Core Texts

Students read a bit of everything in the Valpo Core, including classic and contemporary literature, film, memoir, stories from the Bible and other religious traditions, philosophical works, historical documents, works of oral history, essays and letters. It won’t be a single textbook, that’s for sure.


FALL 2014


Origins Unit


Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”

Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Film: The Joy Luck Club (1993; directed by Wayne Wang)

Genesis, chapters 1-4

Phyllis Trible. “Eve and Adam: Genesis 2-3 Reread”

Benjamin Franklin, “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”

“Corn Mother” (Penobscot story of origins)

“Old Man Coyote Makes the World” (Crow story of origins)

Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”

Mary Szybist, poems from Incarnadine



Education Unit


Film: Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination (2008; directed by Chad Heeter)

David F. Labaree, selection from Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling

Fareed Zakaria, Commencement Keynote Address, Sarah Lawrence College, 2014

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself

Plato, “Allegory of the Cave” (from Republic, Book VII)

Paulo Freire, selection from Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Adrienne Rich, “Claiming an Education”



Love Unit


Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Stephanie Coontz, selections from Marriage, A History

The Book of Ruth

Euripides, Alcestis (adapted by Ted Hughes)

Selection from Martin Luther King, Jr., “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence” (from Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story)

Song of Songs

Selections from the poetry of Rumi

Film: Philadelphia (1993; directed by Jonathan Demme)

Mary Szybist, poems from Incarnadine




Leadership and Service Unit


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence" and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” 

Wendy Kopp, One Day, All Children...

Reggie Whitten and Nancy Henderson, Sewing Hope

Sophocles, Antigone, trans. Richard Braun 

Film: Invictus (2009, dir. Clint Eastwood) 


Work and Vocation Unit


Frederick Buechner, “Vocation”

Will Campbell, “Vocation as Grace”

“The Wal-Mart Greeter” from Bowe, Bowe, and Streeter, eds., Gig: Americans Talk about Their Jobs

Studs Terkel, “Who Built the Pyramids, from Working

Karl Marx, “Reflections of a Young Man on the Choice of a Profession”

Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor” from Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

Mihee Kim-Kort, ed., Streams Run Uphill (selections)

Karlfried Froehlich, “Luther on Vocation”

Film: Billy Elliot (2000, dir. Stephen Daldry)

Bowe, Bowe, and Streeter, eds., Gig: Americans Talk about Their Jobs (selections)



Life and Death Unit


The Gospel According to Mark

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

Film: Wit (2001, dir. Mike Nichols)

In-class screening of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture