Not convinced that L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is the most influential work of American literature? James Dawes, an English professor at Macalester College, offers five other contenders:

1. “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a far-left, Bernie Sanders environmentalist or an old-fashioned Reagan Republican, it all starts here. Thoreau defined the values and debates that would shape America to this day and beyond, and he did so with prose that rivals the beauty of Shakespeare.”

2. “Poems,” by Emily Dickinson: “She wrote most of her poems in the 1860s, but her book didn’t come out till 1955. That’s how far ahead of her time she was. She completely destroyed everything people thought they knew about poetry and then reinvented it.”

3. “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” by Douglass: “This is one of the world’s most searing examinations of slavery and remains to this day the most inspiring story ever told in America of the human power to rise against adversity.”

4. “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott: “I defy you to read this and not cry. I defy Vladimir Putin to read this and not cry. It’s hard to imagine most modern television shows, from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ to ‘The Wonder Years’ to just about any family sitcom, without it. The novel invented the idea of the average American family as the site of artistic wonder.”

5. “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Fitzgerald was to the American novel what Bob Dylan was to American music. It simply isn’t possible anymore for an American to get to be such a big celebrity for writing a novel. He was the last great literary rock star.”