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How did Sparknotes Change the Lives of English Majors?

How did the famous website changed how English Literature students read (or don’t read), study and write essays? Does it promote more intellectual laziness than it is beneficial for general understanding of studied texts? Talk about how studying literature is different now than it used to be, before the democratization of internet.

  • Perhaps it did not revolutionized English Majors' lives, but it certainly did change something. Not having to buy cheat-sheets, or even to be able to download them on pirate sites, made it much easier not only for students but also for providers. Maybe it can be included in your similar article. – Léandre Larouche 4 years ago
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  • I agree that it is possible that Sparknotes might have made a fundamental change. I think a more likely candidate, though, would be Wikipedia. I remember a professor of mine arguing that, despite popular understanding, people today were considerably less intellectually free than people were during the 19th century in Britain. For a lot of us, wikipedia is the primary, go-to source for a great span of information, which means that we're absorbing the same details with the same slant, in the same tone, as everyone else, and bumping into as little information along the way. Sparknotes, obviously, has certain precedents in print form, but I do agree that the momentary accessibility of the entirety of Sparknotes makes it possible to pretend to know how a piece of literature goes with basically zero meaningful experience whatever. – TKing 4 years ago
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  • It has completely changed for the better in my view because now students have to consider how they interpret the texts. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • The online implications of Sparknotes have had tremendous repercussions. Students no longer have to figure out traditional themes themselves. It forces students to write from a post-modern view. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • As a teacher, I'm kind of torn on the idea of SparksNotes. I would rather students learn to analyze a text on their own, but sometimes when a student is struggling to understand what is happening in a text and getting too frustrated I think that having a quick overview is a good thing, because they can then discuss it in more detail. That being said, I have noticed a lot more plagiarism in schools now with the availability of sites like SparksNotes. (I'm talking cut and pasted right from the site). Great topic! – Lauren Mead 4 years ago
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  • Sparknotes can facilitate plagiarism if not used properly. Sparknotes and the like should be used to help the student clarify as Lauren has pointed out. It is the first step in analysis and should be developed into the students' own ideas and how they further analyze the themes, symbolism and other rhetorical devices on their own. If used as a tool, any type of notes on the internet can be helpful to springboard original ideas. Anything used to cut and paste from the internet is intellectual theft if not properly credited. If a student does not remember where in virtual reality he/she got his or her source from then that should be noted as well.The internet has made the accessibility of such notes almost without barriers. Also, let's not forget that most authors are willing to include an email address where they can be contacted. In the past, communiqué with authors was relegated to once in a lifetime screenings at a university campus. I think more students should try contacting authors directly for their papers. I have found this to be a surprisingly effective tool when teaching Grade 11 and 12 English. Most authors respond and many have a question and answer page where some other students has posted a similar question. Accessibility to interacting with authors is for me the second most important advantage to online research. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • Here's what can happen if one relies too much on Sparknotes:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sXJ8tKRlW3E– Tigey 4 years ago
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  • Sparknotes and other similar websites have bumped up the policing of plagiarism as plagiarism itself has become more accessible due to these websites. There are programs in place now to help avoid and detect plagiarism before a student submits a paper, that's how bad lazy students have gotten. Should the blame for this issue be put on websites like Sparknotes that were created with nothing but good intentions of helping students? – rowenachandler 4 years ago
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  • Sparknote effect not only exists in English Majors but in history and other social sciences majors. I read Sparknotes for studying Political Science since I'm not native. It's as helpful as wikipedia, to know some background information. I know there's another website named quizlet, which also helps students to learn. The phenomenon can also trace back to the advancement of technology and the insistence of E-learning. It's an extremely broad issue. – moonyuet 4 years ago
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  • E-learning would be a deserving topic. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • As an English major, I find this to be a very interesting topic, and I agree that there are definitely pros and cons of sparknotes-the pros being that students can use these notes to help them analyze something they miss or don't understand. The cons of course would be that they people can easily plagarize them and be so reliant it discourages them from actually reading the text and drawing their own conclusions. – enizzari 4 years ago
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  • I was an English major and pretty much stayed away from Sparknotes. Yet some of the texts I was assigned were so old, or so complicated, that I found the site really helped. (I never would've gotten through James Joyce's Ulysses without it). I also wonder if teachers and professors shouldn't embrace Sparknotes more. Sparknotes explains complicated literature in an easy-to-understand and sometimes fun way, which can be hard to do in a classroom when it's 8 AM and you're talking to 20-something people who'd rather still be in bed. What would happen to English if Sparknotes were embraced; would it become a "friendlier" subject? – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
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