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MA Orals List -- American Literature

MA Orals Reading List -- American Literature

(revised fall 2007)

 

After you have decided on a period (American Literature to 1865, American Literature 1800-1912, or American Literature since 1855), choose ten of the numbered selections from that period's list. Your choices should reflect both the chronological and generic range within the period. At the same time, your selections should be guided by some principle of organization; this can simply be to discuss the traditionally canonical works, but you can also choose to emphasize some particular area of interest (such as a genre or a literary movement within your period; African-American issues; women authors; popular literature; and so on). After you have made your preliminary choices, you should consult with one of the members of the American Area Committee. He or she will approve your list and help you decide on two critical works suggested by the list below and reflecting your period as well as particular interests.

American Literature to 1865

  1. Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation
  2. Bradstreet
    • "The Prologue"
    • "Contemplations"
    • "The Flesh and the Spirit"
    • "Before the Birth of One of Her Children"
    • "To My Dear and Loving Husband"
    • "In Reference to Her Children"
    • "Upon the Burning of Our House"
    • "To My Dear Children"
  3. Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana (Book I; Lives of Bradford, Winthrop, Phips)
  4. Taylor
  5. "Sacramental Meditations" Series 1, numbers 1-12; Series 2, numbers 6 and 12
  6. "God's Determinations Touching His Elect"
  7. "Huswifery"
  8. Byrd, History of the Dividing Line
  9. "Personal Narrative"
  10. "Narrative of the Surprising Conversions"
  11. "The Nature of True Virtue"
  12. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
  13. "A Divine and Supernatural Light"
  14. Edwards
  15. The Autobiography
  16. "The Way to Wealth"
  17. Woolman, Journal of John Woolman
  18. Franklin
  19. Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
  20. Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer
  21. Ashbridge, An Account of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge
  22. The Federalist (numbers 1-10)
  23. "Rip Van Winkle"
  24. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
  25. A History of New York, By Diedrich Knickerbocker
  26. Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, The Autobiography
  27. "The Philosophy of Composition"
  28. "The Poetic Principle"
  29. "The Pit and the Pendulum"
  30. "The Fall of the House of Usher"
  31. "Ligeia"
  32. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"
  33. "The Purloined Letter"
  34. "The Masque of the Red Death"
  35. Nature
  36. "The American Scholar"
  37. "The Divinity School Address"
  38. "Self-Reliance"
  39. "The Poet"
  40. "Napoleon, or The Man of the World"
  41. "Montaigne, or The Skeptic"
  42. "Each and All"
  43. "Concord Hymn"
  44. Hamatreya"
  45. "Days"
  46. "The Problem"
  47. Walden
  48. "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"
  49. The Scarlet Letter or "Tales of the Province House"
  50. "Young Goodman Brown"
  51. "My Kinsman, Major Molineux"
  52. "The Birthmark"
  53. "The Artist of the Beautiful"
  54. "The Minister's Black Veil"
  55. "Roger Malvin's Burial"
  56. Moby-Dick or "Bartleby the Scrivener"
  57. "Benito Cereno"
  58. "The Encantadas"
  59. "Billy Budd"
  60. Brown, Wieland
  61. Irving
  62. Cooper, The Pioneers or The Pilot or Satanstoe
  63. Poe
  64. Emerson
  65. Thoreau
  66. Hawthorne
  67. Leaves of Grass, 1855 edition, or Leaves of Grass, 1860 edition
  68. Drum Taps
  69. Memories of President Lincoln
  70. Melville
  71. Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  72. Linda Brent, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  73. Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African
  74. Lee, The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee
  75. Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
  76. Brown, Clotel
  77. Prescott, The Conquest of Mexico
  78. Whitman

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American Literature 1800-1912

  1. C. B. Brown, Wieland or Edgar Huntly
  2. Irving, The Sketch-Book
  3. Cooper, The Pioneers or The Last of the Mohicans
  4. Bryant
    • "Thanatopsis"
    • "Inscription for an Entrance to a Wood"
    • "To a Waterfowl"
  5. Longfellow
  6. "A Psalm to Life"
  7. "The Village Blacksmith"
  8. "My Lost Youth"
  9. "The Cross of Snow"
  10. "Massachusetts to Virginia"
  11. "Maud Muller"
  12. Snow-Bound
  13. "Old Ironsides,"
  14. "The Chambered Nautilus"
  15. Whittier
  16. Nature
  17. "The American Scholar"
  18. "The Divinity School Address"
  19. "Self-Reliance"
  20. "Experience"
  21. "The Poet"
  22. two to four additional essays or poems
  23. "The Philosophy of Composition"
  24. "The Poetic Principle"
  25. "The Fall of the House of Usher"
  26. "Ligeia"
  27. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"
  28. "The Pit and the Pendulum"
  29. "William Wilson"
  30. "The Tell-Tale Heart"
  31. four additional tales or poems
  32. The Scarlet Letter (with "The Custom-House") or "My Kinsman, Major Molineux"
  33. "Young Goodman Brown"
  34. "The Minister's Black Veil"
  35. "The Birthmark"
  36. "The Artist of the Beautiful"
  37. "Rappaccini's Daughter"
  38. "Ethan Brand"
  39. two to four additional tales
  40. Holmes
  41. Lowell, A Fable for Critics
  42. Emerson
  43. Poe
  44. Hawthorne
  45. Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  46. Thoreau, Walden
  47. Melville, Moby-Dick
  48. Prescott, The Conquest of Mexico
  49. Parkman, LaSalle and the Discovery of the Great West or Montcalm and Wolfe
  50. Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  51. The Portrait of a Lady or "Daisy Miller"
  52. "The Aspern Papers"
  53. "The Real Thing"
  54. "The Turn of the Screw"
  55. "The Beast in the Jungle"
  56. two additional tales
  57. Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
  58. W. W. Brown, Clotel
  59. Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855 edition, or Leaves of Grass, 1892 edition
  60. Dickinson, a selection of thirty-five to forty representative poems
  61. Cable, The Grandissimes
  62. Sport of the Gods
  63. six to ten selected poems
  64. James
  65. The Red Badge of Courage
  66. "The Open Boat"
  67. "The Blue Hotel"
  68. Howells, A Modern Instance or The Rise of Silas Lapham
  69. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  70. Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs
  71. Chopin, The Awakening
  72. Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman
  73. Dunbar
  74. Wharton, The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence
  75. Crane
  76. Dreiser, Sister Carrie
  77. Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
  78. Robinson, Captain Craig and Other Poems or a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  79. Frost, North of Boston
  80. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
  81. Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

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American Literature since 1855

  1. Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855 edition, or Leaves of Grass, 1892 edition
  2. Dickinson, a selection of thirty-five to forty representative poems
  3. Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Life on the Mississippi
  4. James, The Portrait of a Lady or The Ambassadors
  5. Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham
  6. Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman
  7. Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs
  8. Crane , The Red Badge of  Courage
  9. Dreiser, Sister Carrie
  10. Robinson, Captain Craig and Other Poems, or a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  11. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
  12. Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
  13. Chopin, The Awakening
  14. Frost, North of Boston
  15. Stein, Three Lives
  16. Pound, Personae, or a sequence of  ten to fourteen selected cantos
  17. Stevens, Harmonium
  18. Eliot, Selected Poems 1910-1935
  19. Williams, Al Que Quiere! or Paterson
  20. Hughes, a selection of  twenty-five representative poems
  21. Cather, My Antonia
  22. Toomer, Cane
  23. O'Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night
  24. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  25. Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises or In Our Time
  26. Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury or Light in August or Absalom, Absalom!
  27. Moore, Selected Poems (1935)
  28. Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  29. Dos Passos, one novel from the U.S.A. trilogy
  30. Miller, Tropic of Capricorn
  31. Wright, Uncle Tom's Children or Native Son
  32. Brooks, a selection of twenty to twenty-five representative poems
  33. Tolson, Harlem Gallery
  34. Hayden, a selection of twenty to twenty-five representative poems
  35. Larsen, Passing and Quicksand
  36. Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men or A Death in the Family
  37. Ellison, Invisible Man
  38. Roethke, a selection of  twenty-five representative poems
  39. Bishop, a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  40. Berryman, a selection of  twenty-five representative poems
  41. Lowell, Lord Weary's Castle or Life Studies
  42. Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
  43. Miller, Death of a Salesman
  44. O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find
  45. Nabokov, Lolita or Pale Fire
  46. Ginsberg, Howl
  47. Bellow, Henderson the Rain King
  48. Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
  49. Updike, Rabbit, Run
  50. Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  51. Plath, Ariel
  52. Baraka, Dutchman or twenty-five representative poems
  53. Pynchon, Crying of Lot 49 or Gravity’s Rainbow or Vineland
  54. Shepard, Buried Child
  55. Silko, Ceremony
  56. Delillo, White Noise or Underworld
  57. Morrison, Sula or Beloved
  58. Wilson, Fences
  59. McCarthy, Blood Meridian
  60. Kingston, The Woman Warrior
  61. Roth, American Pastoral or The Human Stain
  62. Ammons, Sphere: The Form of a Motion or a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  63. Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror or a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  64. Merwin, The Lice or a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  65. Rich, Diving into the Wreck or a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  66. Howe, a selection of twenty-five representative poems
  67. Bernstein, a selection of twenty-five representative poems

 

Recommended Critical Works

 

Sacvan Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad

Phillip Gura, A Glimpse of Sion's Glory: Puritan Racicalism in New England 1620-1660

Jill Lepore: In The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity

Michael Warner, Letters of the Republic

Laurel Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale

Jay Fliegelman, Prodigals and Pilgrims:The American Revolution Against Patriarchal Authority

Cathy Davidson, Revolution and the Word

Julia Stern, The Plight of Feeling: Sympathy and Dissent in the Early American Novel

Richard Brodhead, Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in 19th-Century America

Anna Brickhouse, Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere.

Philip Fisher, Hard Facts: Setting and Form in the American Novel

Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860

Stephen Railton, Authorship and Audience: Literary Performance in the American Renaissance

Deborah McDowell and Arnold Rampersad, Slavery and the Literary Imagination

Eric Lott, Love and Theft

Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Touching Liberty: Abolition, Feminism, and the Politics of the Body

Joseph Roach, Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance

Cheryl Walker, Indian Nation: Native American Literature

Paul Gilroy, Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness

Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America

Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace

Donald Pizer, Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature 



Eric Sundquist, To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature

Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease, Cultures of U.S. Imperialism

Henry Louis Gates, The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism

Walter Benn Michaels, Our America: Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism

Marjorie Perloff, The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition.

Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian-American Cultural Politics

Wai-Chee Dimock, Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time