2017 WAO: History (New Approaches)

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2017 WAO: History (New Approaches)

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Recently, there was a flurry of discussion over what to do with quizbowl's history distribution. I was sympathetic to some of the arguments in the thread, and decided to use WAO as a platform for my view of what the history category can be like. Here's a non-exhaustive list of things I think this tournament did differently than others:

- Reduced British and Classical history (I kept 1/1 Euro, as I did in EFT)
- More historiography/"writings about history", though not to excess
- More archaeology
- "Big picture" questions - I'm going to use this to refer to the pattern of taking a single type of policy or event and examining how different people/institutions related to it throughout history. In this tournament, I think some examples of this were the questions on ending slavery, boycotting South Africa, and the Irrawaddy River - each of these took an important historical process or geographic feature and examined how different people interacted with it.
- Focus on military history as it connected to broader events - i.e. the Sardinia-Piedmont clue about how the state was formed from cessations as a result of the War of Spanish Succession, the bonus on the Sixth Crusade clued from its diplomatic success, the Don Carlos question, the bonus on the Nine Years' War's impact on anti-Dutch tarrifs, etc. The "pure" military history was generally on things I had either watched documentaries on or had read about in military history books (i.e. Legnica and Subutai's campaigning, which was reworked from a submission).
- Few questions on Named Events or relying on clues from such - the big exception being the "October" tossup, which has been reworked a bit so that it says "it's not a specific historical event" in the lead-in now. For what it's worth, I used this answerline because the original submission was just on the 1905 revolution, and doing a question on that seemed limiting and wouldn't allow exploration of Duma-era politics or the later impact of the October Manifesto.

I'd like to know what people thought of these attempts to pioneer "alternate" approaches to history, alongside a fair helping of standard fare. I hope these different approaches helped make the category more educational and interesting to play on!
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling »

I was a fan of the history here (addendum: I liked that the one battle tossup was on Stamford Bridge, as (a) it's a highly significant battle no one really tosses up and (b) I studied it shortly before the tournament). Taking on historical approaches that emphasize long-term trends is something that can be done, with some limitations, in the quiz bowl format.
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by csheep »

Can I see the Li Zicheng tossup?
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Re: History (New Approaches)

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Maryland A wrote:By popular legend, a traitorous general only chose to oppose this person on account of the treatment of the general’s concubine Chen Yuanyuan. This person’s political program, which promised the abolition of the grain tax, was put into slogans by an ex-juren named Yan. A horrifying disastrous attempt to defeat this leader’s forces resulted in the destruction of China’s largest Jewish community, found in Kaifeng, by a man-made flood. Because he was unwilling to surrender to this person, Zhu Youjian [“YO”-jien] hanged himself on the so-called “guilty scholar tree.” This person stupidly massacred the family of (*) Wu Sangui, who then allowed Dorgon and his armies past the Great Wall to defeat this person at Shanhai Pass. This person ruled for one year as the “Dashing King” of the Shun dynasty before he and his peasant followers were crushed by Manchus. For 10 points, name this man who led a rebellion that prompted the fall of the Ming dynasty.
ANSWER: Li Zicheng [prompt on Li] <Edited>
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by Mike Bentley »

I haven't looked back at it, but I didn't feel while playing the history that it was all that different than the history at a typical tournament. Which is probably in its favor, as more incremental approaches in changing how a category is written are probably better than huge changes.

One history tossup I wasn't a big fan of was the University of Texas one. It went from a very generic clue about admissions policies (that I'd be surprised don't apply to numerous states), to a hard clue about the architecture, to perhaps the most famous clue about UT, the shooting spree.
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Mike Bentley wrote:One history tossup I wasn't a big fan of was the University of Texas one. It went from a very generic clue about admissions policies (that I'd be surprised don't apply to numerous states), to a hard clue about the architecture, to perhaps the most famous clue about UT, the shooting spree.
This was an other academic tossup. For what it's worth, in both games that I read that tossup, it was gotten at the architecture clue.
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by ErikC »

I quite liked the changes you mentioned. Named event tossups on things like the Radolfi Plot are quite uninteresting for how some people (like me) learn and interact with history.

However, I think tossups on "goals" are tricky, and I thought the ending slavery question was fairly transparent. Perhaps it's metagaming a little bit but there are only so many "goals" that aren't independence movements. Maybe I'm wrong because that step takes some knowledge in the first place.
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by csheep »

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Maryland A wrote:By popular legend, a traitorous general only chose to oppose this person on account of the treatment of the general’s concubine Chen Yuanyuan. This person’s political program, which promised the abolition of the grain tax, was put into slogans by an ex-juren named Yan. A horrifying disastrous attempt to defeat this leader’s forces resulted in the destruction of China’s largest Jewish community, found in Kaifeng, by a man-made flood. Because he was unwilling to surrender to this person, Zhu Youjian [“YO”-jien] hanged himself on the so-called “guilty scholar tree.” This person stupidly massacred the family of (*) Wu Sangui, who then allowed Dorgon and his armies past the Great Wall to defeat this person at Shanhai Pass. This person ruled for one year as the “Dashing King” of the Shun dynasty before he and his peasant followers were crushed by Manchus. For 10 points, name this man who led a rebellion that prompted the fall of the Ming dynasty.
ANSWER: Li Zicheng [prompt on Li] <Edited>
Thanks. Random nitpick that has nothing to do with how the question played - Yan should be more accurately be Li Yan since Yan was his given name.
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

csheep wrote:Random nitpick that has nothing to do with how the question played - Yan should be more accurately be Li Yan since Yan was his given name.
I actually intentionally omitted his surname. Admittedly there are a lot of Lis in China, but saying "Li" in a tossup on _Li Zicheng_ seemed aesthetically unpleasing.
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Re: History (New Approaches)

Post by csheep »

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
csheep wrote:Random nitpick that has nothing to do with how the question played - Yan should be more accurately be Li Yan since Yan was his given name.
I actually intentionally omitted his surname. Admittedly there are a lot of Lis in China, but saying "Li" in a tossup on _Li Zicheng_ seemed aesthetically unpleasing.
Yeah I can see that but it still feels a bit weird since it's like giving a generic first name for a western individual.

Tangentially related, the fact that Li Yan shared a last name with LI Zicheng was a non-trivial part of his eventual demise per some accounts, since there was a rumor/prophecy going around that the world was going to go to someone with the surname Li (well, said more obliquely with Chinese puns, but yeah), which caused Li Zicheng to execute Li Yan for fear of getting usurped.
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