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 five assignments in two drafts. I will consult with you to adapt your choices to your needs.
  • Order a consultation so that we can customize a plan to meet your needs.  
  • Order a consultation to discuss using 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
** 350-400
Dickens, Hard Times or other title Character Descriptions
*** 350-500
Romantic Poetry
** to **** 400-700
History or Biography 
*** 400
Stephenson, "Leiningen vs. the Ants" or other short story
** 300-500
Bradbury, "There Will Come Soft Rains" or other short story
** 300-500
Buchan, Greenmantle Anecdote
**** 500
"-Ism" Essay
Extended Definition
*** 500-800
Short Stories (your choice)
*** 400-600
Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby or Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
*** 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) - A Self-Study Course on WizIQ Based on the Fall 2015 Live Workshop

Email me before enrolling in this course. The offering may change very soon, and I want you to get the best benefit from it. It is a step-by-step treatment of the Writing Prep Workshop with recordings of live online class sessions and may be the best approach for some students.

Writing Assessment Services

Cindy Rinaman Marsch

154 Dight Road

Slippery Rock, PA  16057


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