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 five 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 five books we think are 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. If you complete 20 books, you will receive an English Department mug.*
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 20 works, you receive an English Department mug! When you complete 35 works, there is further 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.
The List (2018-present)
Note: While you should try to meet with the professor who chose the book for The List, most titles have alternate professors (listed parenthetically after the author) with whom you may also meet to discuss and earn credit for completing the work.
Dr. Kimberly Anderson
Circe, Madeline Miller (Fallon)
Kindred, Octavia Butler (Askeland, Battle, Davis, Polak)
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (Mattison)
The Lais of Marie de France (Richards)
Dr. Lori Askeland
A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf (Fallon, Inboden, Incorvati, Mattison, Richards)
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Ann Jacobs (Battle, Davis, Mattison, Richards)
Dr. Sha'Dawn Battle
Blues for Mister Charlie, James Baldwin (Askeland)
Praisesong for the Widow, Paule Marshall (Askeland)
A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry (Askeland)
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas (Mattison)
Dr. Robert Davis
Walden, Henry David Thoreau (Askeland, Mattison)
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman (Askeland, Hinson)
Selected Poems, Emily Dickinson (Askeland)
Tenth of December: Stories, George Saunders (Mattison)
Professor D'Arcy Fallon
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion (Incorvati, Mattison, McClelland)
The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (Davis, Mattison, McClelland, Polak, Richards)
The Undertaking, Thomas Lynch (Mattison)
Dr. Scot Hinson
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (Askeland, Davis, Incorvati)
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (Askeland, Davis, Polak)
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (Askeland, Fallon, Mattison, Polak)
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood (Askeland)
Ulysses, James Joyce (Davis, Mattison)
Dr. Robin Inboden
Middlemarch, George Eliot (Askeland, Richards)
Dr. Rick Incorvati
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (Fallon, Inboden, Polak, Richards)
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (Hinson, Inboden, McClelland, Richards)
"Lamia," "Isabella," "The Eve of St. Agnes," and other Poems, John Keats (Inboden, Richards)
The Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake (Inboden, Polak)
Angels in America, Tony Kushner (Askeland, Davis, Richards)
Dr. Michael Mattison
Dr. Michael McClelland
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville (Askeland, Davis, Hinson, Mattison)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (Askeland, Davis, Fallon)
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison (Askeland, Battle, Davis, Incorvati, Polak)
White Noise, Don DeLillo (Askeland, Davis, Hinson, Polak)
Dr. Katharine Polak
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (Askeland, Fallon, Mattison)
Deogratias, Jean-Philippe Stassen (Askeland)
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Askeland, Battle)
Dr. Cynthia Richards
Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne (Askeland)
The Letters of John Keats (Inboden, Incorvati)
Oroonoko, Aphra Behn (Inboden, Incorvati)
Flatland, Edwin A. Abbott [Mr. Hildebrandt is the first student to complete The List, reading 75 books, May 2012] (Mattison)