Required Reading at American Universities

I read this article at Quartz, and found some of the books to be interesting. Most of the books I have never thought of reading, and many I’ve never heard of.  However, there are some that I have shown interest in reading, and even one of them I have read.

Seems that the top book is Republic, by Plato. I’ve sometimes wondered if I should read it. Yale is interesting because it has The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer. I have them, and I’ve read the first one. They also have Invisible Man. Stanford has Robinson Crusoe and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. MIT lists The Communist Manifesto very high.

It’s a very interesting list, and it makes me remember my own university experience. I never had to read anything like this! But I was taking sciences, and we did very few humanities courses. The only humanities I did were English (a writing course) and Japanese. Everything else was science.

Is there anything that surprised you about these lists? Anything you’ve read and would recommend? Let me know in the comments.

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17 thoughts on “Required Reading at American Universities”

  1. Reblogged this on SOMETIMES and commented:
    Fascinating article. As an Historian and student of English (language) this is a topic close to my heart. Speaking only for myself, the required/recommended reading on these lists should stand without speculation about elitist or leftist purposes. The reason math and science texts tend to stick to their topics without speculation and judgemental comments is obvious: the World runs on political and academic knowledge and ideas, while math and science are not subject to endless interpretation. Thanks to I Read Encyclopedias For Fun blog for including the Reblog button.

  2. What surprises me is that anyone even tried to assemble such a list. US universities tend to have relatively open curricula. There may be requirements to take so many of certain types of courses, but there are few instances of required reading across the student body. With so many courses from which to choose, it is impossible to list which books are read by more students than others.

    1. Right. I was wondering about all the engineering and science books that are required reading in their courses. But maybe American universities in general require students to take various humanities courses. Everyone reads those books because they’re required to take those courses.

      1. Judging from my daughters’ experiences, there are dozens of courses each semester that would meet the general requirements. Only a fraction of the student body would be assigned a particular text.

        1. I’m wondering how they compiled the list. But anyway, there was one course that everyone was required to take in my university, and that was a first year English course about writing reports.

            1. I see. What I took was a first year English class, not a seminar. I’ve had seminars, though. One was for Japanese, but that was more of a workshop.

            2. The writing seminars that my daughters took were about fifteen students each, so there would be dozens of course options to accommodate all the first-year students.

            3. On US campuses, professors often develop first year writing seminars on a topic of interest to them and students. Shakespeare on Film, perhaps, or Pandemics, or the History of Marriage. The idea is to have some organizing principle to teach techniques of college level writing.

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