famous and not some kind of secondary Cather title, so your specific example is actually not very good.
    I'll concede the first sentence. To the second: "Top 50 or so."
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:47 pm

    thyringe_supine wrote:So, basically I would say you shouldn't read a quizbowl-relevant book unless you actually find it interesting. You won't remember things if reading it was an unpleasant experience. Legit knowledge isn't actually very rewarding at all, especially when half the time you're looking for authors. You can learn so many other things in the time it takes to read a book. Take notes on every match you play. If you keep missing certain clues, just, say, write it on your hand, or get the title stuck in your head. Also, I recommend you don't use sparknotes, as it's geared to helping lazy english students, and therefore deals a lot more with emotion and thematic concepts than is useful. You don't need to be able to write an essay.
    I don't know how you're exactly qualified to suggest against reading books and making claims that "legit knowledge" isn't rewarding, but I think you're definitely in the wrong here. Studying quiz bowl as a means of "knowing lit" has got to be one of the most short-sighted things ever. If you, or one of your teammates, is a natural reader, there's a great chance that player will develop into either a power-house (literally) on certain topics in literature, or be an excellent supplement to the lit player who already has a good general knowledge in literature, thus turning in 30's on lit bonuses like clockwork. I have a teammate who, before even being introduced to quiz bowl his freshman year, read a lot of dystopians in addition to Gunter Grass, and has powered a plethora of questions on works like A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, and The Tin Drum simply because he has better knowledge. Not to mention that generally speaking, well-read students write very well, so that's another inherent pro of actually reading.

    I've read about four novels outside of the classroom that are well-known enough that they are in the quiz bowl canon. With the exception of Cat's Cradle, they are all works of world literature, and I have gotten early buzzes (including a power on DCC A last year) from reading the books, both for quiz bowl purposes and my enjoyment. As for your remark on "they ask about authors have the time", here's a remedy: read short stories. Seriously, read the well known ones and some more of the obscure ones, they're equally enjoyable. If reading is too much of a pain, then don't expect to be the Dwight Howard of quiz bowl literature, because you certainly won't be.

    Sparknotes is a great resource, I recommend it for plays, especially Elizabethean era works and older. Since your typical English class likely will not adequately cover everything you'll need to know about Ben Jonson or any of the Greeks, (I.e. Aristophanes) it's up to you to fill in the knowledge gap somehow. If you find plays hard to read, go with Sparknotes.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Beevor Feevor » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:59 pm

    I personally find plays quite easy to read and digest. It's mainly the massive novels (glares at Proust) that burn up my time. I never seem to be able to read summaries of those and retain them either. Short stories and poems are definitely worth reading for yourself though
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Emil Nolde » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:36 pm

    Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:
    thyringe_supine wrote:So, basically I would say you shouldn't read a quizbowl-relevant book unless you actually find it interesting. You won't remember things if reading it was an unpleasant experience. Legit knowledge isn't actually very rewarding at all, especially when half the time you're looking for authors. You can learn so many other things in the time it takes to read a book. Take notes on every match you play. If you keep missing certain clues, just, say, write it on your hand, or get the title stuck in your head. Also, I recommend you don't use sparknotes, as it's geared to helping lazy english students, and therefore deals a lot more with emotion and thematic concepts than is useful. You don't need to be able to write an essay.
    I don't know how you're exactly qualified to suggest against reading books and making claims that "legit knowledge" isn't rewarding, but I think you're definitely in the wrong here. Studying quiz bowl as a means of "knowing lit" has got to be one of the most short-sighted things ever. If you, or one of your teammates, is a natural reader, there's a great chance that player will develop into either a power-house (literally) on certain topics in literature, or be an excellent supplement to the lit player who already has a good general knowledge in literature, thus turning in 30's on lit bonuses like clockwork. I have a teammate who, before even being introduced to quiz bowl his freshman year, read a lot of dystopians in addition to Gunter Grass, and has powered a plethora of questions on works like A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, and The Tin Drum simply because he has better knowledge. Not to mention that generally speaking, well-read students write very well, so that's another inherent pro of actually reading.

    I've read about four novels outside of the classroom that are well-known enough that they are in the quiz bowl canon. With the exception of Cat's Cradle, they are all works of world literature, and I have gotten early buzzes (including a power on DCC A last year) from reading the books, both for quiz bowl purposes and my enjoyment. As for your remark on "they ask about authors have the time", here's a remedy: read short stories. Seriously, read the well known ones and some more of the obscure ones, they're equally enjoyable. If reading is too much of a pain, then don't expect to be the Dwight Howard of quiz bowl literature, because you certainly won't be.

    Sparknotes is a great resource, I recommend it for plays, especially Elizabethean era works and older. Since your typical English class likely will not adequately cover everything you'll need to know about Ben Jonson or any of the Greeks, (I.e. Aristophanes) it's up to you to fill in the knowledge gap somehow. If you find plays hard to read, go with Sparknotes.
    This is false. Consider those books that literally everyone has read. Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, the Great Gatsby. Do those always go on the first line? No. If you're a lover of music, are you going to be able to buzz just because "this work's second section closes with descending triads in the flutes"? No way. I've read Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, heck, I've read Harrison Bergeron. I read Vonnegut because he's awesome. Am I good at questions on him? Yes, but do I always first-line those works? No. The best way to get lit powers is by simply knowing what comes up. The more you know about a work beyond what is mentioned in a question, the more likely you will be to get confused.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't read quizbowl literature. They're great books; that's why we should know about them. But, you shouldn't read them solely to get better. That isn't how it works. I'm reading Ovid's Metamorphoses right now. Am I expecting it to make me a noticeably better myth guy? No, but I find the poetry to be absolutely hilarious. Do it because you want to, not because you think you have to.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Cody » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:53 pm

    I'm not sure why you're pontificating on this topic, James Z., but you really have no idea what you are talking about. Be careful of who you take your advice from in this thread, Allen Wang.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Emil Nolde » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:04 pm

    Really? Because it does make decent sense. If you read a work, then you get every word of it in your memory. In other words, a lot of information. If you know how a question on a work will sound, what order clues will come in, then eventually you can identify it as well, however, you only know what comes up. You're going to be able to recall exactly what you need faster. Everything that isn't in the question, which is most of the work most likely, is unneeded.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Smuttynose Island » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:27 pm

    thyringe_supine wrote:Really? Because it does make decent sense. If you read a work, then you get every word of it in your memory. In other words, a lot of information. If you know how a question on a work will sound, what order clues will come in, then eventually you can identify it as well, however, you only know what comes up. You're going to be able to recall exactly what you need faster. Everything that isn't in the question, which is most of the work most likely, is unneeded.
    I'm not how your memory works, but I definitely don't remember every word of every book that I read. Instead I, like most people I assume, tend to memorize large details (important plot events and what not) and repeated important words (such as character names). Reading the entire book allows you to know more of these large details and, since the repeated words are repeated more often in a book than they are in a wiki article or Sparknotes, remember character names and places better.

    I think it might do you some good to take a step back and really think about what you are saying, because right now it really sounds as if you think knowing MORE about a book will make it less likely for you to answer questions on it.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:13 am

    I sent you a private message earlier about how your posts suck James, why didn't you listen to my advice?

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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:41 am

    Currently the best player in the league I'm a coach in (and one of the top players in the state of Ohio) is dominating the league because she cleans everyone's clock in literature. She likes to read, and has read a lot of books. It's that simple.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Emil Nolde » Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:56 am

    Actually reading does help, but what I'm saying is that there are more productive ways to study, especially if you find what you're reading boring. You aren't going to remember a book if you hated every minute you spent in it. The best way to get better at quizbowl is by playing the game. No exceptions. There is no substitute for experience.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:35 am

    Since nobody in this thread is a very good literature player, I hope people reading it do not take most of these recommendations to heart. There's this idea implicit in these threads that with some magical study strategy, you can become good at literature without having to work at it. If you actually want to improve at quizbowl, the first thing you need to realize is that there is never such a magic bullet. Put simply: the best and only way of getting better at quizbowl in any category is by doing a lot of hard work to learn about important things. In literature, ways of doing that include playing quizbowl, reading summaries of books, writing questions on books, and reading books. Every good literature player has gotten to that level by doing some combination of those things and doing a lot of it. That's really all there is to say.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:44 pm

    Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:Since nobody in this thread is a very good literature player, I hope people reading it do not take most of these recommendations to heart. There's this idea implicit in these threads that with some magical study strategy, you can become good at literature without having to work at it. If you actually want to improve at quizbowl, the first thing you need to realize is that there is never such a magic bullet. Put simply: the best and only way of getting better at quizbowl in any category is by doing a lot of hard work to learn about important things. In literature, ways of doing that include playing quizbowl, reading summaries of books, writing questions on books, and reading books. Every good literature player has gotten to that level by doing some combination of those things and doing a lot of it. That's really all there is to say.
    The problem with these threads, in general, is that good players don't often post about what they did to get better, so we're often left with something of an echo chamber of people who don't really have the best background for this kind of advice. Hopefully, in future threads like this, better players will come in and give concrete advice.
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Cheynem » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:18 pm

    I think what frustrates "better" players is that these threads tend to pop up a kabillion times a year. I think what might be a good idea is a pasted "Suggestions for Improvement" compiled by someone featuring actual, solid suggestions from good players (most of which, I assume, would be the non-sexy, relatively standard things Matt Bollinger mentions here, but would be placed in its proper context, of advocated by great players without the echo chamber nonsense).
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    Re: Improving Literature Knowledge?

    Post by Beevor Feevor » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:51 pm

    Does such a thread exist? The fabled "How to get better at everything quiz bowl related" thread? If so, that would be really helpful (if this is a dumb question, I'm sorry. New here)
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