MA in Liberal Arts Reading Lists

Great Books Curriculum

St. John’s College was founded in 1696 and is best known for the Great Books curriculum that was adopted in 1937. While the list of books has evolved over the last century, the tradition of having all students read foundational texts of Western civilization remains. The books read at St. John’s include classic works in philosophy, literature, political science, psychology, history, religion, economics, mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, music, language, and more.

The information presented is for illustration purposes only and may not correspond in every detail with the current reading list and preceptorial and study group offerings. Works listed are studied at one or both campuses, although not always in their entirety.

Philosophy & Theology

Genesis

Exodus

Job

Matthew

John

Romans

Plato Meno

Plato Phaedo

Plato Symposium

Aristotle Metaphysics

Aristotle De Anima

Augustine Confessions

Aquinas Summa Theologica

Descartes Meditations

Hume An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Hume Treatise of Human Nature

Kant Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics

Kant Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals

Kierkegaard Philosophical Fragments

Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil

Aristotle Metaphysics

Augustine Confessions

Calvin Institutes

Gospel of John

Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit

Heidegger Being and Time

Hume A Treatise of Human Nature

Kant Critique of Pure Reason

Kierkegaard Either/Or

Merleau-Ponty Phenomenology of Perception

Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed

Nietzche On the Genealogy of Morals

Porete; Julian of Norwich; Teresa of Avila Three Female Christian Mystics

Spinoza Theologico-Political Treatise

Whitehead Science and the Modern World; Process and Reality

Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations

Xenophon Education of Cyrus

Albert Camus Essays and Novels on Rebellion, History, and the Absurd Ethics

Descartes Discourse on Method and Passions of the Soul

Carl Jung Essential Readings

Politics & Society

Plutarch Lives of Lycurgus and Solon

Plato Republic

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics

Aquinas Summa Theologica

Machiavelli The Prince

Hobbes Leviathan

Locke Second Treatise of Civil Government

Rousseau Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

Nietzsche On the Genealogy of Morals

Marx Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts

Marx The German Ideology

Tocqueville Democracy in America

Montesquieu The Spirit of the Laws

Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, U.S. Constitution

Madison, Hamilton, Jay The Federalist Papers

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

Aristotle Politics

Hegel Philosophy of Right

Hobbes Leviathan

Lincoln Selected Speeches

Machiavelli Discourses on Livy

Mentesquieu The Spirit of the Laws

Nozick Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Plato Gorgias

Rousseau First and Second Discourses

Tocqueville Democracy in America

Weber Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Xenophon The Education of Cyrus

Hannah Arendt The Origins of Totalitarianism

Mathematics & Natural Science

Lucretius On the Nature of Things

Plato Timaeus

Aristotle Physics

Euclid Elements

Ptolemy Almagest

Galileo Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Descartes Discourse on Method

Bacon The New Organon

Newton Principia

Darwin The Origin of Species

Lobachevski The Theory of Parallels

Freud Selected case studies

Jung “The 1912 Lectures on the Theory of Psychoanalysis”

Apollonius, Pascal Conic Sections

Aristotle Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology

Bacon, Swift The Project of Modern Science

Darwin The Origin of Species

Darwin The Voyage of the Beagle

Einstein Relativity: the Special and General Theory

Euclid Book V of the Elements

Galileo Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Goethe Theory of Color

Hilbert Foundations of Geometry

Lorenz Studies in Animal and Human Behavior

Ramachandran Readings in Cognitive Neuroscience

Thompson On Growth and Form

Shelley Frankenstein

Literature

Homer lliad

Homer Odyssey

Aeschylus Agamemnon

Aeschylus Libation Bearers

Aeschylus Eumenides

Sophocles Oedipus Rex

Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus

Sophocles Antigone

Euripides Hippolytus

Euripides Bacchae

Aristophanes Frogs

Aristotle Poetics

Chaucer Canterbury Tales

Shakespeare King Lear

Selected English poetry and short fiction

Black American Writers

Cervantes Don Quixote

Dante The Divine Comedy

Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov, Demons

Eliot Middlemarch

Ellison Invisible Man

Flaubert Madame Bovary

Halldór Laxness Independent People

Icelandic Sagas

Jorge Luis Borges Ficciones

Joyce Ulysses

Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude

Melville Moby Dick

Milton Paradise Lost

Montaigne Essays

O’Connor Wise Blood and selected short stories

Proust Remembrance of Things Past

Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel

Racine Phèdre, Brittanicus, and Athalie

Rousseau Emile

Rousseau, Julie, or the New Heloise Letters of Two Lovers who live in a Small Town at the Foot of the Alps

Shakespeare King Lear and A Winter’s Tale

Tolstoy Anna Karenina, War and Peace

Virgil The Aeneid; Georgics

Woolf To the Lighthouse and Jacob’s Room

William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury and Go Down, Moses

History

I-II Samuel

Herodotus Histories

Thucydides Peloponnesian War

Polybius Histories

Tacitus Annals

Augustine City of God

Livy History of Rome

Gibbon Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Vico The New Science

Kant Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View

Kant The Contest of Faculties

Marx The German Ideology

Nietzsche The Use and Abuse of History

Husserl The Vienna Lecture: “Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity”

Heidegger The Age of the World Picture

Adams History of the United States during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson

Burke Reflections on the Revolution in France

Carlyle The French Revolution: A History

Gibbon The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Hegel Philosophy of History

Herodotus Histories

Husserl The Crisis of European Sciences

Thucydides The Peloponnesian War

Tocqueville The Old Regime and the French Revolution

Planned Segment Offerings

Fall Semester

Annapolis

  • Literature
  • Mathematics and Natural Science

Santa Fe

  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Politics and Society
  • Mathematics and Natural Science (only offered during even-numbered years)
  • History (only offered during odd-numbered years)

Spring Semester

Annapolis

  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Politics and Society
  • History (only offered during even-numbered years)

Santa Fe

  • Literature
  • History (only offered during odd-numbered years)
  • Mathematics and Natural Science (only offered during even-numbered years)

Summer Semester

Annapolis

  • Philosophy and Theology (only offered during odd-numbered years)
  • Literature (only offered during odd-numbered years)
  • History (only offered during odd-numbered years)
  • Mathematics and Natural Science (only offered during even-numbered years)
  • Politics and Society (only offered during even-numbered years)

Santa Fe

  • Mathematics and Natural Science
  • Literature
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Politics and Society
  • History (only offered during even-numbered years)