iliadThe Great Books List includes 180 books dating from 2000 B.C. to A.D. 1987.  Over 160 colleges and universities offer courses in the Great Books program including the University of Notre Dame, Yale University, and the University of South Carolina.  These universities use the program as part of their humanities, literature, and education courses.  The goal of the Great Books program is that by reading books students are encouraged to analyze the writers, philosophies, and theories in order to gain a true aspect of the world, both past and present.  Varying viewpoints offer a sounding-board for fresh ideas and perspectives on modern life.  In my opinion, the average college student has been in contact with less than a quarter of the Great Books.

After scanning the list, I discovered that I have read 38 of the Great Books.  Almost all of the books I read were from the pre-Modern era, and I read them because of my history and political science courses.  I do not believe that entire programs should be offered in the Great Books.  Rather, students should be exposed to the great books through their regular course work so they can gain perspective on history itself.  I plan on having my history students read famous works from each historical period as supplements to our course content.

– Hannah S. Bowers