Leave “Oedipus” and “Frankenstein” for College?

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:

Rank Count Score Text
1 3,077 100.0
The Elements of Style
Strunk, William, 1869-1946
2 2,479 99.9
Republic
Plato
3 2,337 99.6
Biology
Campbell, Neil A., 1946
4 2,244 99.7
The Communist Manifesto
Marx, Karl, 1818-1883
5 1,862 99.4
Ethics
Aristotle
6 1,844 99.1
The Prince
Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469-1527
7 1,797 99.2
Leviathan
Hobbes, Thomas, 1588-1679
8 1,787 99.0
Oedipus
Sophocles
9 1,785 99.5
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851
10 1,729 98.5
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?

Screenshot 2016-01-24 09.59.42 Screenshot 2016-01-24 10.00.22It 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?

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