The Top 20 Assigned College Texts

strunkThe Open Syllabus Project aggregates college syllabi and analyzes the data to provide a variety of ways to explore the data held within. Their stated goal is to provide “a platform for curricular exploration and research.” Through their Open Syllabus Explorer you can search and browse to discover which books appear in these syllabuses. ¬†They also rank the texts based on how frequently they are assigned, giving a “teaching score” to each one. There is only one text that has received their highest score — not surprisingly, The Elements of Style. Here are the top twenty, with links to WorldCat:

  1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White
  2. Republic by Plato
  3. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
  4. Biology by Neil Campbell
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  6. Ethics by Aristotle
  7. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
  8. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  9. Oedipus by Sophocles
  10. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  11. The Odyssey by Homer
  12. Orientalism by Edward Said
  13. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate Turabian
  14. The Illiad by Homer
  15. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  16. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  17. Antigone by Sophocles
  18. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  19. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
  20. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

Thanks for Thom Hickey for bringing this project to my attention.