Yet More Core Books


The Core recently did a survey of syllabi in programs at other schools offering courses that are like Core in method and structure: primary texts, organized chronologically, giving students a working knowledge of the foundational works and ideas of our shared cultural heritage. While many of the books we saw on those other syllabi were familiar to us — Gilgamesh! The Aeneid! The Confessions! Pride & Prejudice! — we were intrigued by the range of readings that aren’t studied in our own classes, but which we could imagine falling into place on our reading list if there were only room enough.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the major works students in other Core programs are reading. Some of them you’ll likely have heard of; others are less commonly encountered, inside the classroom or outside of it. In any case, we here in the Core office think a case could be made for including any or all of these books in a Core-type course.  But then, we here in the Core office also think a case could be made for establishing Core-type courses for students in the third year, and the fourth year, and, why not, as continuing education courses that alumni can take on campus or via some kind of online connection. Ὁ βίος βραχύς! If there is an emblem for our bookworm affliction, it would have to be poor tragic Henry Bemis from that old episode of The Twilight Zone….

So, what do you think? What Core-type texts — essential works of lasting cultural relevance, artistic greatness, or societal value — would YOU add to the reading list, if we could double our time in the classroom? 

  1. Aeschylus: Agamemnon
  2. anonynous: Lazarillo do Tormes
  3. Arendt: On Violence
  4. Aristophanes: The Clouds
  5. Augustine: Confessions
  6. Beckett: Waiting for Godot
  7. Berlin: Many Thousands Gone – The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America
  8. Brecht: The Threepenny Opera
  9. Calvino: Invisible Cities
  10. Cather: A Lost Lady
  11. Conrad: Heart of Darkness and Selections from the Congo Diary
  12. Cook, trans.: Njal’s Saga
  13. Das: The Difficulty of Being Good
  14. Dostoyevsky: Underground Man
  15. Douglass: The Narrative and Selected Writings
  16. DuBois: Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil
  17. Euridipes: Hippolytus
  18. Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth
  19. Freud: An Outline of Psychoanalysis
  20. Gates: Classic Slave Narratives
  21. Hemingway: Natural History of the Dead
  22. Ibsen: Hedda Gabler
  23. Kafka: Metamorphosis
  24. King: Letter from Birmingham Jail
  25. Lucretius: On the Nature of Things
  26. Luther: Concerning Christian Liberty
  27. Mead: Coming to Age in Samoa
  28. Plato: Apology
  29. Plato: Gorgias
  30. Rousseau: The Origin of Civil Society
  31. Sandel: Justice – What’s the Right Thing to Do?
  32. Shakespeare: Henry V
  33. Shakespeare: Richard II
  34. Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice
  35. Shakespeare: The Tempest
  36. Singh: The Train to Pakistan
  37. Sophocles: Antigone
  38. Sophocles: Oedipus the King
  39. Soyinka: Death and the King’s Horseman
  40. Varisco: Chimpanzee Politics
  41. Warhol and Doctorow: Book of Daniel
  42. Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway
  43. Woolf: To the Lighthouse

Post a Comment

Your email address is never shared. Required fields are marked *