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This cool interactive map shows you the most-assigned college texts, from Marx to ‘Frankenstein’

The Open Syllabus Project uses data from six million syllabi to figure out the most frequently assigned texts in college. Here they all are, laid out in an easy-to-use, interactive map.

This cool interactive map shows you the most-assigned college texts, from Marx to ‘Frankenstein’
[Photo: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash]

One of the biggest problems in the world today—at least according to the right-leaning pundit class—is the scourge of liberal bias among college professors. The very idea of young, moldable minds mainlining Michael Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country? at least three times per semester because of their Prius-driving professor, rather than, say, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, makes their blood boil, they would have you believe.

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The Open Syllabus Project, however, demonstrates that the bulk of the most-taught texts in college right now derive from the traditional Western canon. Whether a professor privately rolls her eyes at the confrontational kid in the MAGA hat, the assigned reading speaks for itself—and it says, “Plato’s Republic still has relevance in 2019.”

That title is No. 5 on the list, which Columbia University created from over six million syllabi. Sitting at the top spot is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, while the top 10 also contains Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Leviathan by Hobbes, and Marx’s Communist Manifesto, the last of which is included exclusively for indoctrination purposes, not to relay the concept of social stratification in a historical context. The list consists of 165,000 items from all sorts of academic works, although the genres with the most entries are literature, philosophy and textbooks.

Although Columbia began the project in 2016, it has since added more syllabi to its original one million. To make the list easier to digest, the creators have now converted the info from it into a color-coded interactive visualization, called the Co-Assignment Galaxy.

In that visualization, you can move your cursor over any of the dots to see the number of syllabi that have assigned the text it matches up with. It may not be the thing that finally convinces you the kids are alright, but it should assuage any doubts that they’re no longer being forced to read Machiavelli.

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Drew Anthony Smith plays with pictures for Fast Company online.

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