New Literary Trivia Night Puts Students and Professors to the Test


Literary Trivia

Emma Gutmann, Maroon-News Staff

Is there any better feeling than stepping into Lathrop Lounge with its endless supply of tea and multicolored cushiony bean bags?

Evidently, yes! Rather than hosting readers cozied up with blankets, the English Department switched things up and hosted a competitive and collaborative game of Literary Trivia on Wednesday, September 18.

Students and faculty gathered their snacks and organized the furniture into a quasi-circle before briefing the instructions. The game was split into five rounds in which participants guessed writers based on their photos, literary figures based on various clues, novels based on their opening lines and which author matched with which book or birthplace.

Head of the English Department Constance Harsh said she stumbled on the idea for this event with junior Carina Haden and fellow English Professor Lynn Staley because she was inspired by similar games at Donovan’s Pub and the Colgate Inn.

All of the questions were designed by Professor Harsh herself. Due to her passion for trivia and her career as a professional composer of questions, it was no big feat for her.

“I tried to create a balanced set of questions that ran the full gamut of literature in English. Since I’ve run Wednesday night trivia a couple of times and given a lot of tests over the years. I didn’t find it too hard to frame questions,” Harsh said.

Considering the impressive variety in terms of genres and time periods, her response was modest. Moreover, this game had greater goals than merely quizzing the students and faculty, Harsh explained.

“One of the reasons that I like team-based trivia is that you get to know other team members well, and you get to collaborate with them in finding an answer to a question. I think that events like this help build community,” Harsh said.

English Professors Lynn Staley and Greg Ames, who joined to create a power team, cursed the “literary gods” when they couldn’t recall a tidbit about sonnets that they had just taught in class.

Haden leaped in the air when her team remembered the fact and subsequently beat even the faculty to the correct answer.

Professor C.J. Hauser clasped her hands to her mouth when she accidentally revealed Samuel Johnson’s last name, while contestants were still writing down their answers.

Although it was unquestionably a competition, everybody lauded the opposing teams’ good guesses and victories. One of Haden’s favorite parts of the experience was the excitement and challenge the questions created.

“Even though most of those involved were on different teams, the collective enjoyment of testing our knowledge was so much fun, and it made clear how literature can really bring people together,” Haden said.

The trivia night creates the chance not just for English majors to show off what they’ve been learning in class, but for students and faculty to unleash a competitive side they might not have in the classroom. If you’ve ever wanted to outwit one of your professors, this is the game for you.

Hopefully this won’t be the last round of Literary Trivia and some fresh rivalries will continue to emerge as the semester goes forward.

“What I want people to know about Literary Trivia is that it is not just for English majors but for anyone who has a passion for literature and trivia. It was a really great event that we hope to host again in November, so stay tuned,” Haden said.


The competition may be quelled for now, but begin brushing up on literary facts and knowledge to be an underdog at next months Literary Trivia Night. If not for a passion in literature or trivia pursuit, then at least for the bean bag cushions and tea.