MA Exam Reading List (for students matriculating 2021 and after)


Although the English-speaking world and its cultural productions have always been diverse, in some periods of history, access to literacy and publication were the preserve of racial, ethnic and economic elites–often men. Such texts can nevertheless yield insights into contemporary disciplinary concerns such as race and gender, as they show how identity categories have been constructed, imposed and contested through language, literary form, character, etc. We encourage students to situate the texts on this list in the context of a wider range of voices whose literary works are lost or inaccessible, and to think about how the literary canon has been formed and who is left out. And we also welcome approaches that attend to the complicated afterlives of the texts as they have been critiqued, analyzed, reimagined and adapted by readers and writers who do not share the backgrounds of their original authors.




1. Unknown Beowulf: A New Verse Translation Norton (Bilin)
2. Chaucer Canterbury Tales Norton Critical
3. Spenser The Faerie Queene, Book I Longman, ed.
4. Shakespeare Othello & Twelfth Night Lear: Pelican;
5. Cavendish The Blazing World Penguin, ed. L
6. Marvell Complete Poems Longman, ed.
7. Milton Paradise Lost Merritt Hughes
8. Defoe Robinson Crusoe Oxford, E.d, K
9. Wordsworth The Prelude (1805) Norton
10. Austen Emma Oxford
11. Whitman The Leaves of Grass (1855) Dover Thrift
12. Melville Moby-Dick Norton, ed. Pa
13. Rowlandson The Narrative of the Captivity Norton, Full 5
14. Eliot Middlemarch Oxford
15. Woolf To the Lighthouse Norton
16. Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop Vintage
17. Thiong’O In the House of the Interpreter Anchor
18. Bishop Geography III: Poems Farrar, Straus
19. Butler Parable of the Sower Grand central
20. Naipaul A Bend in the River Picador
21. Bolano The Savage Detectives Picador

* If a student wishes to answer questions about the films, she/he must petition the Graduate Committee by the end of the second semester of study.

22. Sunrise*
F. W. Murnau, 1927
23. Intolerance*
D. W. Griffith, 1916
24. Notorious*
Alfred Hitchcock, 1946
25. Under the Skin*
Jonathan Glazer, 2013
26. At Land*
Maya Deren, 1946