Skip to Main Content

Reading List

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 all students reading 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, math, chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, music, language, and more.

Reading Lists by Year

Homer Iliad, Odyssey

Aeschylus Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides, Prometheus Bound

Sophocles Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Philoctetes, Ajax

Thucydides Peloponnesian War

Euripides Hippolytus, Bacchae

Herodotus Histories

Aristophanes Clouds

Plato Meno, Gorgias, Republic, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Symposium, Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, Timaeus, Phaedrus

Aristotle Poetics, Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, On Generation and Corruption, Politics, Parts of Animals, Generation of Animals

Euclid Elements

Lucretius On the Nature of Things

Plutarch “Lycurgus,” “Solon”

Ptolemy Almagest

Pascal Treatise on the Equilibrium of Liquids

Nicomachus Arithmetic

Lavoisier Elements of Chemistry

Harvey Motion of the Heart and Blood

Essays by Archimedes, Fahrenheit, Avogadro, Dalton, Cannizzaro, Virchow, Mariotte, Driesch, Gay-Lussac, Spemann, Stears, J.J. Thomson, Mendeleyev, Berthollet, J.L. Proust

Hebrew Bible

New Testament

Aristotle De Anima, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Categories

Apollonius Conics

Virgil Aeneid

Plutarch “Caesar,” “Cato the Younger,” “Antony,” “Brutus”

Epictetus Discourses, Manual

Tacitus Annals

Ptolemy Almagest

Plotinus The Enneads

Augustine Confessions

Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed

Anselm Proslogium

Aquinas Summa Theologiae

Dante Divine Comedy

Chaucer Canterbury Tales

Machiavelli The Prince, Discourses

Copernicus On the Revolutions of the Spheres

Kepler Epitome IV

Livy Early History of Rome

Palestrina Missa Papae Marcelli

Montaigne Essays

Viète Introduction to the Analytical Art

Bacon Novum Organum

Shakespeare Richard II, Henry IV, The Tempest, As You Like It, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, and Sonnets

Poems by Marvell, Donne, and other 16th- and 17th-century poets

Descartes Geometry, Discourse on Method

Pascal Generation of Conic Sections

Bach St. Matthew Passion, Inventions

Haydn Quartets

Mozart Operas

Beethoven Third Symphony

Schubert Songs

Monteverdi L’Orfeo

Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms

Cervantes Don Quixote

Galileo Two New Sciences

Hobbes Leviathan

Descartes Meditations, Rules for the Direction of the Mind

Milton Paradise Lost

La Rochefoucauld Maximes

La Fontaine Fables

Pascal Pensées

Huygens Treatise on Light, On the Movement of Bodies by Impact

Eliot Middlemarch

Spinoza Theologico-Political Treatise

Locke Second Treatise of Government

Racine Phèdre

Newton Principia Mathematica

Leibniz Monadology, Discourse on Metaphysics, Essay on Dynamics, Philosophical Essays, Principles of Nature and Grace

Swift Gulliver’s Travels

Hume Treatise of Human Nature

Rousseau Social Contract, The Origin of Inequality

Molière Le Misanthrope

Adam Smith Wealth of Nations

Kant Critique of Pure Reason, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

Mozart Don Giovanni

Austen Pride and Prejudice, Emma

Hawthorne The Scarlett Letter

Dedekind Essays on the Theory of Numbers Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States of America

Hamilton, Jay, and Madison The Federalist Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Wordsworth The Two-Part Prelude of 1799

Essays by Young, Taylor, Euler, D. Bernoulli, Ørsted, Ampère, Faraday, Maxwell

Supreme Court Opinions

Goethe Faust

Darwin Origin of Species

Hegel Phenomenology of Mind, “Logic” (from the Encyclopedia)

Lobachevsky Theory of Parallels

Kafka The Metamorphosis

Plato Phaedrus

Tocqueville Democracy in America

Documents from American History Hamilton, Jay, and Madison The Federalist

Lincoln Selected speeches

F. Douglass Selected speeches

Kierkegaard Philosophical Fragments, Fear and Trembling

Wagner Tristan and Isolde

Marx Capital, Political and Economic Manuscripts of 1844, The German Ideology

Dostoevsky Brothers Karamazov

Tolstoy War and Peace

Melville Benito Cereno

O’Connor Selected stories

William James Psychology, Briefer Course

Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil

Freud Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis

Baudelaire Les Fleurs du Mal

Booker T. Washington Selected writings

Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk

Husserl Crisis of the European Sciences

Heidegger Basic Writings

Einstein Selected papers

Conrad Heart of Darkness

Faulkner Go Down Moses

Flaubert Un Coeur Simple

Woolf Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse

Poems by Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Valéry, Rimbaud

Essays by Faraday, J. J. Thomson, Millikan, Minkowski, Rutherford, Davisson, Schrödinger, Bohr, de Broglie, Heisenberg, Mendel, Boveri, Sutton, Morgan, Beadle & Tatum, Sussman, Watson & Crick, Jacob & Monod, Hardy

The information presented is for illustration purposes only and may not reflect 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.
View the entire St. John’s Reading List as a PDF

Seminar Readings for current students

Current students may find Seminar Readings for the 2017-18 academic year:

Annapolis Seminar Readings Santa Fe Seminar Readings

 

Preceptorials

For seven weeks in junior and senior years, seminar is suspended so that students may choose elective classes called preceptorials.