Want to get a literature foundation

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Want to get a literature foundation

Post by New York Undercover » Sat May 02, 2009 12:54 am

I'm on a team which thinks it is better than it really is, and unfortunately we are too caught up with getting good at the crappiness of the NTAE format to really improve ourselves in what we are weak in. I'm "the math guy", and I consider myself strong in computation math. That's about it. I can answer other questions sparsely in practice, but I don't have a real subject for next year when I hope to get my team to go to some NAQT style tournaments. Since no one on my team can get any literature tossup that is not ridiculously easy, I thought this would be a good place to start, but I'm not sure how to start my foundation. I know people here advise me to just read through packets, but I would think there would be a more efficient way to begin studying. Do packets exist for solely one subject? Are there lists out there with authors/books/plots/characters, or something like this? (Hopefully I am not making overly simplifying assumptions)
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by dxdtdemon » Sat May 02, 2009 1:24 am

NAQT sells literature frequency lists. There's also a somewhat out of date free frequency list from Carelton College, which can be found here: http://orgs.carleton.edu/quizteam/Literature.html
EDIT: included link
Last edited by dxdtdemon on Sat May 02, 2009 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Matt Weiner » Sat May 02, 2009 1:26 am

quantumfootball wrote:NAQT sells literature frequency lists. There's also a somewhat out of date free frequency list from Carelton College. Someone please provide the link for that.
But seriously, folks.

Yeah, there are several all-lit tournaments:

http://quizbowlpackets.com/archive/09hslit/Finals/
http://collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com/a ... _lit_2006/
http://collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com/a ... _lit_2007/
http://collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com/a ... _lit_2004/
http://collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com/archive/08lit/

Those seem like a good place to start, and you can go on to read things that come up a lot or acquire some encyclopedias or histories of literature to browse for info.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by New York Undercover » Sat May 02, 2009 1:45 am

I found a suggestion to look at the "You gotta know" lists NAQT gives, with the literature one here: http://naqt.com/YouGottaKnow/works-of-literature-3.html
How would the contests of this list compare to those of the carleton list? I mean, should I assume that NAQT will be a better source for this kind of frequency list, if I want to get better at NAQT literature questions?

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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Red-necked Phalarope » Sat May 02, 2009 3:57 pm

It's probably not worth full price and jumps all around the canon, but The Top Ten includes paragraph-length summaries of the 544 works included on 125 different authors' lists of "the top ten greatest works of fiction of all time". It'd probably be pretty useful for giveaway- and middle-level clues, especially when paired with QBDB or Google-searching the lit tournaments Matt mentioned--and the lists themselves are entertaining, to boot.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Tower Monarch » Sat May 02, 2009 8:06 pm

klebian wrote:I found a suggestion to look at the "You gotta know" lists NAQT gives, with the literature one here: http://naqt.com/YouGottaKnow/works-of-literature-3.html
How would the contests of this list compare to those of the carleton list? I mean, should I assume that NAQT will be a better source for this kind of frequency list, if I want to get better at NAQT literature questions?
I think in general, this type of "foundation" is not really your best plan. If you want to be good at pyramidal questions, you need to buzz in the first half, and the titles on your list are not going to get you tossups on authors before "for ten points". Plus, list knowledge will almost never get you a well-written question on a work before the last couple words. Look over those tournaments, ignore the lists and read the works that sound interesting and you will do more than fine.
What you'll find with list knowledge is that when you want to make that jump from "good" player to "great" player, you'll have to start reading these works, whereas if you begin there, it will be a steady climb to the top. Of all the top literature players I know, none of them base their knowledge on lists (some have never even tried them) and all of them read more than I.
I don't know your particular interests, but I have found literary criticism to be an engaging alternative to reading works you probably won't get around to reading. And if you must find a quick way to learn as much as possible, go with summaries rather than lists (Benet's Readers Encyclopedia does a fine job with this, Master Plots does a better job). Hope that helps.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by ihavenoidea » Sat May 02, 2009 8:19 pm

I disagree with Cameron. Lists are a good foundation for lit knowledge. If you want to be an average lit player, memorize lists. If you want to be a good lit player, read a lot of sparknotes. If you want to be a great lit player, read a lot of works.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by dtaylor4 » Sat May 02, 2009 8:35 pm

If you're looking to get good quick, lists are not the way to go.

If you have time, lists are a good foundation. After you learn a list, go look up tossups on those works and try to write some of your own.

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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by at your pleasure » Sat May 02, 2009 10:24 pm

As a decent-to-good lit player, I would suggest reading a lot of questions. The tournaments Matt Wiener linked to are good; I also like to search for random stuff on QBDB(which helps with stock college clues that are not yet stock high school clues). If you want to get to the top, read books and write questions. Poetry is something that you can read more of. If you want to figure out what to study, try taking notes at your next tournamet on what you miss.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Bananaquit » Sat May 02, 2009 10:42 pm

Anti-Climacus wrote:Poetry is something that you can read more of.
If you don't have time during the school year to be constantly reading novels (like me), I would suggest this. There are lots of poets that get asked about, and it doesn't take too long to read lots of their works. Also, it would probably help you if you picked some area of literature that you are particularly interested in and focused on that to get really deep knowledge (e.g. Hispanic lit, Asian lit, American lit). That way, you'll get at least some areas of lit significantly before the FTP. If you can get more teammates interested, then you can split up the lit and cover more.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Kouign Amann » Sat May 02, 2009 11:16 pm

Anti-Climacus wrote:Poetry is something that you can read more of.
Try reading a poem a day. It doesn't take long, it will beef up your skills, and it is enjoyable in and of itself. There's so much good poetry out there it's ridiculous.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon May 04, 2009 12:03 am

These old questions are not written nearly as well as the ones Matt linked to and are only about 50% lit, but they might be better geared to your level.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 04, 2009 12:09 am

Reading short stories is another fairly easy way to go--stuff like the Norton Anthology of Literature is gold here.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Gautam » Mon May 04, 2009 8:22 am

Cheynem wrote:Reading short stories is another fairly easy way to go--stuff like the Norton Anthology of Literature is gold here.
Now, if individual short stories were tossed up more.... all that summer short story reading I did last year would pay off.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Sir Thopas » Mon May 04, 2009 11:08 am

Shcool wrote:These old questions are not written nearly as well as the ones Matt linked to and are only about 50% lit, but they might be better geared to your level.
...Except that they don't really teach you anything valuable of literature at all that you couldn't get from reading a list of authors and works.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon May 04, 2009 11:30 am

Sir Thopas wrote:
Shcool wrote:These old questions are not written nearly as well as the ones Matt linked to and are only about 50% lit, but they might be better geared to your level.
...Except that they don't really teach you anything valuable of literature at all that you couldn't get from reading a list of authors and works.
The Lear, Faust, and Kilgore Trout tossups, in the first four pages, seem to contain actual clues from the works. Not great clues, but at least it's not just a list of titles and biographical clues.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by New York Undercover » Fri May 08, 2009 1:46 am

Because I don't want to create a new thread, I'll just ask here: how do most people read packets? zoomed in so they can only see one line at a time? I wish there was a good fix so that I could have the packet I was reading spew out one line at a time (like on #scobowl), but I could retain the ability to scroll down when I think I know it. I know this is kind of a "cop-out" question because high zoom and scrolling line by line does work, but someone musti have thought of an easier fix.
(Sorry if a similar question has been asked before, I attempted to search for it but there was no keyword I could think of that would separate such a question from hundreds of other packets.

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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Scott » Tue May 12, 2009 8:00 pm

I believe that spark notes and online lists are a great way to build a foundation in literature.
If were willing to pay a bit "e-notes" is much more comprehensive and includes a plethora of titles.
You may also want to buy reference books such as Benet's Readers Encyclopedia.
It may also benefit you to go to ACE camp for literature.
There classes help build a very firm foundation in any subject, while giving you tons of resources for future study.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by euterpe42 » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:10 pm

As my team's "lit person," I have to say that for me, it's mostly having read the books that helped me (well, and having a mother who's an English teacher, but I don't think that's something you can easily acquire). However, I think that having a good knowledge of authors and their works helps. Try and pick an author a day, and look up their most famous works and a one-sentence or so blurb about each work. Try the NAQT lists for starting authors, and then online author biographies (there are plenty of websites that provide these) for the information. Good luck!
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Tanay » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:02 am

ihavenoidea wrote:I disagree with Cameron. Lists are a good foundation for lit knowledge. If you want to be an average lit player, memorize lists. If you want to be a good lit player, read a lot of sparknotes. If you want to be a great lit player, read a lot of works.
If you want to be a ridiculously, unbelievably good player, get a job at Barnes & Noble or Borders. The people who work there know everything there is to know about literature.
But in all seriousness, another neat place to look is at the databases page on your local library's website. Many libraries subscribe to a bunch of databases that members can access. These usually include online encyclopedias and archives.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Sir Thopas » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:08 am

tk447 wrote:If you want to be a ridiculously, unbelievably good player, get a job at Barnes & Noble or Borders. The people who work there know everything there is to know about literature.
Once I went into a Borders and saw The Tale of Genji filed under Shikibu.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Tanay » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:16 am

Sir Thopas wrote:
tk447 wrote:If you want to be a ridiculously, unbelievably good player, get a job at Barnes & Noble or Borders. The people who work there know everything there is to know about literature.
Once I went into a Borders and saw The Tale of Genji filed under Shikibu.
Fair enough. Although a lot of people who know the book is by Murasaki Shikibu (and maybe aren't familiar with Japanese naming conventions) would reflexively head to the "S" section to pick up a copy.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Sir Thopas » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:19 am

tk447 wrote:
Sir Thopas wrote:
tk447 wrote:If you want to be a ridiculously, unbelievably good player, get a job at Barnes & Noble or Borders. The people who work there know everything there is to know about literature.
Once I went into a Borders and saw The Tale of Genji filed under Shikibu.
Fair enough. Although a lot of people who know the book is by Murasaki Shikibu (and maybe aren't familiar with Japanese naming conventions) would reflexively head to the "S" section to pick up a copy.
SAnyone at all familiar with the book would know that it's by Lady Murasaki, or something equivalent.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Auroni » Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:23 am

well, her name is Lady Murasaki Shikibu, and Western chronicles record her name as Lady Murasaki. (Curiously enough, Shikibu isn't uniquely identifying, even for a Heian era court writer!) But I don't think an unfamiliarity with established naming conventions betrays a lack of real literature knowledge, and sources tell me that that name was just a pseudonym anyway, which should be the grounds for some leeway.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:11 am

Without regard to knowledge of naming conventions, B&N, Borders, and their ilk aren't necessary the best places to learn about literature. Independent bookstores tend to have better selections and their employees often have actually read a lot of stuff past the Twilight/Harry Potter/Dan Brown genre. Also, support local businesses.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Auroni » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:11 pm

I want to echo the truth of Charlie's posts; B+N employees are far less prone to know stuff about real literature, than say, the owner of a antique or used bookstore.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:14 am

I consider myself to be a pretty good literature player, and I have not read any of the "classics" that quizbowl loves. We all know that Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick and that is deals with a white whale and Ahab etc. but not many people are going to know Typee or Omoo, especially at the HS level. I know it is "bad" quizbowl, but being able to memorize a list of 10 works by author will get you a lot of tossups on early to middle clues. I believe this would make a good foundation for a player who is starting fresh. Once you know 5ish tossups on 200 authors, you can then expand your knowledge to plot summaries or stock clues, making you an even better player because you will be better at bonuses too.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:55 am

TheLessFamousEthan wrote:I consider myself to be a pretty good literature player, and I have not read any of the "classics" that quizbowl loves. We all know that Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick and that is deals with a white whale and Ahab etc. but not many people are going to know Typee or Omoo, especially at the HS level. I know it is "bad" quizbowl, but being able to memorize a list of 10 works by author will get you a lot of tossups on early to middle clues. I believe this would make a good foundation for a player who is starting fresh. Once you know 5ish tossups on 200 authors, you can then expand your knowledge to plot summaries or stock clues, making you an even better player because you will be better at bonuses too.
That said, getting used to this style of play will hurt you substantially at higher levels of play.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Cheynem » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:25 am

One piece of advice I have is to try to write short tossups on books or authors you want to learn more about. These wouldn't be used for packet submission stuff (you can use them in practice if you want), but it's a good way to zero in on the memorable incidents or characters that question writers like.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:12 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
TheLessFamousEthan wrote:I consider myself to be a pretty good literature player, and I have not read any of the "classics" that quizbowl loves. We all know that Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick and that is deals with a white whale and Ahab etc. but not many people are going to know Typee or Omoo, especially at the HS level. I know it is "bad" quizbowl, but being able to memorize a list of 10 works by author will get you a lot of tossups on early to middle clues. I believe this would make a good foundation for a player who is starting fresh. Once you know 5ish tossups on 200 authors, you can then expand your knowledge to plot summaries or stock clues, making you an even better player because you will be better at bonuses too.
That said, getting used to this style of play will hurt you substantially at higher levels of play.
Luckily he is in high school
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by New York Undercover » Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:48 pm

Meh, but only for another year. If you look at my other thread, you may note that I'm probably gonna end up doing something like you suggest. But I do want to continue quizbowl in college and I know that getting good at knowing authors -> list of works will barely help me there.

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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by millionwaves » Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:43 pm

klebian wrote:Meh, but only for another year. If you look at my other thread, you may note that I'm probably gonna end up doing something like you suggest. But I do want to continue quizbowl in college and I know that getting good at knowing authors -> list of works will barely help me there.
It'll probably help you more than you think, unfortunately.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:51 pm

There's no denying that knowing title-author pairs can help you at nearly any level of play, but memorizing lists of them isn't necessarily the best way to acquire that knowledge. You're going to get bored, confuse titles with the one you memorized right afterwards because you have no context, and waste a lot of the limited time you have to prepare for quizbowl.

If you instead write a bunch of good literature questions that incorporate titles (especially helpful: dropping some Melville work you've never heard of before into that "who wrote Moby-Dick" easy part of a Melville bonus) you will learn these things more organically, learn less fraudulent material at the same time, and be able to compete with the flashcard-hoarders without doing what they do.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by millionwaves » Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:02 pm

Matt Weiner wrote: If you instead write a bunch of good literature questions that incorporate titles (especially helpful: dropping some Melville work you've never heard of before into that "who wrote Moby-Dick" easy part of a Melville bonus) you will learn these things more organically, learn less fraudulent material at the same time, and be able to compete with the flashcard-hoarders without doing what they do.
Noone's reinforced this in a while, but this is really the best advice anyone can give anyone on how to improve.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:40 pm

My previous post came off kind of douche-y, and I would like to apologize for that ahead of time. In my opinion, if you are starting from a near blank slate, being able to know a wide group of authors is a very good foundation. I feel that if you separate the others you are trying to learn into different sections, i.e. French playwrights, Harlem Renaissance etc, you will be able to get a lot of tossups before "FTP." This is pretty much list memorization, but as anyone on here will attest to, that will not make you a very good player. I feel that for a player who has never really gotten into literature, simply being introduced to a wide range of authors/works will make you notice how often they come up and you will begin to notice what clues come with them. Once you have this foundation, adding onto the work-author relationship is not as hard as trying to read plot summaries and memorize Title, Author, Main Characters, Plot, and Genre.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Auroni » Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:07 am

at some point during my senior year, I evolved from my "take author, go to wiki page, memorize every title on that page" method to actually reading some of the plot summaries of a bunch of works. That way, I've found, you can get some plot elements to stick even if you don't particularly remember a work's title. I usually find the plot element to author association more reliable than "random-as-heck title" to author association, but that may just be me.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Charbroil » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:13 am

It's probably somewhat self evident, but you might also want to consider reading some of the books that come up in Quiz Bowl--they're really quite good, for the most part. I've been reading Toni Morrison and Robert Louis Stevenson, and I have Mahfouz and Faulkner in my to do list, and it hasn't been half bad.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by at your pleasure » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:20 am

Mahfouz
I feel like I have to warn you that Mahfouz can be very slow going sometimes.
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Re: Want to get a literature foundation

Post by Alejandro » Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:13 am

Censorship in Burma wrote:at some point during my senior year, I evolved from my "take author, go to wiki page, memorize every title on that page" method to actually reading some of the plot summaries of a bunch of works. That way, I've found, you can get some plot elements to stick even if you don't particularly remember a work's title. I usually find the plot element to author association more reliable than "random-as-heck title" to author association, but that may just be me.
This strategy has helped me out as well. It also helps you beat out people who only memorize lists since descriptions of works often come before the title in questions.
Alejandro
Naperville Central '07
Harvey Mudd '11
University of Washington '17

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