Contact Information

Armitage Hall, Fourth Floor
311 N. Fifth St.
Camden NJ 08102
Phone: (856) 225-6121
Fax: (856) 225-2873
Email the department

Twitter

Student Spotlight

We R Rutgers-Camden: Gina Black

Gina Black"Rutgers-Camden has given me numerous opportunities to grow into a stronger, more knowledgeable student leader." Read more ...

Selected Faculty Books

Department of English » M.A. in English » Exam and Reading List

Exam and Reading List

In Effect for Students Enrolled Fall 2012 and After

M.A. Candidacy Exam Guidelines and Reading List

The Master’s Candidacy Examination is based on the following reading list of works that represent the major genres, periods and authors of these literatures. The student is expected to be familiar with all of the works, including the critical works, in two of the listed subject areas, unless submitting a thesis, and to be able to place and discuss the works in critical and historical contexts.

The examination consists of a morning and an afternoon session, each lasting three hours. Each session is devoted to a particular subject area and consists of two parts: brief passages chosen from works on the reading list and an essay. Each passage represents a significant moment in the text from which it is taken, or one that is characteristic of its author’s thought or literary style. The student is asked to identify the passages by author and title, and to explain why the passages are significant in terms of the work as a whole and in terms of the literary historical period in question. The essay portion of the exam asks the student to refer to specific works, usually three or four, from the list.

Students who write a scholarly thesis may likewise be responsible for one, rather than two, subject areas. However, the area must be a different one than the area covered in the thesis.

After completing ten courses or while enrolled in the tenth course (one of which is Introduction to Graduate Literary), a student may sit for the M.A. Candidacy Exam. The student will notify the Graduate Director of his/her intention no later than the second week of the semester in which the student will take the exam, and will indicate the two subject areas in which he or she desires to be examined.

Candidacy Exam List (PDF Download)

Note: PDF files of selected titles are available under Resources on the MA Program sakai site. Please check these files for hard-to-find titles and recommended translations or editions.

https://sakai.rutgers.edu/portal/site/6ff268a6-3c91-4667-84dc-c60aa508cf87

Subject Areas

Literatures in English shall be divided into the following subject areas:

  1. Medieval-Renaissance (to c. 1640)
  2. Transatlantic British & American (c. 1640-c. 1800)
  3. Nineteenth Century (Romantic, Victorian, & American)
  4. Twentieth Century – present (Modernist & post-colonial)
  5. Specialized Studies (the specialized list may focus on such areas as Criticism and Critical Theory, Rhetoric, Media Studies, Linguistics, Childhood Studies, etc.)

Subject areas I-IV are fixed lists. A student must take one exam from subject areas I or II and one from subject areas III or IV. Alternatively, a candidate may take an exam on one of these lists (I-IV) and develop a list in Specialized Studies subject area V (which must not overlap with the category in which the student is taking an exam) under the supervision of a professor with whom the student has previously worked. The student selecting subject area V may fulfill the requirement either by examination or by a thesis.

Procedure for Examination in Specialized Studies

After completing five courses (one of which is Introduction to Graduate Literary Study), a student will be eligible to propose a specialized area of study.

If the proposal is approved, the student will be examined on reading list in the specialized area of study and on the list of works in one of the subject areas I-IV.

  • The student will identify a faculty advisor and propose in writing to be examined on a specialized list in the area of the faculty member’s area of expertise. This should occur as early as possible after completion of the fifth course, but not later than the close of the semester prior to taking the examination.
  • The faculty advisor will draw up a reading list of approximately 15-20 literary works, taking into account student interest. The works will represent material beyond that read in courses that the student has taken. A “work” is defined as a discrete text, or group of texts in the case of short poems, essays, or stories. The reading list will focus on a clearly defined topic of a historical, generic, thematic, or critical nature. The list will also include at least 3 works of literary criticism or theory that pertain to the literary selections.
  • The student will submit the list to the faculty advisor, who will forward it to the Graduate Director for approval, by end of the second week of the semester in which the student plans to take the exam. The student must also arrange for a second reader.
  • The Graduate Director will approve the proposal for the specialized list based on GPA (normally 3.65 or higher), the quality of the proposal, and the recommendation of the faculty advisor who will supervise the project.
  • Students may choose to work collaboratively to construct a reading list in a specialized subject area, in which case the group will be examined on the same list.

Candidacy Exam List


In Effect for Students Enrolled Prior to Fall 2012

M.A. Comprehensive Exam Guidelines and Reading List

The Master’s Comprehensive Examination is based on the following reading list of works that represent the major genres, periods and authors of these literatures. The student is expected to be familiar with all of the works in two of the listed subject areas, unless submitting a thesis, and to be able to place and discuss the works in critical and historical contexts. A selection of standard works on criticism and literary history is appended to the reading list, though the student will not be examined on these works specifically.

The examination consists of a morning and an afternoon session, each lasting three hours. Each session is devoted to a particular subject area and consists of two parts: brief passages chosen from works on the reading list and an essay. Each passage represents a significant moment in the text from which it is taken, or one that is characteristic of its author’s thought or literary style. The student is asked to identify the passages by author and title, and to explain why the passages are significant in terms of the work as a whole and in terms of the literary historical period in question. The essay portion of the exam asks the student to refer to at least four works from the period.

Students who write a scholarly thesis may likewise be responsible for one, rather than two, subject areas. However, the area must be a different one than the area covered in the thesis.

Students must inform the Graduate Director of their intention to take the exam at least one month prior to the exam date. At this time, they must identify the one or two periods on which they would like to be tested.

Comps List (PDF Download)

Major Subject Areas

  • Medieval & Renaissance
  • 17th & 18th Century British Literature
  • Romantic and Victorian Literature
  • American Literature (Colonial to 1900)
  • 20th Century Literature
  • Literary Criticism

Supplemental List of Historical and Critical Reading

  • Bibliographies
  • Literary Histories
  • Literary Theory and Criticism

Major Subject Areas

I. Medieval and Renaissance (to 1640)

  1. Beowulf
  2. Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue; Prologues and Tales of the Knight; Miller; Wife of Bath; Merchant; Franklin
  3. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  4. The Second Shepherds’ Play
  5. More, Utopia
  6. Sidney, Apologie for Poesie
  7. Marlowe, Dr. Faustus
  8. Jonson, Volpone
  9. Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Bk. I
  10. Shakespeare, Hamlet; King Lear; The Tempest; Henry V; Twelfth Night; Measure for Measure
  11. Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
  12. 10. Donne, “Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star”; “The Sun Rising”; “The Indifferent”; “The Flea”; “The Canonization”; “A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning”; “The Ecstasy”; “Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward”; “Hymne to God my God, in My Sickness”; the following Holy Sonnets: “Batter My Heart”; “I Am a Little World”; “Since She Whom I Lov’d”; “Death Be Not Proud.”
  13. Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”

II. 17th and 18th Centuries

  1. Milton, Paradise Lost
  2. Wycherley, The Country Wife
  3. Dryden, All for Love
  4. Behn, Oroonoko
  5. Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”; “Eloisa to Abelard”; “An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot”; “An Essay on Criticism”
  6. Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
  7. Swift, “A Modest Proposal”; Gulliver’s Travels
  8. Gay, The Beggar’s Opera
  9. Fielding, Tom Jones
  10. Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer
  11. Burney, Evelina
  12. Austen, Emma

III. Romantic and Victorian

  1. Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
  2. Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads, including the 1802 Preface; “Michael”; “Resolution and Independence”; “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”
  3. Coleridge, “The Eolian Harp”; “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”; “Kubla Khan”; “Christabel”; “Frost at Midnight”; “Dejection: An Ode”
  4. Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto 3; Don Juan, Canto 1
  5. P. Shelley, “Mont Blanc”; “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”; “Ode to the West Wind”; “Adonais”;”To a Skylark”; “Ozymandias”
  6. Keats, “The Eve of St. Agnes”; “To a Nightingale”; “Ode on a Grecian Urn”; “Ode on Melancholy”; “The Fall of Hyperion”; “To Autumn”
  7. M. Shelley, Frankenstein
  8. Tennyson, “Ulysses”; In Memoriam, A.H.H.
  9. Browning, “My Last Duchess”; “Meeting at Night”; “Parting at Morning”; “The Bishop Orders His Tomb”; “Fra Lippo Lippi”; “Andrea Del Sarto”
  10. Dickens, Hard Times
  11. E. Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  12. G. Eliot, The Mill on the Floss
  13. Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

IV. American Literature, Colonial – 1900

  1. Bradstreet, “The Prologue”; “To Her Father with Some Verses”; “The Author to Her Book”; “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, 23 June, 1659”; “In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet”; “Upon the Burning of Our House”
  2. Rowlandson, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
  3. Franklin, The Autobiography
  4. Emerson, Nature; The American Scholar
  5. Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
  6. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.
  7. Melville, Moby Dick.
  8. Thoreau, Walden, Chapters 1,2,7,11,16-18.
  9. Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century
  10. Whitman, Preface to the 1855 Edition of Leaves of Grass; “Song of Myself”; “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”; “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”; Democratic Vistas.
  11. Dickinson, “I felt a funeral, in my Brain” (P280); “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church-” (P324); “After great pain, a formal feeling comes” (P341); “This was a Poet-It is That” (448); “I heard a Fly buzz-when I died-” (P465); “Because I could not stop For Death-” (P712); “She rose to His Requirement-dropt” (732); “My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun-” (P754); “Title divine-is Mine!” (P1072); “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant-” (P1129)
  12. Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  13. James, Portrait of a Lady.
  14. Chopin, The Awakening

V. 20th Century Literature

  1. Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  2. Wharton, The House of Mirth.
  3. Joyce, Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man.
  4. Woolf, To the Lighthouse; A Room of One’s Own.
  5. Yeats, “Among School Children”; “Sailing to Byzantium”; “The Magi”; “Leda and the Swan”; “Easter 1916″; “The Second Coming”; “Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop”; “Lapis Lazuli”; “The Circus Animals’ Dersertion”.
  6. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”; The Waste Land.
  7. Frost, “Mowing”; “Mending Wall”; “Home Burial”; “After Apple-Picking”; “An Old Man’s Winter Night”; “The Oven Bird”; “Birches”; “Out, Out –”; “Design”; “Directive.”
  8. Stevens, “The Snow Man”; “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock”; “Sunday Morning”; “Peter Quince at the Clavier”; “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”; “The Idea of Order at Key West”; “Of Modern Poetry”; “Not Ideas about the Thing But the Thing Itself.”.
  9. Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”; “The Weary Blues”; “I, Too”; “Come to the Waldorf-Astoria”; “Goodbye Christ.”.
  10. Hemingway, “Big Two-Hearted River”; “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”; “Hills like White Elephants”; “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”; “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”.
  11. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.
  12. Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury.
  13. O’Neill, A Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
  14. Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
  15. Ellison, Invisible Man.
  16. Beckett, Waiting for Godot.

VI. Literary Criticism

  1. Plato, Republic, Book X.
  2. Aristotle, “Poetics.”
  3. Horace, “Ars Poetica.”
  4. Sidney, “An Apologie for Poesie.”
  5. Pope, “An Essay on Criticism.”
  6. Wordsworth, Preface (1802) to Lyrical Ballads.
  7. Poe, “The Poetic Principle.”
  8. Arnold, “The Study of Poetry.”
  9. James, “The Art of Fiction.”
  10. Freud, “Creative Writers and Daydreaming.”
  11. Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent.”
  12. Ransom, “Criticism, Inc.”
  13. De Beauvoir, The Second Sex.
  14. Derrida, Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.
  15. Eagleton, “Marxism and Literary Criticism.” .

Supplemental List of Historical and Critical Reading

The following list of standard works is offered to graduate students for reference in preparing for the Master’s Comprehensive Examination; these works will not themselves be the subject of the exam. The list is by no means exhaustive – students should ask course instructors for titles of critical and historical works in specialized areas.

I. Bibliographies

  1. Altick, Robert D., and Andrew Wright, eds. Selective Bibliography for the Study of English and American Literature. 6th ed., 1978.
  2. Bateson, F.W. A Guide to English Literature. 1965.
  3. Pickles, J.D., ed. New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. 1976.

II. Literary Histories

  1. Baugh, Albert C., et al. A Literary History of England. 2nd ed., 1967.
  2. Bercovitch, Sacvan. The Cambridge History of American Literature (1997).
  3. Burrow, John A. Medieval Writers and Their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background, 1100-1500. 1982.
  4. Elliott, Emory. Columbia Literary History of the United States (1988).
  5. Ford, Boris, ed. The Pelican Guide to English Literature. 1982 (7 vols.).
  6. M.A.R. Habib, A History of Literary Criticism and Theory: From Plato to the Present (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).
  7. Ward, A.W., and A.R. Waller, eds. Cambridge History of English Literature. 1907-1927 (14 vols.).
  8. Westbrook, Perry. Literary History of New England (1988).
  9. Wilson, F.P., and B. Dobree, eds. Oxford History of English Literature. 1945-63 (12 vols.).

III. Criticism and Theory

  1. Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. 1983.
  2. Selden, Raman, and Peter Widdowson. Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory and Criticism. 3rd ed., 1993.