The List

The English Department invites you to complete the list. What is the list? It is easier to say what it is not than what it is. It is not a list of books that represents the canon. It is not even a list of all our favorite books or all the great works we hope you will someday read. Rather, it is the list of books that emerged when we asked this question of ourselves: what books do we think are essential; what books do we think no one—and in particular, no English major—should leave college without having read? We gave ourselves this limitation: we could each only offer up four books for the list and at least three of those had to come from our area of specialization. So, the list is idiosyncratic in the best sense of the word: all tenure-track, tenured, and visiting professors in the department are required to identify four books we think it most essential for our English majors to read while in college. The books that emerge from these individual choices become “The List.”

We hope you will take the challenge to read these books along with us. If you read 50 of the books from this list while at Wittenberg, you get to make a difficult choice yourself: you get to choose a work of literature to add to the list. For those of you who complete 35 works from the list, we will buy you a copy of your favorite work from the list, inscribe it, and then invite you at the end of the year to join us at a literary salon where we discuss these wonderful works.*

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • Sign up in the English Department office (Hollenbeck 102) if you want to take the challenge. You have your college years to complete the list. If you want to print an alphabetized List to check off as you go,, or if you want one divided by professor as below, — you can also pick either one up in the office when you sign up for the challenge.
  • When you finish reading a work of literature from the list, pick up a slip from the English Department office to fill out with your name and the title of the book.
  • Take that slip with you and talk with the professor who recommended the book (or with one of the alternate professors if any are listed for that title) about what you found most interesting about the work, and get his/her signature on your completion slip. Return the slip to the English Department office.
  • When you complete 35 works, there is cause for celebration: a gift of a book and the promised party are forthcoming. If you complete 50, you have earned the right to name your own essential book and alumni will be contacting you in the future and letting you know what they found interesting about your selection.
  • To find the book in the Thomas Library or through OhioLink click the book title. To find the book on Amazon.com, click the icon to the left of the title.

*The List will vary over time as individual professors retire and new tenure-track and visiting professors arrive. So, if you sign up to read 50 books from the list, you can read any 50 books from the various evolving lists that have been created during your time at Wittenberg, so long as you are able to meet with a listed professor to receive credit.

To see the current 2015-2016 list, click here.

To see the past 2013-2014 list, click here.