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and contemporary literature, film, memoir, stories from the Bible and other religious traditions, philosophical works, historical documents, works of oral history, essays and letters.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 2015


Origins Unit


Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”

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

Film: Amreeka (2009, dir. Cherien Dabis)

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)

"History of the Miraculous Apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe"

Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”



Education Unit


Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

Adrienne Rich, “Claiming an Education”

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

Paulo Freire, selection from Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Film: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002, dir. Dai Sijie)

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

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha




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 Nathalie Handal

Film: Philadelphia (1993; directed by Jonathan Demme)




Leadership and Service Unit


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

Warren St. John, Outcasts United

Sophocles, Antigone, trans. Richard Braun 

Film: Selma (2014, dir. Ava DuVernay)

The Bhagavad-Gita


Work and Vocation Unit


Frederick Buechner, “Vocation”

Will Campbell, “Vocation as Grace”

Selections from David Brooks, The Road to Character

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

Karlfried Froehlich, “Luther on Vocation”

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


Gilgamesh and Enkidu

Life and Death Unit


The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Gospel According to Mark

John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

Film: Wit (2001, dir. Mike Nichols)