Literature

Literature extends the range of human experience, allowing us to apprehend the lives of others with greater empathy and encounter the world with deeper understanding. Students embark on epic journeys with Dante and Virgil, Sancho and Don Quixote, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, each pair of travelers challenging readers to fundamentally rethink and reevaluate their own experience of the world. Readings range from novels such as War and Peace and Mrs. Dalloway to the close analysis of tragedies by Sophocles and Shakespeare, and lyric by poets such as Donne and Dickinson.

NOTE

Literature is one of the many subjects studied in the college’s interdisciplinary great books curriculum. There are no majors at St. John’s. Instead, students explore all these subjects over the course of all four years. Learn more about St. John’s classes.

Reading List

Aeschylus Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides, Prometheus Bound

Aristophanes Clouds

Euripides Hippolytus, Bacchae

Homer Iliad, Odyssey

Sappho Poems 1 and 31

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

Virginia Woolf On Not Knowing Greek

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice, Emma

Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote

Jean de la Fontaine Fables

François de La Rochefoucauld Maximes

Madame de Lafayette Princess of Clèves

George Eliot Middlemarch

Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter

John Milton Paradise Lost

Molière Le Misanthrope

Jean Racine Phèdre

Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels

Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Dante Alighieri Divine Comedy

Alphra Behn “The Disappointment”

Anne Bradsheet Poems

Geoffrey Chaucer Canterbury Tales

Michel de Montaigne Essays

John Donne Poems

Anne Locke Poems

Andrew Marvell Poems

Sappho Poems

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

Virgil Aeneid

Lady Mary Wroth “A Crown of Sonnets Dedicated to Love”

James Baldwin Stranger in the Village, The Fire Next Time

Charles Baudelaire Les Fleurs du Mal

Elizabeth Bishop Poems

Gwendolyn Brooks “Children of the Poor”

Emily Dickinson Poems

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Brothers Karamazov

T. S. Eliot Poems

William Faulkner Go Down Moses

Gustave Flaubert Un Coeur Simple

Herman Melville Benito Cereno

Toni Morrison Song of Solomon

Flannery O’Connor Good Country People, Resurrection, The Displaced Person

Sylvia Plath Poems

Plato Phaedrus

Arthur Rimbaud Poems

Wallace Stevens Poems

Leo Tolstoy War and Peace

Paul Valéry Poems

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust

Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own

William Butler Yeats Poems

Madame de Sévigné Letters

Fyodor Dostoyevsky The Devils

Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary

Gabriel García Márquez One Hundred Years of Solitude

James Joyce The Portrait of a Lady

Halldór Laxness Independent People

Jorge Luis Borges Ficciones

Herman Melville Moby Dick

Toni Morrison Beloved

Flannery O’Connor Wise Blood

Marcel Proust Remembrance of Things Past

William Shakespeare Measure for Measure

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.

Senior Essay

Decoding the Language of Laughter – An Analysis of Comedy through Cervantes’ Don Quixote

Senior Essay

We Are In The Soup Together - Albert Camus’ House of Mirrors

Senior Essay

Taking on the Dimension of Immortality – In Pursuit of a Lasting Beauty in Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal

Senior Essay

Elizabeth Laughs: Unexpected Union in Pride and Prejudice

Senior Essay

Myopia and Justice in Aeschylus’ Oresteia

Senior Essay

What is a Karamazov soul? Exploration of the Karamazovian nature through suffering and redemption in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

Senior Essay

On Letting Others Down: Embodiment and Responsibility across Inferno 1, Purgatorio 17/18, and Paradiso 33

Senior Essay

Self Revelation in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

Senior Essay

Locked Out of the Ivory Tower: An Exploration of Interruption in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

Senior Essay

Criticize the Critic: How Molière Satirizes Self-Superiority in The Misanthrope

Senior Essay

A Barrel Full of Ingredients: Understanding the Episodic Life of Huckleberry Finn

Senior Essay

The Man of Stone: How to Live According to Tolstoy

Senior Essay

The Hollow Silence of Modernity: In Search of Transcendence in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain

Senior Essay

Why is Gulliver So Restless?

Senior Essay

Sacrifice and Love in Othello and Much Ado About Nothing

Senior Essay

Boundless the Deep – Why Evil is Possible, and Permitted, in Perfect Beings – John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Senior Essay

Fade-In – The Cinematography of Marcel Proust in Swann’s Way

Senior Essay

Cheating Fancy: The Role of Imagination in Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale

Senior Essay

The Legacy of the Barricade – Finding Light in the Darkness in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables

Senior Essay

Through the Eyes of Others: Shame and its Predicates in Homer’s Iliad

Senior Essay

The Search for Love Amidst Mortality in William Wordsworth’s “Ode (‘There was a time’)”

Senior Essay

Too Good a Man: The Terror and Timidity of Starbuck in Melville’s Moby Dick

Senior Essay

A Stew of Truths and Mirages: Cycles of Time, Solitude, and Learning in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude

Great Works by Women Writers

Student Group

Students meet regularly to discuss great books written by women. Some of the past works read were Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Teresa of Avila’s “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa” and Virginia Woolf’s Essays.

Senior Essay

Tightrope Walking the Dual Abyss: Vulgarity and Lyricism, Sex and Romance, as Expressed by Woman in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

Senior Essay

The American Veil: An Exploration of American Identity and Double-consciousness in James Baldwin’s essays and W.E.B. Dubois’s The Souls of Black Folk

Pear Press

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

Suffering and Gotama the Buddha: A Case Study of Enlightenment and the Elements of Its Attainment from the Bodhirajakumara Sutta

Renmin University of China, Department of Language & Literature

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Hemingway Letters Project at Pennsylvania State University

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

The Grout

Student Group

The Grout is a student-run publication showcasing literary pieces, visual art and musical compositions. 

New York University Press, Sales and Marketing Department

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

Understanding Through Perception: An Exploration of How Literature Shapes Readers’ Perception of Truth in Both Fiction and Reality in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

Princeton University Press

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

David R. Godine, Inc.

Internships

The Hodson and Ariel Internship Programs support Johnnies who want to pursue internships that would otherwise be unpaid.

Senior Essay

The Apocalypse of the Hollow Man—An investigation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Senior Essay

The Struggle Doesn’t Have to be Real: The Role of the Body in the Writings of Chuang Tzu

Storytellers Guild

Student Group

Senior Essay

To Change the Lights: Modern Sainthood in George Eliot’s Middlemarch