Great Books--the Great Conversation

Many online tutors, schools, and texts now educate with a Great Books approach, encouraging students to engage with ideas from across millennia. I have developed over thirty core assignments from ancient through modern texts, and they can be used as-is or adapted for your particular readings.  For example, a Shakespeare assignment may easily adapt to another Shakespeare play, or a comparison of Genesis and Gilgamesh could be applied to King David and Achilles.

  • Quick Order the Great Books Writing Workshop if you like the plan of four assignments in two drafts. Or email me if you want a different number of assignments within one of the modules below (like Antiquity), and I will invoice you for the number you want. You will receive the whole collection of assignments in that module in either case, and I will consult with you briefly by email to adapt your choices to your needs.
  • Order a consultation so that we can customize a plan to meet your particular needs beyond a simple choice of assignments, or if you want to use my materials on your own, without evaluation.  
  • Scroll to the bottom of this page for information about Great Books Writing Prep, a courtesy module for all students writing essays about literature, history, philosophy, and theology.

(The assignments are designed for an evaluated draft stage and then an evaluated final version of the essay. Difficulty is roughly 8th grade** to 10th*** to 12th****)


Daniel (portions)
** 300-500
Genesis (portions), Gilgamesh
*** 500
Odyssey  (portions)
Characterization or Narrative
** or *** 600-800
Herodotus (portions)
Special Narrative
** or *** 500
Oedipus Rex and Poetics
*** 500-1000
Plutarch on Lycurgus and Numa P.
*** 400-700
Plato on Socrates' Trial and Death
*** 400-700
Plutarch on Cicero and Alexander
Essay Exam ** 1 hour for exam
Caesar, Gallic War (portions)
Anecdote **** 600
Augustine, Confessions (portions) Research/Analysis
*** 800-1000

Christendom (Medieval/Renaissance/Puritan)

Augustine Confessions (portions) Narrative
** 300-400
Beowulf Thesis/Support *** 500-700
Shakespeare, Henry V  Anecdote *** 500
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Proverb
*** 400
Dante, Inferno Blame (Invective)
**** 400-700
Chaucer, Canterbury Tales (portions) Choice
** to **** Varied lengths
Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Essay Exam
** 1 hour for exam
Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, "Battle With Apollyon" Narrative
*** 350-500
Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress Part One
*** 500
Milton, Paradise Lost  (portions)
*** 400-700
Poetry Thesis/Support *** 400-700



Austen, Pride and Prejudice or other title Narrative ** 350-400
Dickens, Hard Times or other title Character Descriptions *** 350-500
Romantic Poetry Thesis/Support ** to **** 400-700
History or Biography  Proverb *** 400
Stephenson, "Leiningen vs. the Ants" or other short story Narrative ** 300-500
Bradbury, "There Will Come Soft Rains" or other short story Description ** 300-500
Buchan, Greenmantle Anecdote **** 500
"-Ism" Essay Extended Definition *** 500-800
Short Stories (your choice) Praise/Blame *** 400-600
Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby or Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Speech-in-Character *** 250-400
Practice with Maupassant, "The Necklace," Exam choices: Clark, "Hook"; Steinbeck, "The Pearl"; or Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" Essay Exam ** 1 hour for exam

Writing Skills for Literature and History (Great Books Writing Prep) - A Self-Study Course

This free short course for all students enrolled in Great Books Writing Workshop (automatic) or other courses and evaluations (by request) is a step-by-step treatment of the kinds of writing tasks included in assignments for students writing about history and literature. It includes tips on things like incorporating quotations, handling narrative as part of an essay, using comparison effectively, and paying attention to common mechanics errors. The course includes eight brief "quizzes" covering the material, and most students enjoy working through it. I will include it with the materials I send with your order.

Writing Assessment Services

Cindy Rinaman Marsch

154 Dight Road

Slippery Rock, PA  16057


Cindy Rinaman Marsch is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Please note: my name and some of my work associated with the academically dishonest website studybay. I signed up with them to see if I could find my info but was unable to, and they are unresponsive to my requests to be cleared out of their files. I have no connection to them and do not endorse them. (5/2017)