MA Reading list

Reading List for M.A. Exam

The reading list for the MA is designed to develop students' general knowledge of the history and diversity of literatures in English, encouraging a broad, structured understanding of the discipline while allowing candidates the opportunity for considerable choice to accommodate their individual interests. While acknowledging literary-historical traditions as an important ground of knowledge, the MA Reading List attends to the variety of individual preferences, the increasing diversity of canonical texts, and the changing nature of literary canonicity.

Students must take the new examination no later than their 4th semester in the program to maintain satisfactory progress

On the MA Reading List, you should choose 42 as the basis for the M.A. Exam, including the required number of selections from each area on the list.   For the number of selections required in each area, see the table below and the instructions included with the lists.  In the process of developing a final individualized list you should consult closely with the members of your committee, all of whom must approve your list before it can be filed.



Total number of selections

Required number of selections to be chosen by student




Renaissance/Early Modern



Early American



The Long 18th Century



19th Century American



19th Century British



20th Century American



20th Century British



World Literature







*In the case of 19th-Century American and British lists, a total of 10 selections are required, including a minimum of 3 from each category.

**In the case of 20th-Century American and British lists, a total of 10 texts are required, including a minimum of 3 from each category.

Allowable modifications of the reading list:

With the approval of the student’s committee, a total of up to 10 selections not on the MA Reading List may be substituted for 10 selections from the MA Reading List; no more than 2 substitutions may be made for any single section of the reading list.


For a downloadable reading list in Word, click here.




AS OF MAY 2019

 Medieval Literature: select 4


An asterisk (*) indicates required reading


1. * Old English Narrative and Lyric Poetry


Beowulf (translations acceptable)


“The Wanderer,” “The Seafarer,” “The Dream of the Rood,” “The Wife’s Lament “The Battle of Maldon” (translations acceptable)


2. * Chaucer, Geoffrey (1340?-1400). The Canterbury Tales (Larry D. Benson, ed. The Canterbury Tales Complete [Boston, 2000])


General Prologue, Knight’s Tale, Miller’s Tale, Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, Clerk’s Tale, Merchant’s Tale, Franklin’s Tale, Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale, Prioress’s Tale, Nun’s Priest’s Tale


3. Chaucer, Geoffrey. Troilus and Criseyde (Larry D. Benson, ed. The Riverside Chaucer [Boston, 1987])


4. Verse Romance


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (c. 1375-1400) (R. A. Waldron and Malcolm Andrew, eds., The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript, York Medieval Texts [Berkeley, Calif., 1979]; Marie Borroff, trans. [New York, 1967])


5. Allegory and Mysticism


Pearl (R. A. Waldron and Malcolm Andrew, eds., The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript, York Medieval Texts [Berkeley, Calif., 1979]; Marie Borroff, trans. [New York, 1977])

Piers Plowman (“B” or “C” Text): Prologue and Passus 1-7 (E. Talbot Donaldson, trans., Piers Plowman, An Alliterative Verse Translation [New York, 1990] is a satisfactory translation of the “B” Text.)

Julian of Norwich, A Revelation of Love (Marion Glasscoe, ed., rev. ed. [Exeter, 1993])


6. Lyrics (esp. in R. L. Stevick, ed., One Hundred Middle English Lyrics, rev. ed. [Urbana, Ill., 1994], and Maxwell S. Luria and Richard L. Hoffman, eds., Middle English Lyrics, Norton Critical Edition [New York, 1974])


“Myrie songen the monkes binne Ely”

“Myrie it is while sumer ilast,”

“Foweles in the frith,”

“Sumer is icumen in,”


“Lenten is comen with love to toun,”

“I sing of a maiden,”

“Now goth sonne under wod,”

“As I me rod this ender day/by grene wod,”

“As I me rod this ender day/on my pleyinge,” and others from a standard collection.


7. Middle English Drama: Morality and Mystery (Cycle) Plays (Except as noted below, they appear in David Bevington, ed., Medieval Drama [Boston, 1975])



Second Shepherd’s Play (Wakefield), and TWO of the following:


Abraham and Isaac (Brome, possibly from a cycle; in A. C. Cawley, ed., Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays, [New York, 1959]; also in Norman Davis, ed., Non-Cycle Plays and Fragments, Early English Text Society, Supplementary Series 1, 1970)

Noah (Wakefield)

The Shepherds (York Chandlers)

The Crucifixion (York Pinners and Painters)


8. Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471), selections from Le Morte d’Arthur (Preferred edition: E. Vinaver, ed., The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, 3rd ed., rev. P. J. C. Field, 3 vols. [Oxford, 1990]; Library call number PR2041 .V5 1990. The Vinaver/Field text is from London, British Library, MS Add. 59678, usually known as the “Winchester Manuscript”; Caxton’s widely available text is also acceptable.)


“Merlin” Section I (= Caxton, Book I)

“The Book of Sir Tristram de Lyones” Section XIV: Launcelot and Elaine (= Caxton, Bk XI, XII, Chaps. 1-10)

“The Tale of the Sankgreal” (= Caxton, Bks XIII-XVII)

“The Book of Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere” (= Caxton, Bks XVIII-XIX

“The Most Piteous Tale of the Morte Arthur Saunz Guerdon” (=Caxton, Bks XX-XXI)





Renaissance/Early Modern British Literature: select 7


Shakespeare’s plays and Milton’s Paradise Lost are required. For selections from clusters, please confer with Renaissance/Early Modern faculty and your committee.

An asterisk (*) indicates required reading


1. Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599): Books I and III of The Faerie Queen (1590); and Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), selected speeches.


2. Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586): The Defence of Poesie (1595)


3. Christopher Marlowe (1564-93), Edward II ; Dr. Faustus


4. * Shakespeare (1564-1616): 6 plays (include at least one play from each of the following genres: comedy, tragedy, history, romance)


5. Ben Jonson (1572-1637), Volpone (1607)


6. Amelia Lanyer (1569-1645) Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611)


7. Elizabeth Cary (1585-1618), The Tragedy of Mariam (1613)


8. John Webster (1578-1630s?): The Duchess of Malfi (1623)


9. Sonnet cluster: selected sonnets from Mary Wroth (1586-1640), Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86), and Shakespeare (1564-1616)


10. Lyric Cluster: selected poems by John Donne (1572-1631), Robert Herrick (1591-1674) “Delight in Disorder,” “The Hock-Cart,” and “The Vine”, George Herbert (1593-1633), Richard Crashaw (c.1613-49), and Aphra Behn (1640-89)


11. “Querelle des Femmes” Cluster: Joseph Swetnam (fl. 1615-119), Jane Anger (fl. 1588), Rachel Speght (fl. 1597-after 1621)


12. Transvestism Cluster: Middleton and Dekker, The Roaring Girl (1611); Hic Mulier/Haec Vir (1620)


13. Colonial Cluster: selections from Sir Walter Raleigh (c.1554-1618), The Discovery of Guiana (1596); Edmund Spenser (1552-99) View of the State of Ireland (1633); Aphra Behn (1640-89), Oroonoko (1688)


14. “Tolerance” Cluster: Milton, Areopagitica (1644); Anne Askew (1521-46), Examinations (1546-47); and selections from Gerrard Winstanley (1609-52)


15. *John Milton (1608-74), Paradise Lost (1674)



The Long 18th Century (British): select 5


Choose 5 of the following 11 selections. For selections from clusters, confer with faculty in the field and your committee.



1. Restoration and 18th century Poetry (choose 4: 2 women and 2 men, one of whom must be Pope or Dryden): (Women) Ann Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, "A Sigh," "Reformation," "Friendship between Ephelia and Ardelia"; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "The Resolve," ""Epitaph," ""Answer to a Love-Letter in Verse," "A Receipt to Cure the Vapours"; Sarah Dixon, "Verses Left on a Lady's Toilet," "To Strephon," "The Slattern," "Lines Occasioned by the Burning of Some Letters"; Ann Letitia Barbauld, "The Rights of Women," "To The Poor," "Washing-Day."  (Men) John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, "A Ramble in St. James Park," "The Imperfect Enjoyment"; John Dryden (1631-1700), Absalom and Achitophel, MacFlecknoe, and The Medall;  Alexander Pope (1688-1744), "The Rape of the Lock," “The Essay on Man," and "Epistle to a Lady"; Thomas Gray, "Elegy in a Country Churchyard."



2. Restoration and 18th c. Drama (choose 4; 2 women and 2 men: (Women) Aphra Behn (1640-89), The Rover; Mary Pix, The Innocent Mistress; Susanna Centlivre, The Busybody;  Hannah Cowley, The Belle's Stratagem(Men)  William Congreve (1670-1729), The Way of the World; George Etherege (1634?-1691?), The Man of Mode; Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), The School for Scandal; William Wycherley (1640-1716), The Country Wife.


3. Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731), Moll Flanders or Robinson Crusoe


4. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Gulliver’s Travels, "A Modest Proposal," "Description of a City Shower," and "The Lady's Dressing Room."


5. Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), Clarissa or Pamela


6. Henry Fielding (1707-54), Joseph Andrews or Tom Jones


7. Samuel Johnson (1709-84), Rasselas, “The Vanity of Human Wishes"


8. Essayists (choose one woman and one man essayist): (Women) Eliza Haywood, The Secret History of Present Intrigues; Mary Wollsteonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women; selections from the works of Lady Mary Worley Montagu.  (Men) Edmund Burke, from Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790): Edward Gibbon, from Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; selection from Joseph Steele and Richard Addison from The Tatler and The Spectator.


9. Laurence Sterne (1713-68), Tristram Shandy


10. Frances Burney (1752-1840), Evelina


11. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice or Emma.







Early American Literature: select 2 to 4




1. John Smith (1580-1631), General Historie of Virginia

2. John Winthrop (1588-1649), A Modell of Christian Charity

3. William Bradford (1590-1657), Of Plymouth Plantation

4. Thomas Shepard (1604?-1649), The Autobiography

5. Anne Bradstreet, (1612?-1672), “The Prologue”; “The Flesh and the Spirit”; “The Author to Her Book”; “Before the Birth of One of Her Children”; “Contemplations”; “To My Dear and Loving Husband”; “A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment”; “Another [Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment]”; “In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet”; “In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Simon Bradstreet”; “Here Follows Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House”; “To My Dear Children”

6. Mary Rowlandson (1636?-1711), A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

7. Edward Taylor (1642?-1729), “Prologue”; “Meditation 8 (First Series)”; “Meditation 16 (First Series)”; “Meditation 22 (First Series)”; “Meditation 38 (First Series)”; Mediation 42 (First Series)”; “Meditation 26 (Second Series)”; Meditation 150 (Second Series)” from Preparatory Meditations; “The Preface”; “The Soul’s Groan to Christ for Succor”; “Christ’s Reply” from God’s Determinations; “A Fig for Thee, Oh! Death”; “Upon a Wasp Chilled with Cold”; “Am I thy gold? or purse, lord, for thy wealth?”;

“I kenning through astronomy divine”; “The Reflexion”                     

8.  Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727), The Private Journal of a Journey from Boston to New York in the Year 1704. (1704)

90. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” “A Divine and Supernatural Light,” Personal Narrative.

10. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), The Autobiography

11. Samson Occom (1723-1792), “A Short Narrative of My Life”

12. J. Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur (1735-1813), from Letters from an American Farmer: “Letters 1-3" and “Letters 9-12.”

13. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Notes on the State of Virginia

14. Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797), The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

15. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), “On Being Brought from Africa to America”; “To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth, His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for North America”; “To the University of Cambridge, in New England”; “On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitfield”; “Thoughts on the Works of Providence”; “To S. M., a Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works”; “To His Excellency General Washington” (1773-1776)

16.  Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) and James Madison (1751-1836), The Federalist no. 1 and no.10

17. Royall Tyler (1757-1826), The Contrast

18. Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810), Edgar Huntly or Wieland (choose one)






19th Century British Literature

select 4-5

(19c British, 19C American, American 1800-1890, American 1890-1945, American 1945-present = 20)


  1. William Blake (1757-1827), Songs of Innocence and Experience, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”


  1. Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) or The Italian (1797)


  1. William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Preface to the1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads, “Tintern Abbey” & the Immortality Ode; The Prelude chapters 5 and 12.


  1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), “Kubla Khan,” “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Christabel,” Biographia XIV.


  1. Jane Austen (1775-1817), Pride and Prejudice or Emma


  1. George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824),  The Corsair, Manfred, Childe Harold, Don Juan  Canto 1, “She Walks in Beauty.”


  1. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), “Ozymandias,” “To a Skylark,” “Adonaïs,” “Ode to the West Wind,” “The Revolt of Islam,” “Mont Blanc,” “Mutability,” “The Triumph of Life.”


  1. John Keats (1795-1821), selected poems, combination of 1-3 long and 5 short works, e.g.: “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “Ode to a Nightingale,” “Endymion,” “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” “The Eve of St. Agnes,” “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” “Bright Star!” “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles,” “To Sleep,” “To Autumn,” “Ode to Psyche”


  1. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851), Frankenstein


  1. Romantic Women Writers: selections from Charlotte Smith (1749-1806), Mary Robinson (1758-1800), Joanna Baillie (1762-1851), Felicia Hemans (1793-1835), Letitita Landon (1802-38)



  1. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61), Sonnets from the Portuguese


  1. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92), “The Lady of Shallot,” “Ulysses,” “In Memoriam A.H.H.,” three idylls from Idylls of the King


  1. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63), Vanity Fair


  1. Robert Browning (1812-89), “My Last Duchess,” “Porphyria’s Lover,” “How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix,” “Fra Lippo Lippi,” “Andrea del Sarto.”


  1. Charles Dickens (1812-70), choose one: Bleak House or David Copperfield or Our Mutual Friend or Great Expectations


  1. Charlotte Bronte (1816-55), Jane Eyre


  1. Emily Bronte (1818-48), Wuthering Heights


  1. George Eliot (1819-80), Middlemarch or The Mill on the Floss


  1. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Jude the Obscure or Tess of the D’Urbervilles or Far From the Madding Crowd


  1. The Pre-Raphaelites and associates: D.G. Rossetti (1828-82) “The Blessed Damozel,” “The Portrait,” Christina Rossetti (1830-94) “Goblin Market,” “From House to Home,” William Morris (1834-96) “The Earthly Paradise,” Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) “The Garden of Proserpine.” 


  1. Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89), Holy Sonnets: “No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief”, “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day”’ “Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend”;); “God’s Grandeur,” ‘The Windhover,” “Pied Beauty,”


  1. Victorian Prose Writers (choose 3 authors): one work by Matthew Arnold (1822-88), Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Charles Darwin (1809-82), John Henry Newman (1801-90), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Walter Pater (1839-94), or John Ruskin (1819-1900).


  1. Sensationalist Fiction: (choose 2):  Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: “The Sign of the Four,” “A Study in Scarlet”; H. Ryder Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines; Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Bram Stoker, Dracula; H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.











19th Century American Literature (1800-1890)

select 3-5

(19c British, 19C American, American 1800-1890, American 1890-1945, American 1945-present = 20)





1. James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), The Pioneers or Last of the Mohicans (choose one)

2.  Washington Irving (1783-1859), “Rip Van Winkle”; “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

3. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), Nature; “Self-Reliance”; “The American Scholar”; “The Poet”; “Experience”; “Circles”

4. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Either The Scarlet Letter and “The Custom-House” or The House of Seven Gables;


 “My Kinsman, Major Molineaux”; “Rappaccini’s Daughter”; “Young Goodman Brown”; “The Minister’s Black Veil”

5.  Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), Woman in the Nineteenth Century

6. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; “The Purloined Letter”; “The Fall of the House of Usher”; “Ligeia”; “The Black Cat”; “The Raven”; “Annabel Lee”; “The Bells,” [TN: “The City in the Sea”]

7. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), Uncle Tom’s Cabin

8. Harriet Jacobs (c. 1813-1897), Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

9.  William Wells Brown (1814-1884), Clotel (1853)

10. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Walden and “Resistance to Civil Government”

11. Frederick Douglass (1818?-1895), The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself (1st Ed.)

12. Walt Whitman (1819-1892):

–From the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass: “Song of Myself.”

–Also required (any edition is fine): The “Calamus” sequence, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” “Song of the Open Road,” “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life,” “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”

13. Herman Melville (1819-1891), Moby-Dick

14. Herman Melville (1819-1891), Billy Budd; “Benito Cereno,” “Bartleby,”

15. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), select any 15 of the following: “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers”; “I taste a liquor never brewed”; “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”; “Wild Nights—Wild Nights!”; “There’s a certain Slant of light”; “I like a look of Agony”; “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”; “It was not Death, for I stood up”; “A Bird, came down the Walk”; “This World is not conclusion”; “The Soul selects her own Society”; “He fumbles at your Soul”; “Because I could not stop for Death”; “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died”; “The Brain—is wider than the Sky”; “My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun”; “Publication—is the Auction”; “A narrow Fellow in the Grass”; “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”; “Apparently with no surprise”; “She sweeps with many-colored brooms”; “Prayer is the little implement”; “After great pain, a formal feeling comes”; “The Loneliness One Dare not sound”; Our journey had advanced”; “I reason, Earth is short’; “I’m ‘wife’--I’ve finished that—“; “God is a distant--stately Lover—“; “A Wife--at Daybreak I shall be—“

16. Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), Little Women (1868-9)

17. Henry James, Portrait of a Lady 1881

18. Henry James (1843-1916), “Daisy Miller,” “The Figure in the Carpet,” “The Turn of the Screw”

19. Mark Twain (1835-1910), Huckleberry Finn (1884) or Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)









20th Century British Literature

select 4-5

(19c British, 19C American, American 1800-1890, American 1890-1945, American 1945-present = 20)


1. Hardy, Thomas (1840-1928), “Hap,” “Neutral Tones,” “In Tenebris I,” “In Tenebris II,” “The Darkling Thrush,” “The Going,” “Your Last Drive,” “The Voice,” “Channel Firing,” “The Convergence of the Twain”


2. Conrad, Joseph (1857-1924), Heart of Darkness and one of these: The Secret Agent, Lord Jim, Nostromo, or Under Western Eyes


3. Shaw, G.B. (1856-1950), Choose two: Heartbreak House, Misalliance, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Major Barbara, or Pygmalion


4. Yeats, William Butler (1865-1939), “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,”  “Who Goes with Fergus?”, “Easter, 1916,” “The Second Coming,” “Sailing to Byzantium,” “Byzantium,” “Leda and the Swan,” “The Tower,” “Crazy Jane and the Bishop,” “Crazy Jane On The Day Of Judgment,” “Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop,” “Crazy Jane Grown Old Looks at the Dancers,” “Among School Children,” “The Circus Animals’ Desertion,” “Lapis Lazuli,” “When You Are Old,” and “A Dialogue of Self and Soul”


5. Kipling, Rudyard (1865-1936), "The Ballad of East and West," "The White Man's Burden," “Gunga Din,” and either Kim or The Man Who Would Be King


6. J.M. Synge (1871-1909), Playboy of the Western World and The Aran Islands


7. Ford, Ford Madox (1873-1939), The Good Soldier


8. Forster, E.M. (1879-1970), Passage to India or Howards End


9. Joyce, James (1882-1941), Ulysses, or both Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners


10. Woolf, Virginia (1882-1941), To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway


11. Lawrence, D.H. (1885-1930), “Song of a Man Who Has Come Through,” “Snake,” “Trees in the Garden,” “Bavarian Gentians,” “Cypresses,” “The Ship of Death” and either Women In Love, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, or Sons and Lovers


12. A selection of World War I Poetry:  


Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), “A Working Party,” “Repression of War Experience,” “Everyone Sang”


Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” “Strange Meeting,” “The Sentry”


Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918), “On Receiving News of War,” “Break of Day in the Trenches,” “Returning, We Hear the Larks”


Ivor Gurney (1890-1937), “The Silent One,” “Strange Hells”


13. Rebecca West (1892-1983), The Return of the Soldier


14. Waugh, Evelyn (1903-1966), Brideshead Revisited


15. Greene, Graham (1904-1991), The Quiet American, The Ministry of Fear, The End of the Affair, or The Heart of the Matter


16. Beckett, Samuel (1906-1989), Choose one play and one prose work. Plays: Waiting for Godot, Endgame, or Krapp's Last Tape. Novels / novellas: Murphy, Watt, Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, or Company


17. Auden, W.H. (1907-1973), “1929,” “Lullaby,” “Victor,” “As I Walked Out One Evening,” “Have a Good Time,” “The Letter,” “Taller Today,” “This Loved One,” “Musée des Beaux Arts,” “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” “September 1, 1939,” “Spain 1937,” “In Praise of Limestone,” “The Shield of Achilles”


18. Spark, Muriel (1918-2006), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or Memento Mori


19. Lessing, Doris (1919-2013), The Golden Notebook, The Fifth Child, or Shikasta


20. Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999), The Sea, The Sea, The Black Prince, or The Book and the Brotherhood


21. Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer (1927-2012), The Householder or Heat & Dust


22. Pinter, Harold (1930-2008), The Homecoming, No Man's Land, and The Birthday Party


23. J.G. Ballard (1930-2009), The Drowned World, Crash, or High-Rise


24. Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), “Digging,” “The Death of a Naturalist,” “Bogland,” “Bog Oak,” “The Other Side,” “North,” “Viking Dublin,” “Bog Queen,” “The Grauballe Man,” “Act of Union,” “Field Work,” “Alphabets,” “The Haw Lantern,” and “Seeing Things”


25. Ishiguro, Kazuo (1954- ), The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, or When We Were Orphans


26. Kureshi, Hanif (1954- ), My Beautiful Laundrette or The Buddha of Suburbia


27. Linton Kwesi Johnson (1952- ) “Five Nights of Bleeding,” “Song of Blood,” “Inglan is a Bitch,” “Mi Revalueshanary Fren,” “Sense Outta Nonsense,” “More Time,” “If I Woz a Tap Natch Poet”


28. Jean Binta Breeze  (1957- ) “Ryddym ravings (the mad woman’s poem),” “Riding de Ryddym,” “Love Song,” “The Crossing,” “The Wife of Bath in Brixton Market,” “The Arrival of Brighteye,” and “Third World Girl”


29. Naipaul, V.S. (1932- ), The Enigma of Arrival


30. Rushdie, Salman (1947- ), The Satanic Verses


31. Smith, Zadie (1975- ), White Teeth or NW

32. Ali, Monica (1967- ), Brick Lane
















American Literature and Film 1890-1945

select 3-5

(19c British, 19C American, American 1800-1890, American 1890-1945, American 1945-present = 20)


  1. Kate Chopin, The Awakening 1899


  1.  Frank Norris, McTeague 1899


  1.  Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie 1900


  1. Stephen Crane: choose any three: “The Blue Hotel” (1898), “The Open Boat” (1897), “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” (1898), Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893),   Red Badge of Courage (1895)


5. James, Henry (1843-1916), The Ambassadors or The Golden Bowl or The Wings of the Dove


6. Wharton, Edith (1862-1937), The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence


7. duBois, W.E.B. (1868-1963), The Souls of Black Folk


8. James Weldon Johnson (1871 – 1938), “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “O Black and Unknown Bards,” “To America,” “The White Witch,” “Sunset in the Tropics,” “Brer Rabbit, You’s de Cutes’ of ‘Em All,” “The Creation,” “The Judgment Day”


9. Selection of Blues and Ragtime Popular Song Lyrics (Various, 1873 - ), Anonymous, “White House Blues,” “Midnight Special;” W.C. Handy (1873 – 1958): “St. Louis Blues” and “Beale Street Blues;” Ma Rainey (1886 – 1939), “Southern Blues;” Charlie Patton (1887 – 1934), “High Water Everywhere;” Irving Berlin (1888 – 1989), “Everybody’s Doin’ It,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Slumming on Park Avenue;” Cole Porter (1891 – 1964), “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Anything Goes,” “Just One of Those Things”


10. Cather, Willa (1873-1947), The Professor’s House or My Antonia or Death Comes to the Archbishop


11. Stein, Gertrude (1874-1946), The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Three Lives, and Tender Buttons [Choose 2], “Susie Asado


12. Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925), “The Pike,” “Patterns,” “Thompson’s Lunch Room—Grand Central Station,” “Spring Equinox,” “Vernal Equinox,” “Venus Transiens,” “Bright Sunlight,” “The Weather-Cock Points South,” “Shore Grass,” “Lilacs,” “Meeting-House Hill,” “Katydids,” “New Heavens for Old,” “Dissonance”


13. Stevens, Wallace (1879-1955), 

  • select 12 of the following:“Blanche McCarthy,” “Sunday Morning,” “Domination of Black,” “In the Carolinas,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” “Nomad Exquisite,” “Anecdote of the Jar,” “The Man Whose Pharynx was Bad,” “Gubbinal,” “The Snow Man,” “Tea at the Palaz of Hoon,” “The Idea of Order at Key West,” “The Man on the Dump,” “Landscape with Boat,” “This Solitude of Cataracts,” “Puella Parvula,” “Questions Are Remarks,” “The Plain Sense of Things,” “The River of Rivers in Connecticut,” “Not Ideas about the Thing but the Thing Itself,” “As You Leave the Room,” “Of Mere Being”  
  • and select 1 of the following: “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction,” “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven,” “The  Auroras of Autumn”

 14. Mina Loy (1882 – 1966), “Songs to Joannes,” “Poe,” “Apology of Genius,” “Lunar Baedeker,” “Der Blinde Junge,” “Brancusi’s Golden Bird,” “Gertrude Stein,” “On Third Avenue”

15. Williams, William Carlos (1883-1963), Paterson and Spring and All; or Spring and All and “The Young Housewife,” “Pastoral,” “Spring Strains,” “Romance Moderne,” “Queen-Anne’s-Lace”, “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” “The Yachts,” “Flowers by the Sea,” “The Last Words of My English Grandmother”  “Poem (As the Cat)” “Young Sycamore” “The Red Wheelbarrow” “Della Primavera Trasportata al Morale,” “Two Pendants: For the Ears”


16. Pound, Ezra (1885-1972):

  • choose 8 of the following: "The Seafarer," "The Return," "Portrait d'une Femme," "A Pact," "The Garden," "In a Station of the Metro," "Liu Ch'e," "The Study in Aesthetics," "Papyrus," "The River Song," "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter," "Exile's Letter"; up to 2 sections from “Homage to Sextus Propertius” (each “Propertius” section you include counts as 1 poem in your list of 8)
  • and choose 4 of the following: "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (Life and Contacts)"; Cantos: I, II, IV, XIII, XLIX, LXXIV, LXXVI, LXXXIII

17. H.D. (1886-1961), “Orchard,” “Oread,” “Sea Rose,” “Mid-Day,” “Evening,” “Garden,” “Sea Violet,” “Sea Poppies,” “Storm,” “Sea Iris,” “The Pool,” “Hippolytus Temporizes,” “Fragment 113,” “At Baia,” “Song,” “The Whole White World,” “Egypt,” “Helen,” “Lethe,” “Trance,” “Birds in Snow,” “Epitaph,” “The Mysteries”


18. Moore, Marianne (1887-1972), “Peter” [both versions: from Complete Poems and from Collected Poems (1951)] “Poetry” (first and last versions), “A Grave” “What Are Years?”, “The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing,” “Marriage,” “Octopus,” “Black Earth,” “The Fish,” “The Pangolin, “The Frigate Pelican,” “The Monkeys, “To a Steam Roller,” “To a Snail”


19. Robinson Jeffers (1887 – 1962), “Salmon Fishing,” “Shine, Perishing Republic,” “Granite and Cypress,” “Birds,” “Haunted Country,” “Apology for Bad Dreams,” “Hurt Hawks,” “Tor House,” “The Bed by the Window,” “The Place for No Story,” “Love the Wilde Swan,” “Rock and Hawk,” “Prescription of Painful Ends,” “For Una,” “Advice to Pilgrims,” “Cassandra,” “Animals,” “The Beauty of Things,” “Carmel Point,” “The Deer Lay Down Their Bones,” “Vulture,”


20. Eliot, T.S. (1888-1965)

  • "The Waste Land"
  • and: choose 3 of the following: "Portrait of a Lady," "Preludes," "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," "Gerontion," "The Hollow Men," "Ash Wednesday," “The Journey of the Magi,” "Burnt Norton," "The Dry Salvages”
  • and: "Tradition and the Individual Talent"

21. Claude McKay (1890 – 1948), “The Lynching,” “The Harlem Dancer,” “The Castaways,” “The Tropics in New York,” “Harlem Shadows,” “If We Must Die,” “The White City,” “Dawn in New York,” “ Africa,” “Outcast,” “Birds of Prey,” “Subway Wind,” “Jasmines,” “Negro Spiritual”


22. Cain, James (1892-1977), Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice or Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), The Maltese Falcon


23. Faulkner, William (1892-1962), “That Evening Sun,” “A Rose for Emily,” and either Absalom! Absalom! or The Sound and The Fury


24. Gold, Michael (1893-1967), Jews Without Money or Henry Roth (1906-1995), Call it Sleep


25. Toomer, Jean (1894-1967), Cane


26. Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1896-1940), The Great Gatsby and either This Side of Paradise or Tender is the Night [TN:why 2 novels as 1 entry?]


27. Hemingway, Ernest (1899-1961), select 1: In Our Time, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms


28. Film: 1896-1945: choose 5:


  • Edwin S. Porter, “The Great Train Robbery” (1903), and D.W. Griffith, The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)
  • Cecil B. DeMille, The Cheat (1915)
  • D. W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation and Oscar Micheaux, Within Our Gates (1920)
  • Lois Weber, The Blot (1921) or Too Wise Wives (1921)
  • Robert Flaherty, Nanook of the North (1922)
  • Erich Von Stroheim, Greed (1924)
  • Charles Chaplin, The Gold Rush (1925) or Buster Keaton, The General (1926)
  • F. W. Murnau, Sunrise (1927)
  • King Vidor, The Crowd (1928)
  • James Whale, Frankenstein (1931)
  • Howard Hawks, Scarface (1932)
  • Mervyn Leroy, The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
  • Frank Capra, It Happened One Night (1934)
  • King Vidor, Stella Dallas (1937)
  • John Ford, Stagecoach (1939)
  • Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941)
  • John Huston, The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca (1940) or Shadow of a Doubt (1942) or Spellbound (1945)
  • Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity (1944)
  • Michael Curtiz, Mildred Pierce (1945)




Post-1945 American Literature and Film

select 3-5

(19c British, 19C American, American 1800-1890, American 1890-1945, American 1945-present = 20)


  1. Nabokov, Vladimir (1899-1977), Lolita (1955) or Pale Fire (1962)
  2. Bishop, Elizabeth (1911-1979), “In the Waiting Room,” “Crusoe in England,” “The Armadillo,” “At the Fishhouses,” “The Man Moth,” “Filling Station,” “Arrival at Santos,” “Sleeping Standing Up,” “Florida,” “Song for the Rainy Season,” “Sestina,” “First Death in Nova Scotia,” “The End of March,” “One Art, “The Fish”
  3. Ellison, Ralph (1914-1994), Invisible Man (1952)
  4. Brooks, Gwendolyn (1917 - 2000), “We Real Cool,” “Kitchenette Building,” “A Song in the Front Yard,” “The Bean Eaters,” “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon,” “The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till,” “The Mother,” “The Sermon on the Warpland,” “To the Diaspora,” “An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire”
  5. Mailer, Norman (1923-2007), The Naked and the Dead (1948) or Armies of the Night (1968) or Didion, Joan (1934-), Slouching Toward Bethlehem (1968) or The White Album (1979)
  6. Baldwin, James (1924-1987), Giovanni’s Room (1956) or The Fire Next Time (1963)
  7. Villarreal, José Antonio (1924-2010), Pocho (1959) or Thomas, Piri (1928–2011), Down These Mean Streets (1967)
  8. O’Hara, Frank (1926-1966), “Easter,” “To the Harbormaster,” “A Step Away from Them,” “A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island,” “Berdie,” “The Day Lady Died,” “You Are Gorgeous and I’m Coming,” “Naphtha,” “Poem (Krushchev is coming on the right day!),” “Sudden Snow,” “Avenue A,” “Having a Coke with You,” “Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!),” “Why I Am Not a Painter,” “Ave Maria”
  9. Creeley, Robert (1926–2005), “The Language,” “I Know a Man,” “For Love,” “The Whip,” “Air: The Love of a Woman,” “The Innocence,” “The Crisis,” “America,” “After Frost,” “For the Graduation [Bolinas School, June 11, 1971]”
  10. Ashbery, John (1927-), “Some Trees,” “The Instruction Manual,” “How Much Longer Shall I Be Able to Inhabit the Divine Sepulcher,” “They Dream Only of America,” “Leaving the Atocha Station,” “These Lacustrine Cities,” “Rivers and Mountains,” “Paradoxes and Oxymorons,” “Like a Sentence”; or Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975)
  11. Le Guin, Ursula K. (1929–2018), The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) or The Dispossessed (1974)
  12. Morrison, Toni (1931-), Song of Solomon (1977), Beloved (1987), or Jazz (1992)
  13. McCarthy, Cormac (1933-), Blood Meridian (1985) or No Country for Old Men (2005)
  14. Momaday, N. Scott (1934-), House Made of Dawn (1968) or The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969)
  15. Baraka, Amiri (1934 – 2014), “Political Poem,” “Three Modes of History and Culture,” “The New World,” “Leadbelly Gives an Autograph,” “Ka ‘Ba,” “Kenyatta Listening to Mozart,” “Leroy,” “The Nation is Like Ourselves,” “AM/TRAK,” “Somebody Blew Up America”
  16. DeLillo, Don (1936-), White Noise (1985)
  17. Pynchon, Thomas (1937-), The Crying of Lot 49 (1965)
  18. Kingston, Maxine Hong (1940-), Woman Warrior (1975) or Tripmaster Monkey (1989)
  19. Mukherjee, Bharati (1940-2017), The Middleman and Other Stories (1988) or Lahiri, Jhumpa (1967-), The Interpreter of Maladies (1999)
  20. Anzaldua, Gloria (1942-), Borderlands/La Frontera (1987)
  21. Notley, Alice (1945-), “Poem,” “Jack Would Speak through the Imperfect Medium of Alice,” “A California Girlhood,” “How Spring Comes,” “Clinical Thermometer Set with Moonstone,” “30th Birthday,” “The Ten Best Issues of Comic Books,” “At Night the States,” “I the People,” “White Phosphorous”
  22. Silko, Leslie Marmon (1948-), Ceremony (1977)
  23. Alvarez, Julia (1950–), How the García Girls Lost their Accents (1991) or Yo! (1997)
  24. Harryette Mullen (1953–), Muse and Drudge (1995)
  25. Erdrich, Louise (1954-) Love Medicine (1984)
  26. Egan, Jennifer (1962–), A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
  27. Lee, Chang Rae (1965-), Native Speaker (1995)
  28. Díaz, Junot (1968-), Drown (1999) or The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2008)
  29. Cole, Teju (1975-), Open City (2012) or Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (1977–), Americanah (2013)
  30. Drama (choose 5 plays by any of these authors): Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, David Mamet, August Wilson, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, David Henry Hwang, Lorraine Hansberry, Frank Chin, Luis Valdez, Cherrie Moraga, Edward Albee, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tony Kushner, Lin-Manuel Miranda
  31. Film (choose 5 films from the following list):
    1. William Wyler, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
    2. Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard (1950) or Jacques Tourneur, Out of the Past (1947)
    3. Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
    4. Ida Lupino, The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
    5. Douglas Sirk, All That Heaven Allows (1955)
    6. Don Siegel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
    7. John Ford, The Searchers (1956) and Jeff Spitz and Bennie Klain, The Return of Navajo Boy (2000)
    8. Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho (1960)
    9. Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove (1964) or 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    10. Arthur Penn, Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
    11. Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch (1969)
    12. Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (1972)
    13. Roman Polanski, Chinatown (1974)
    14. Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976)
    15. Luis Valdez, Zoot Suit (1981)
    16. Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982)
    17. David Lynch, Blue Velvet (1986)
    18. Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing (1989)
    19. Julie Dash, Daughters of the Dust (1991)
    20. Chris Eyre, Smoke Signals (1998)


20th and 21st Century Global Anglophone Literature

select 4


Optional: Students may choose to pursue a regional emphasis in the Global Anglophone portion of the exam by making their 4 selections from one geographical area. Those who do this may substitute 1 of their 4 selections with a relevant work in translation from the World Literature in Translation list. This substitution is in service of situating the listed Global Anglophone literatures from postcolonial regions in relation to vernacular literary traditions from those regions.




1. Chinua Achebe (1930-2013), Things Fall Apart (1958), A Man of the People (1966), or Selected Poems


2. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (1938-), Weep Not, Child (1964)


3. Ayi Kwei Armah (1939-), The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born (1968)


4. Wole Soyinka, (1934-), The Interpreters (1964), Of Africa (2012), or a selection of plays


5. Buchi Emecheta (1944-2017), The Joys of Motherhood (1979)


6. Tsitsi  Dangarembga (1959-), Nervous Conditions, (1988)


7. Ben Okri (1959-), The Famished Road (1991)


8. Nuruddin Farah (1945-), Gifts (1993)


9. Ama Ata Aidoo (1942-), two plays: Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa (1995)


10. Chris Abani (1966-), Grace Land (2004)


11. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Kintu (2014)


South Africa


12. Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014), Selected stories or Burger’s Daughter (1979)


13. Bessie Head (1937-1986), Maru (1971) or A Question of Power (1973)


14. J. M. Coetzee (1940-), Foe (1986) or Disgrace (1999)


15. Zakes Mda (1948-), Ways of Dying (1995)



Australia/New Zealand:


16. Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), The Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield (1937)


17. David Malouf (1934-), An Imaginary Life (1978)


18. Sally Morgan (1951-), My Place (1987)


19. Dorothy Hewett (1923-2002), A Tremendous World in Her Head: Selected Poems (1989), or a selection of her plays


20. Brian Castro (1950-), After China (1992)




21. Robertson Davies (1913-1995), Fifth Business (1970)


22. Alice Munro (1931-), Lives of Girls and Women (1971)


23. Margaret Atwood (1939-), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) or Cat’s Eye (1988)


24. Dionne Brand (1953-), No Language is Neutral (1990) or Ossuaries (2010)


25. Michael Ondaatje (1943), In the Skin of a Lion (1987) or The English Patient (1992)


26. Thomas King (1943-), Green Grass, Running Water (1993)


27. Anne Carson (1950-), Autobiography of Red (1998) or Decreation (2005)




28. C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Minty Alley (1936)


29. V.S. Naipaul (1932-), A House for Mr. Biswas (1961), The Mimic Men (1967), or Guerrillas (1975)


30. Jean Rhys (1890-1979), Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)


31. Jamaica Kincaid (1949-), A Small Place (1988)


32. Derek Walcott (1930-), Omeros (1990), the play Dream on Monkey Mountain (1970) or Selected Poems (2007)


33. Kamau Braithwaite (1930-), Born to Slow Horses (2005, poetry)


34. George Lamming (1927-), In the Castle of my Skin (1953) or The Emigrants (1954)


35. Samuel Selvon (1923-1994), The Lonely Londoners (1956)


South Asia:


36. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Gitanjali (1910, poetry) or The Home and the World (1908)


37. Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004), Untouchable (1935), Raja Rao, Kanthapura (1938), or R.K. Narayan, Waiting for the Mahatma (1955)


38. Salman Rushdie (1947-), Midnight's Children (1981)


39. Arundhati Roy (1961-), The God of Small Things (1997)


40. Amitav Ghosh (1956-), Sea of Poppies (2008)


41. Mohsin Hamid, Moth Smoke (2000) or Mohammed Hanif, A Case of Exploding Mangoes (2008)


42. Tahmima Anam, A Golden Age (2008) or Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know (2014)





20th and 21st Century World Literature in Translation


Optional: In order to situate the listed Global Anglophone literatures from postcolonial regions in relation to vernacular literary traditions from those regions, students may substitute 1 of their 4 selections with a relevant work in translation from this list. Students who pursue a regional emphasis in the Global Anglophone portion of the exam may particularly benefit from such a substitution.




1. Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006), Palace Walk (1956) or Children of Gebelawi (1959) (Egypt, trans. from Arabic)


2. Tayeb Salih (1929-2009), Season of Migration to the North (1966) (Sudan, trans. from Arabic)


3. Mariama Bâ (1929-1981), So Long a Letter (1979) (Senegal, trans. from French)


4. Assia Djebar (1936-2015), Women of Algiers in their Apartment (1980) (Algeria, trans. from French)


5. Marlene van Niekerk (1954-), Agaat (2010) (South Africa, trans. from Afrikaans)




6. Nicole Brossard (1943-), White Piano (2013, trans from French)


7. Catherine Leroux (1979-), The Party Wall (2016, trans from French)




8. Aimé Césaire, (1913-2008), Notebook of a Return to the Native Land (1939) and Discourse on Colonialism (1955) (Martinique, trans. from French)


9. Patrick Chamoiseau (1953-), Texaco (1992, trans from French)


South Asia:


10. Premchand, “The Chess Players” (1924, trans. from Hindi), Saadat Hasan Manto, “Toba Tek Singh” (1955, trans. from Urdu), and Mahashweta Devi, “Arjun” (1984, trans. from Bengali)


11. U.R. Ananthamurthy, Samskara (1976 trans. by AK Ramanujan, trans. from Kannada)


12. Girish Karnad, Three Plays: Naga-Mandala; Hayavadana; Tughlaq (1994 trans. from Kannada)


13. Intizar Husain, Basti (1979, trans from Urdu)


14. Kamala Suraya, Ente Katha (1973, trans from Malayalam by the author as “My Story”)


15. Benyamin, Aadujeevitham (2008, trans from Malayalam as “Goat Days”)


16. Vivek Shanbhag, Ghachar Ghochar (2017, trans from Kannada)






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