[SJC] St. John’s College reading list

St. John’s College reading list [SJC]

Originally developed in 1937

St. John’s College in Annapolis is an anomaly. It offers only one degree and has a set curriculum for all four years. You read the classics. In chronological order. Nonstop. This list is St. John’s curriculum, which was based on the core curriculum of other colleges like Columbia and the University of Chicago. Most of the works that didn’t make the master list were philosophical tracts and, interestingly, the work of famous composers like Mozart and Bach. Consider it a crash course in the Greatest Books of the Western World [GB], which it largely echoes.

To see the full list from St. John’s College, click here or read below. Works marked in RED appeared on at least one other of the twenty-four “Great Works” lists I’ve compiled, and so made the Master List.


  • 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
  • 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
  • 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. Thompson, Mendeleyev, Berthollet, J.L. Proust


  • THE BIBLE: New Testament
  • ARISTOTLE: De AnimaOn InterpretationPrior AnalyticsCategories
  • 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
  • ST. ANSELM: Proslogium
  • AQUINAS: Summa Theologica
  • DANTE: Divine Comedy
  • CHAUCER: Canterbury Tales
  • MACHIAVELLI: The Prince, Discourses
  • KEPLER: Epitome IV
  • RABELAIS: Gargantua and Pantagruel
  • PALESTRINA: Missa Papae Marcelli
  • MONTAIGNE: Essays
  • VIETE: 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
  • DESCARTESGeometry, Discourse on Method
  • PASCAL: Generation of Conic Sections
  • BACH: St. Matthew PassionInventions
  • HAYDN: Quartets
  • MOZART: Operas
  • BEETHOVEN: Third Symphony
  • SCHUBERT: Songs
  • 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 FONTAINE: Fables
  • PASCAL: Pensees
  • HUYGENS: Treatise on Light, On the Movement of Bodies by Impact
  • ELIOT: Middlemarch
  • SPINOZA: Theological-Political Treatise
  • LOCKE: Second Treatise of Government
  • RACINE: Phaedre
  • NEWTON: Principia Mathematica
  • KEPLER: Epitome IV
  • 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
  • MOLIERE: Le Misanthrope
  • ADAM SMITH: Wealth of Nations
  • KANT: Critique of Pure Reason, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals
  • MOZART: Don Giovanni
  • JANE AUSTEN: Pride and Prejudice
  • DEDEKIND: “Essay on the Theory of Numbers”
  • “Articles of Confederation,” “Declaration of Independence,” “Constitution of the United States of America”
  • TWAIN: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • WORDSWORTH: The Two Part Prelude of 1799
  • Essays by:  Young, Taylor, Euler, D. Bernoulli, Orsted, Ampere, Faraday, Maxwell


  • Supreme Court opinions
  • GOETHE: Faust
  • DARWIN: Origin of Species
  • HEGEL: Phenomenology of Mind, “Logic” (from the Encyclopedia)
  • LOBACHEVSKY: Theory of Parallels
  • TOCQUEVILLE: Democracy in America
  • LINCOLN: Selected Speeches
  • FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Selected Speeches
  • KIERKEGAARDPhilosophical Fragments, Fear and Trembling
  • WAGNER: Tristan and Isolde
  • MARX: Capital, Political and Economic Manuscripts of 1844, The German Ideology
  • DOSTOEVSKI: 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
  • BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: Selected Writings
  • DUBOIS: 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
  • Poems by: Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Valery, Rimbaud
  • Essays by: Faraday, J.J. Thomson, Millikan, Minkowski, Rutherford, Davisson, Schrodinger, Bohr, Maxwell, de Broglie, Heisenberg, Mendel, Boveri, Sutton, Morgan, Beadle & Tatum, Sussman, Watson & Crick, Jacob & Monod, Hardy

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