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

  • Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation
  • Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
  • Robert Bates, Essays on the Political Economy of Rural Africa
  • Paul Bloom, How Pleasure Works
  • Elizabeth Colson, Tradition and Contract: The Problem of Social Order
  • Michael Gazzaniga, Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain
  • Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness
  • Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons"
  • Nancy Howell, Demography of the Dobe !Kung
  • Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, The Woman that Never Evolved
  • Jerome Kagan, Three Seductive Ideas
  • John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
  • James Madison, The Selected Writings of James Madison
  • Marcel Mauss, The Gift
  • Richard McCormick, The Presidential Game: The Origins of American Presidential Politics
  • Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority
  • John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
  • Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History
  • Katherine Newman, No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City
  • Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd, Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution
  • Thomas Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior
  • Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom
  • J. Ann Tickner, Gender in International Relations
  • Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg
  • William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor

This list was prepared by the Freshman Studies Advisory Committee and approved by Lawrence's social science faculty in February of 2016. There are five divisional lists, and the syllabus for Freshman Studies must include at least one work from each of them.