CUNY / Queensborough Community College Great Books for Composition Courses

An Open Education Resource

Great Books for Composition Courses presents canonical, timeless texts intended for use in first-year writing programs. Funded by a grant through Open Education Resources, this anthology is committed to zero cost textbook courses. This Great Books OER includes: the poetry of Sappho with emphasis on various translations; Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft; The Souls of Black Folks, by W.E.B. Du Bois; and Walden and On Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. This anthology is intended to challenge first-year college students with its vocabulary, references, expressions, and, most significantly, sheer scope of ideas.

Contributors: Susan Lago, Ilse Schrynemakers, and Alison Cimino

Project Hero Cover

scott1346, "tree of life painting," flikr, December 13, 2012, https://www.flickr.com/photos/42549779@N06/8394663509. Accessed October 7, 2020.

Marked with a CC BY 2.0 license.

Mission Statement

This Great Books anthology creates a solid foundation for first-year writers to think critically about the long, ongoing struggle for human and civil rights. By diving deeply into how “long dead” writers have articulated their stances, college students may sharpen analytical, writing, and reading skills whilst contemplating root positions on racism, feminism, environmentalism, and the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Classical texts are often paired with contemporary ones in order to facilitate comparisons with the questions about humanity that resonate today. Moreover, the curriculum takes into consideration critical pedagogies advanced by Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Asao Inoue. Housed in the Manifold platform, this Great Books for Composition Courses OER enables classrooms to become learning communities devoted to sharing and exchanging ideas freely and openly.

Student Foreword

As you look through this collection of classic texts, please know this: Each of these works have all been perused, skimmed, debated, and written about by many a college student before you—some longer than a century ago.

As you will soon experience, these texts may challenge you to work through word choices, wonder about the meaning of references, and decipher images. These challenges serve the larger purpose of creating a solid foundation for thinking critically about the long, ongoing struggle for human and civil rights. By diving deeply into how “long dead” writers have articulated their stances, you may sharpen analytical, writing, and reading skills whilst contemplating root positions on racism, feminism, environmentalism, and the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Those efforts will pay off. As you and your classmates share your insights, you will notice that your questions often create more questions and more insights—not only about the past but also about the world we live in today. How these classic writings give voice to current crises will be a constant discussion throughout your college career.

The editors of this volume have housed this collection in Manifold. This platform enables students to post comments, annotate readings, and share questions and ideas directly inside the text. Our hope is by doing so, the texts “come alive”—and as a result—create an enjoyable learning community. Moreover, this collection includes many accessible resources in its appendix. If required or desired, these resources can extend learning experiences/immersion even more. Professors may assign one or all of the readings, but regardless, you are more than welcome to read through this whole volume. It is our hope that you do so.

Sincerely,
The Editors of Great Books for Composition Courses

Anthology of the Great Books Texts

Please note: Each of the Great Books epubs contains its own Table of Contents with direct links to the book's chapters. A Table of Contents can be accessed by clicking on the "Contents" tab in the epub's upper-left corner.

Feminism

Environmentalism

Civil Rights Activism

Web Resources for the Great Books

Sappho

Biographical Information
Resources from Poets.org General biographical info and includes links to poems.
Information about Sappho from the Poetry Foundation General overview of her life, the time period, and themes in her poetry. Includes links to poems.
Historical Documents
Manuscript fragment from British Library Includes the ability to zoom in on the fragment preserved at the museum.
Fragment at Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford Includes the ability to zoom in on the fragment preserved at the museum.
Exhibit Resources
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and Sappho statue Marple sculpture of the poet.
Tate Gallery's painting of Sappho Simeon Solomon’s Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene

Mary Wollstonecraft

Biographical Information
Biography from ThoughtCo The biographical sketch covers her personal life and influences on her thinking and writing.
General Biography This resource provides a general overview of her life and work.
Historical Documents
British Museum's manuscript pages Original manuscript pages of Vindication of the Rights of Women available digitally.
Yale University's Beinecke Rare Collection This link connects to the website for the rare collection and in particular, illustrations from her manuscripts.
Exhibit Resources
London's National Portrait Gallery Webpage that shares her painting in the famous museum.
National Women's History Museum The online exhibit explores women’s rights in the early republic.

Henry David Thoreau

Biographical Information
Walden Woods Project Website with a treasure trove of information regarding his life and work.
Information from The Thoreau Society Website centered on his legacy with additional educational resources.
Historical Documents
Huntington Library Peruse digitized original manuscript pages.
Digital Thoreau The website provides a fluid text edition of Walden that captures his thought and creative process.
Exhibit Resources
The Morgan Library and Museum Resource for viewing and hearing excerpts from Thoreau’s original writings.
Mapping Thoreau Country The website uses historical maps to organize information regarding Thoreau’s life and writings.

W.E.B. DuBois

Biographical Information
NAACP History W.E.B. DuBois This website highlights W.E.B. DuBois as an activist, scholar, and global citizen.
Hutchin's Center's biography of W.E.B. DuBois The website for Harvard’s Hutchin Center provides the entry from African American National Biography on W.E.B. DuBois.
Historical Documents
An Online Collection of DuBois Papers and Correspondence The original copies of his correspondence and essays are viewable through this website.
Media Resource provided by NEH for the W.E.B. DuBois Collection This website is meant to accompany any perusal of the Online Collection of W.E.B. DuBois.
Exhibit Resources
Library of Congress exhibit "African American Odyssey" This exhibit showcases the long, African American journey for equality from the early national period up to the twentieth century.
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia As the website states, this museum is “using objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.”

Metadata

  • publisher place
    New York City
  • rights
    Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.