General Information Schedule and Reading List Past Readings UWM Great Books Program Special Collections Home

Lists of Past Readings

By author's last name

By author nationality or gender

By era written
By format
Non-fiction, by subject



Edwin A. Abbott

Chinua Achebe
Dead Men's Path
Marriage is a Private Affair

Louisa May Alcott
Transcendental Wild Oats

Dante Alighieri
Inferno, Cantos 1-5

Sherwood Anderson
The Egg


Matthew Arnold
The Buried Life
Dover Beach

John Ashbery
The Fear of Death
The Problem of Anxiety

W.H. Auden
The Fall of Rome
In Praise of Limestone

Jane Austen
Lady Susan

Marcus Aurelius
The Meditations, Books One-Three

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Francis Bacon
First Ten "Essays"

James Baldwin
Sonny's Blues

Karl Barth
Is Man Immortal?

Walter Benjamin
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"

George Berkeley
A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Sections 1-33

The Bible
The Epistle of James
The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians
Exodus (Selections)
Genesis 1-11, Creation to the Descendants of Shem
Genesis 11.26-35.29,The Abraham--Isaac--Jacob Cycles
Genesis 37-50,The Joseph Cycle
Judges, chapters 2-15
"The Last Days of Jesus" as described in the four canonical gospels
and the so-called Gospel of Peter
Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7
Song of Songs

William Blake
Songs of Experience

Heinrich Böll
Christmas Every Day

Niels Bohr
"Atoms and Human Knowledge," address to the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences

Jorge Luis Borges
The Circular Ruins
The Garden of Forking Paths
Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote
The Library of Babel
The Lottery in Babylon
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

Gwendolyn Brooks
First Fight, Then Fiddle
Negro Hero

Robert Burns
Comin Thro The Rye
Green Grow The Rashes, O
"Is There for Honest Poverty,"( A Man's a Man for a' That)
To a Mouse
A Red, Red Rose

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Pedro Calderon de la Barca
Life is a Dream

Marina Carr
By the Bog of Cats (a 1998 retelling of Euripides's Medea)

Willa Cather
Paul's Case
A Wagner Matinee

Miguel de Cervantes
The Tale of the Ill-Advised Curiosity, Chapters 33-35 from Don Quixote

Geoffrey Chaucer
The Pardoner's Tale
The Wife of Bath's Tale

John Cheever
"The Enormous Radio"
"The Five-Forty-Eight"
"The Swimmer"

Anton Chekov
Three Sisters

Kate Chopin
At the 'Cadian Ball
The Storm
The Story of an Hour

Joseph Conrad
The Heart of Darkness

Nicholas Copernicus
First nine chapters of On the Revolutions

Noel Coward
Hay Fever

Hart Crane
To Brooklyn Bridge

Stephen Crane
I Explain the Silvered Passing of a Ship at Night
In the Desert

e. e. cummings
the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
O sweet spontaneous

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Charles Darwin
Selections from The Origin of Species
An Historical Sketch
Chapter VI:  Difficulties of the Theory
Chapter VII:  Miscellaneous Objections
to the Theory of Natural Selection
Summary from Chapter XI
Chapter XV:  Recapitulation and Conclusion

The Declaration of Independence

Rene Descartes
Meditation 2

The Dhammapada
(Sayings of the Buddha)

Charles Dickens
The Lawyer and the Ghost
The Signal-Man
A Trial for Murder

Everett M. Dirksen
Congressional speech to end the Senate filibuster on the Civil Rights bill, June 10, 1964

John Donne
The Canonization
Death Be Not Proud (Holy Sonnet X)
The Flea

Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Life and Sayings of the Elder Zosima

Frederick Douglass
May 11, 1857 Speech on the Dred Scott Decision

W. E. B. Du Bois
Selected Chapters from The Souls of Black Folk

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Albert Einstein
Foreword to Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Albert Einstein, Boris Poldosky, and Nathan Rosen
EPR Paradox: "Can quantum-mechanical description of physical reality be considered complete?"

T. S. Eliot
Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Ralph Ellison
Flying Home
In a Strange Country

Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Lord's Supper
The Over-Soul
The Transcendentalist



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James Faulkner
Barn Burning
A Rose for Emily

Edna Ferber
The Maternal Feminine
The Woman Who Tried to be Good

E. M. Forster
The Machine Stops

Sigmund Freud
The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis

Robert Frost
Desert Places
Mending Wall
The Road Not Taken

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Zona Gale
The Cobweb

Galileo Galilei
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Federico Garcia Lorca
Blood Wedding

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Yellow Wallpaper

Allen Ginsberg

Susan Glaspell
A Jury of Her Peers

Nadine Gordimer
The Defeated

Graham Greene
The Destructors

Stephen Adly Guirgis
The Last Days of Judas

A. R Gurney
What I Did Last Summer

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Hafez (Hafiz)
My sweet, crushed angel
If it is not too dark
Saints bowing in the mountains
And Applaud
I know the way you can get

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Ethan Brand
The Great Stone Face
Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure
Rappacini's Daughter
Young Goodman Brown

Werner Heisenberg
Remarks on the Origin of the Relations of Uncertainty

Lillian Hellman
Little Foxes

Heloise and Abelard
Letters 1-7

Ernest Hemingway
A Clean, Well-lighted Place

"Tales from Herodotus" including Solon and Croesus, The Rise of Cyrus,
and Rhampsinitis and the Thief

Gerald Manley Hopkins
The Candle Indoors
The Sea and the Skylark

Langston Hughes
Cora Unashamed
Little Dog
Red-Headed Baby
Slave on the Block

David Hume
On the Immortality of the Soul

Zora Neale Hurston

Henrik Ibsen
Peer Gynt

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Shirley Jackson
The Lottery

Henry James
The Tree of Knowledge

James Joyce
After the Race
The Dead
Ivy Day in the Committee Room

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Franz Kafka
The Burrow
A Hunger Artist

John F. Kennedy
Report to the People on Civil Rights, June 11, 1963

Shimaki Kensaku
Black Cat
Red Frog

Martin Luther King Jr.
"I Have a Dream" speech, August 28, 1963

John Koethe
(Milwaukee Port Laureate, 2000-2002)
In Italy
Theories of Prayer

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D. H. Lawrence
Odour of Chrysanthemums

Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching

Robert Lowell
For the Union Dead
Skunk Hour

Book I of De Rerum Natura

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Hugh MacDiarmid
The Little White Rose
Facing the Chair
Stony Limits
The Eemis Stane

Archibald MacLeish
You, Andrew Marvell
The End of the World

Nicolo Machiavelli
Selections from The Prince

Thomas Mann
Disorder and Early Sorrow

Katherine Mansfield
This Flower
The Child-Who-Was-Tired
Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding

Gabriel García Márquez
Eyes of a Blue Dog
Eva is Inside Her Cat
One of These Days

Guy de Maupassant
The Devil
Diary of a Madman
The Necklace

Herman Melville
Bartleby the Scrivener
The Happy Failure

John Stuart Mill
Chapter 1: "General Remarks"
Chapter 2: "What Utilitarianism Is"

John Milton
Paradise Lost: Book I

Gabriela Mistral
What You Loved
The Sad Mother

Lovers' Quarrels
(translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur, 2005)
The Misanthrope

Michel de Montaigne
On Cannibals
On Presumption

Marianne Moore
To a Steam Roller
What are Years?

Pablo Neruda
The Word and Past

Lynn Nottage

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Flannery O'Connor
The Artificial Nigger
Everything That Rises Must Converge
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
The Life You Save May Be Your Own
The River

One Thousand and One Nights
12 short tales

José Ortega y Gasset
Selection from Revolt of the Masses

George Orwell
Politics and the English Language
Shooting an Elephant

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Dorothy Parker
Big Blond
Here We Are

Octavio Paz
Between Going And Coming

Luigi Pirandello
Six Characters in Search of an Author

Sylvia Plath
Morning Song

The Apology
The Death of Socrates
Hippias Major

Pliny the Younger
Book 3, Letter 14
To his friend Acilius on a murdered magistrate
Book 3, Letter 16
To his friend Nepos on a woman's heroism
Book 4, Letter 11
To his friend Cornelius Minicianus on the death of a Vestal
Book 5, Letter 16
To his friend Aefulanus Marcellinus on a father's grief
Book 6, Letters 16 and 20
Letters on Vesuvius to his friend Tacitus
Book 9, Letter 33
To his friend Caninius on a boy and his dolphin

Edgar Allen Poe
Imp of the Perverse
Cask of the Amontillado
A Descent into the Maelstrom
The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Ezra Pound
Canto I
The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter

Marcel Proust
"Combray I / Overture" Part one of Swann's Way

Aleksandr Pushkin
The Blizzard (aka The Snowstorm)
Queen of Spades

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Sura 4, The Women
Sura 6, The Cattle

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Selections of the The Ramayana

Ayn Rand
The Objectivist Ethics

Rainer Maria Rilke
Duino Elegies

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind

Jalaluddin Rumi
Advice is never useful to lovers
Rise up from me-ness and mix with all
Be drunk in love since love is all that exists
Kisses but no lips were visable

Bertrand Russell
Why I Am Not A Christian

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Edna St. Vincent Millay
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied (Sonnet II)
If I should learn, in some quite casual way (Sonnet V)

J.D. Salinger
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish"
"Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut"
"Down at the Dinghy"

Jean-Paul Sartre
The Wall

Shen Fu
Selections from Six Records of a Floating Life:
The Joys of the Wedding Chamber
The Sorrows of Misfortune
The Pleaures of Leisure
The Delights of Roaming Afar

Erwin Schrödinger
Schrödinger's Cat, Sections 5 and 6 from The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics from the original 1935 paper in Die Naturwissenschaften.

William Shakespeare
As You Like It
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
King Lear
The Merchant of Venice
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest

George Bernard Shaw
Arms and the Man

Oedipus Rex, translation by David Mulroy (2011)
Trachiniae, or The Woman of Trachis

Wole Soyinka
The Swamp Dwellers

Shelby Steele
The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America, chapts.1, 2, and 7

Laurence Sterne
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Book 1

Wallace Stevens
The Idea of Order at Key West
The Snow Man
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Jonathan Swift
A Modest Proposal
A Treatise on Good Manners and Good Breeding

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Marilyn Taylor
(Milwaukee Poet Laureate, 2004-2006)
The Blue Water Buffalo
Notes from the Good-Girl Chronicles
To Lucy, Who Came First

Alfred Tennyson
The Lotus-Eaters

Dylan Thomas
Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

Henry David Thoreau
A Winter Walk

The Peloponnesian War, Book 2:
Pericles' Funeral Oration and the Plague at Athens

Leo Tolstoy
Death of Ivan Ilych

Mark Twain
Diary of Adam and Eve

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Miguel de Unamuno
Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr

John Updike
A & P

The United States Constitution

The United States Supreme Court
Roe versus Wade (Opinions of Justices Blackmun and Renquist)
The Dred Scott Decision

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Aeneid, Book 6

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Water Margin:
chapters 1-7

John Walch
The Nature of Mutation

George C. Wallace
4th of July speech (1964) against Civil Rights legislation

H.G. Wells
The Star

Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome

Oscar Wilde
The Decay of Lying

Thornton Wilder
Our Town

William Carlos Williams
To Elsie
This Is Just to Say
The Red Wheelbarrow

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Selections from Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations

Virginia Woolf
The Mark on the Wall
An Unwritten Novel

William Wordsworth
Ode: Intimations of Immortality

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William Butler Yeats
Among School Children
Sailing to Byzantium
The Second Coming
When You Are Old

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Karen Zacarias
The Sins of Sor Juana

Emile Zola
The Attack on the Mill

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Who is this? And, who is this? Special Collections at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Great Books Roundtable Discussion