History of the Online Syllabus Database

The Post-Discipline Online Syllabus Database is a collaboration between Dr Merve Emre and Dr Hayley G. Toth, with the support of the University of Oxford’s Digital Sustainable Scholarship (SDS) Service.


It was originally conceived as a way to identify post-disciplinary uses of literature on professional education programmes and courses in the United States, and to determine whether the number of post-disciplinary courses is increasing. Our hope was to collate post-disciplinary course syllabi to provide a picture of how literature is used outside of English departments, and to use this data to contextualise literary and literary-professional responses to ‘the crisis of the humanities’.


The Online Syllabus Database has since grown into a dynamic resource, capable of displaying the distribution of post-disciplinary courses by a range of data fields, including subject area, course title, institutional funding status, institutional endowment, and geographical region. You can find out more about how to use the Database here.


The Database brings together data already in the public domain (sourced from university and college websites) with new, primary data resulting from an online survey that we ran in 2021/22. It contains a total of 1,049 records, with information about over 400 active and historic courses at 768 institutions in US. These institutions were sampled based on U.S. News & World Report's rankings for graduate schools for studies in Law, Medicine, and Business. In our initial online search enquiries, we identified courses by searching for the following keywords in course catalogs and course schedules: literature, fiction, story, novel, poetry, theater, humanities, and imagination. Our online survey - distributed to over 2,000 instructors and faculty across the 768 institutions of our sample - supplemented these findings.

open books next to piles of books