Irish authors Jonathan Swift and James Joyce are among the top 10 most studied authors for English Literature degrees at universities across the U.S.

Language learning platform Preply conducted a study using the Open Syllabus database to analyze English Literature degrees at 170 US universities to determine the top studied writers and literary titles on college reading lists.

Irish authors make a valuable contribution to the list revealing the most studied authors overall for US Literature degrees. 

The researchers found that renowned Irish authors James Joyce and Jonathan Swift featured in the top 10 most studied authors across the entire United States.

James Joyce. Credit: Getty Images

James Joyce. Credit: Getty Images

William Shakespeare is the most studied writer overall, perhaps unsurprisingly, as he is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Broken down by nationality, nine authors were American, nine British and two Irish.

The top 20 studied authors, along with their nationality:

  1. William Shakespeare | British
  2. Edgar Allan Poe | American
  3. William Faulkner | American
  4. Jonathan Swift | Irish
  5. Nathaniel Hawthorne American
  6. James Joyce | Irish
  7. Kate Chopin | American
  8. Geoffrey Chaucer | British
  9. Zora Neale Hurston | American
  10. Virginia Woolf British
  11. F. Scott Fitzgerald American
  12. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley | British
  13. Robert Frost | American
  14. John Milton | British
  15. Walt Whitman | American
  16. Joseph Conrad | British/Polish
  17. Samuel Taylor Coleridge | British
  18. William Wordsworth | British
  19. Charlotte Perkins Gilman | American
  20. George Orwell | British

Preply also revealed the top studied pieces of literature at degree level in the US, with Swift's "A Modest Proposal" appearing in the top 10. The work appeared on 97 syllabi and ranked 7th overall.

Jonathan Swift. Credit: Getty Images

Jonathan Swift. Credit: Getty Images

"The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer appears on English Literature syllabi more than any other book, found on 139 out of the 170 examined. "Frankenstein" by  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is the second most studied book followed by "Paradise Lost" by poet John Milton.

The top 10 most studied texts, along with their authors and nationality below:

  1. The Canterbury Tales | Geoffrey Chaucer | British
  2. Frankenstein | Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley | British
  3. Paradise Lost | John Milton | British
  4. The Yellow Wallpaper | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | American  
  5. Heart of Darkness | Joseph Conrad | Polish-British
  6. Prufrock and Other Observations | T. S. Eliot | American-British
  7. A Modest Proposal | Jonathan Swift | Irish
  8. The Story of an Hour | Kate Chopin | American
  9. A Rose for Emily | William Faulkner | American
  10. Oedipus the King | Sophocles | (Ancient) Greek

To read Preply's full study on English Literature courses across the U.S., click here.