Works Recommended for Freshman Studies

The works on these lists were chosen for simple, practical reasons: they promised to excite both students and faculty, to stimulate good discussions, and to inspire challenging paper topics. The lists represent the major divisions of the Lawrence curriculum, including music and the fine arts; and the syllabus for Freshman Studies always features at least one work from each list.

Works from the fine arts

Works of visual art

  • Berenice Abbott, Tri-Boro Barber School, 264 Bowery, Manhattan (photograph)
  • Hagia Sophia (architecture)
  • Utagawa Hiroshige, Landscape prints (from LU collection)
  • Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother (photograph)
  • Édouard Manet, Olympia (painting)
  • Mickalene Thomas, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe:  Les Trois Femmes Noires (painting)
  • Diego Velázquez, Maids of Honor (painting)


  • Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
  • John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera
  • Susan Glaspell, Trifles
  • Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People
  • Tony Kushner, Angels in America
  • William Shakespeare, Macbeth
  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest
  • Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight:  Los Angeles, 1992
  • Sophocles, Antigone


  • Greta Gerwig, Ladybird
  • Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove
  • Fritz Lang, M
  • Fernando Meirelles, City of God
  • Trinh T. Min-ha, Reassemblage
  • Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers
  • Agnes Varda, Cleo from 5 to 7
  • Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera

Special offerings

Each year, the Director of Freshman Studies should review the offerings planned by the Conservatory, Theatre Department, Wriston Gallery, and visiting theater companies to see if any of them might be appropriate for Freshman Studies.

This list was prepared by Lawrence's fine arts and film studies faculty, and revised in April of 2020. There are five divisional lists, and the syllabus for Freshman Studies must include at least one work from each of them.

Works from the humanities

  • The Arabian Nights
  • J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words
  • James Baldwin, Essays
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
  • Jorge Luis Borges, selected short stories
  • Ted Chiang, Arrival
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, The Response
  • Dante, Vita Nuova
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground
  • Rita Dove, Thomas and Beulah
  • Effigy Mounds of Wisconsin
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
  • Euripides, The Bacchae
  • Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., selected writings*
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
  • Toni Morrison, Sula
  • Plato, The Republic
  • Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
  • The Rule of St. Benedict
  • Elizabeth Rush, Rising
  • Joe Sacco, Paying the Land
  • Shantideva, Way of the Boddhisattva
  • Amy Stanley, Stranger in the Shogun's City
  • Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard
  • Jeremy Waldron, The Harm in Hate Speech
  • Zhuangzi, Basic Writings

This list was prepared by Lawrence's humanities faculty and revised in May of 2021. There are five divisional lists, and the syllabus for Freshman Studies must include at least one work from each of them.


Works of music

  • John Luther Adams, Become Ocean
  • J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto #5
  • J. S. Bach, The Musical Offering
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 5
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, String Quartet, op. 59, no. 1
  • I Wayan Beratha, “Jaya Semara”
  • Alban Berg, Wozzeck
  • Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring
  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
  • Joseph Haydn, The Creation
  • Hildegard von Bingen, Symphony of the Harmony of Heavenly Revelations
  • Intermedii from La Pellegrina
  • Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony no. 41 in C Major
  • Modest Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
  • Giacomo Puccini, La bohème
  • Pauline Oliveros, Sonic Meditations
  • Frederic Rzewski, The People United Will Never Be Defeated
  • Ravi Shankar, The Sounds of India
  • Franz Schubert, Die Winterreise
  • Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring
  • Mary Lou Williams, Zodiac Suite
  • Stevie Wonder, Innervisions

There are five divisional lists, and the syllabus for Freshman Studies must include at least one work from each of them.

Works from the natural sciences and mathematics

  • Richard Alley, The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future
  • Marcia Bjornerud, Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of Earth
  • Nessa Carey, The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance
  • Sean Carroll, The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters
  • Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and General Theory
  • Euclid, Elements
  • Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law
  • Galileo Galilei, Siderius Nuncius
  • Stephen Jay Gould, Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History
  • Roald Hoffmann, The Same and Not the Same
  • Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific
  • Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There
  • Barry Mazur, Imagining Numbers (particularly the square root of minus fifteen)
  • The Periodic Table
  • Proof: The Square Root of Two is Irrational
  • Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
  • Carl Sagan, Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
  • Thomas Seeley, Honeybee Democracy
  • Frans de Waal, Are We Smart Enough to Know how Smart Animals Are?
  • Jonathan Weiner, The Beak of the Finch
  • Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher, The Society of Genes

This list was prepared by Lawrence's science and math faculty and revised in February of 2017. There are five divisional lists, and the syllabus for Freshman Studies must include at least one work from each of them.

Works from the social sciences

  • The Evolution of Cooperation, by Robert Axelrod (2006)
  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2012)
  • Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain, by Lisa Feldman Barrett (2020)
  • Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, by Anne Case and Angus Deaton (2020)
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond (2017)
  • The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois (1903)
  • W.E.B. DuBois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, edited by Whitney Battle-Baptiste and Britt Rusert (2018)
  • The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida (2002, 2012)
  • Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert (2007)
  • Three Seductive Ideas, by Jerome Kagan (2000)
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman (2013)
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder (2009)
  • The World We Need: Stories and Lessons from America’s Unsung Environmental Movement, ed. Audrea Lim (2021)
  • The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee (2021)
  • On Liberty, John Stuart Mill (1859)
  • A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan, Karen Nakamura (2013)
  • An Anthropologist on Mars, by Oliver Sacks (1996)
  • In the Company of Men, by Veronique Tadjo (2021)
  • Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, by Zeynep Tufekci (2018)
  • Lincoln at Gettysburg, Gary Wills (2006)
  • When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, by William Julius Wilson (1997)
  • Human Flow, documentary by Ai Weiwei (2017)
  • Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf (2019)
  • The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution, Richard Wrangham (2019)

This list was prepared by the Freshman Studies Advisory Committee and approved by Lawrence's social science faculty in May of 2022. There are five divisional lists, and the syllabus for Freshman Studies must include at least one work from each of them.