The Top 20 Books Being Taught at Today's Colleges

Here's what college students are reading.

Lillie M. Thomas | January 25, 2016

Here's what college students are reading.

The Open Syllabus Project has collected over 1 million college syllabi, according to the New York Times. Analyzing that data, they have compiled a database of texts used in college classrooms and just how often they are used.


The architects of the project hope their data will shed new light on “teaching, publishing and intellectual history.”  It will also allow all of us to better compare today's college curricula to those of the past.


Below are the top 20 most taught works in college classrooms. Visit the Syllabus Explorer to see the full list.


 


1. The Elements of Style


Strunk, William, 1869-1946


 


2. Republic


Plato


 


3. The Communist Manifesto


Marx, Karl, 1818-1883


 


4. Biology


Campbell, Neil A., 1946


 


5. Frankenstein


Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851


 


6. Ethics


Aristotle


 


7. Leviathan


Hobbes, Thomas, 1588-1679


 


8. The Prince


Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527


 


9. Oedipus


Sophocles


 


10. Hamlet


Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616


 


11. The Odyssey


Homer


 


12. Orientalism


Said, Edward W.


 


13. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations


Turabian, Kate L.


 


14. The Iliad


Homer


 


15. Heart of Darkness


Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924


 


16. Canterbury Tales


Chaucer, Geoffrey, -1400


 


17. Antigone


Sophocles


 


18. Letter from the Birmingham Jail


King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968


 


19. On Liberty


Mill, John Stuart, 1806-1873


 


20. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions


Kuhn, Thomas S.


 


What this list can’t tell us is how many students actually bothered to read the assigned works. And given the state of education in this country, I’m guessing quite a few bought the CliffNotes version. 


 


Image: Skylar Lester/Pierce College News