Literary Louisiana: Kate Chopin Is the Most Studied Female Writer at US Colleges

Female writers have been underrepresented in education for generations, with their male counterparts almost exclusively leading the way. However, some colleges appear to be making more progress than others by bringing more female authors into the learning agenda in their English Literature degrees.

Language learning platform Preply have conducted a study using the Open Syllabus database to analyze the English Literature syllabi at 170 US colleges to determine the top studied female writers. We found Louisiana’s own literary icon Kate Chopin to be the most studied female author across the country, beating out renowned names such as Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen.

Key Findings:

  • Louisiana resident Kate Chopin is the most studied female author at colleges across the country, appearing 165 times on English Literature syllabi.
  • The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin was the 8th most studied book, and 3rd by a female author, appearing on 95 out of 170 syllabi examined.
  • Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, ranks in the top 10 for having one of the most diverse university syllabi in the US.

    Here is how the ranking would look if we were to remove the male authors:

    1. Kate Chopin
    2. Zora Neale Hurston
    3. Virginia Woolf
    4. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
    5. Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    6. Jane Austen
    7. Toni Morrison
    8. Alice Walker
    9. Flannery O’Connor
    10. Susan Glaspell
    11. Harriet A. Jacobs
    12. Shirley Jackson
    13. Joyce Carol Oates
    14. Sandra Cisneros
    15. Charlotte Bronte
    16. Aphra Behn
    17. Lorraine Hansberry
    18. Nella Larsen
    19. Leslie Marmon Silko
    20. Emily Bronte

    Chopin’s The Story of an Hour is the 8th most studied book on Literature syllabi, 3rd most studied by a female writer

    Preply also revealed the top studied pieces of literature at degree level as part of their research. Despite the number of books being banned across the US growing every month, many familiar titles are still being studied as part of English Literature degrees around the country, highlighting the fact that students continue to enjoy many of the same classics their parents would have before them.

    • Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is the most studied book by a female writer in the country, and the second most studied overall, featuring in 134 syllabi out of the 170 examined.
    • The second female writer to appear in this ranking is Charlotte Perkins Gilman with her short story The Yellow Wallpaper.
    • Kate Chopin with The Story of an Hour ranks 8th in the list, and is the 3rd most studied by a female writer appearing on 95 syllabi.

      Here is how the ranking would look if we were to remove the male authors:

      1. Frankenstein | Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
      2. The Yellow Wallpaper | Charlotte Perkins Gilman
      3. The Story of an Hour | Kate Chopin
      4. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories | Flannery O.’Connor
      5. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Harriet A. Jacobs
      6. A Room of One’s Own | Virginia Woolf
      7. Their Eyes Were Watching God | Zora Neale Hurston
      8. The Lottery | Shirley Jackson
      9. Beloved | Toni Morrison
      10. Pride and Prejudice | Jane Austen

      Loyola University New Orleans: The most diverse Literature lists in the country according to research

      Preply also created a literary diversity index which awards points to colleges based on the diversity of their syllabi overall including the variety of authors, genres and time periods included on their reading lists, to reveal where students can enjoy the most varied and inclusive English Literature degrees.

      • Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, ranks in the top 10 for having one of the most diverse university syllabi in the US, placing 10th.
      • Princeton University was the only Ivy League school to make it into the top 20, offering a well-balanced syllabus across the board.




  • We conducted an extensive analysis of syllabi from 170 American universities offering English Literature courses.
  • By scraping Open Syllabus, we collected data on the most frequently studied literary work to compile our list of the most studied writers and most studied books at United States colleges.
  • To determine the gender of the authors, we used an AI name classifier and manually researched the ones that couldn’t be determined.
  • For the literary diversity index ranking, we considered the following factors: gender diversity of authors, number of different authors, diversity of literary genres, diversity of literary decades and Goodreads ratings.

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