APU Careers & Learning

Your Syllabus is Nothing Compared to This

Every student will experience that sinking feeling while reading a syllabus that appears too overwhelming. Whether it requires loads of reading, writing, or both, the feeling is dreadful at the beginning of a new course. Yet, no student today could possibly imagine the dread of the students taking W. H. Auden’s Fate and the Individual in European Literature at the University of Michigan during the 1941-42 school year.

The total required reading numbered roughly 6,000 pages, which included the following books:

  • The Divine Comedy by Dante
  • The Agamemnon by Aeschylus
  • The Antigone by Sophocles
  • The Odes by Horace
  • Confessions by Augustine
  • Henry IV, Part 2 by Shakespeare
  • Othello by Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by Shakespeare
  • The Tempest by Shakespeare
  • Volpone by Ben Jonson
  • Pascal by Pensées
  • Racine by Phèdre
  • Marriage of Heaven and Hell by Blake
  • Faust, Part I by Goethe
  • Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard
  • Journals by Charles Baudelaire
  • Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Une Saison en Enfer by Arthur Rimbaud
  • Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Journal of My Other Self by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • The Castle by Franz Kafka
  • Family Reunion by T. S. Eliot

If that was not enough for the student, then Auden still offered another eight books as “recommended critical reading.”

Few people read all these works in a single lifetime, let alone in a single semester. Next time you think a syllabus looks a little intimidating, pull up Auden’s syllabus and take a deep breath.

By Scott Manning
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor

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