There is a new interactive tool that compares college curriculum across over 1 million syllabi. This syllabus comparison ranks the works that are assigned in courses. The data can be filtered by text, by college, by discipline, by state, and by county. This leads to some interesting comparisons….and soul-searching.
In the United States, the top ten texts assigned at colleges that submitted syllabi are:
The Elements of Style
Strunk, William, 1869-1946
Campbell, Neil A., 1946
The Communist Manifesto
Marx, Karl, 1818-1883
Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
Hobbes, Thomas, 1588-1679
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations
Turabian, Kate L.
The list is familiar to me. I assigned three of these choices: Elements of Style, Oedipus, and Frankenstein to students over the course of classroom teaching in grades 10th and 12th. I also wonder why anyone would bother to assign Turabian?
It is never too early, or too often, to require Strunk and White’s writing manual Elements of Style.
On the other hand, as much as I loved teaching Oedipus and Frankenstein, I wonder if I should have left them to college?