Master of Arts Reading List

Core List

Students enrolled in CWL 896 (Directed Reading) must select and read thirty (30) works from the core list given below. Students must provide their committee chairperson with a list of the works selected at the beginning of the semester in which students enroll in CWL 896. The list they choose must satisfy the following distribution requirements:

  1. Genre: at least one but no more than eight works from each of the following genres: lyric, epic (includes romance/verse narrative), drama, prose non-fiction; at least one but no more than ten works from the genre of prose fiction
  2. Geography: at least one but no more than eight works from each of the following regions: Near East/Middle East, Europe, East Asia, South Asia, Africa, Non-English-Speaking Americas
  3. Time periods: at least one but no more than eight works from each of the following periods: beginnings to 100CE [period 1], 100-1500CE [period 2], 1500-1650 CE [period 3], 1650-1800 CE [period 4], 1800-1900 CE [period 5]. At least one but no more than ten from 1900-present [period 6].

Students may petition an advisor to allow some limited substitutions for the works and authors on the list below. Abridgements of some works may be permitted by the advisor. Works that cross boundaries of genre, time or geography may count toward either of the two categories.

View the printer-friendly version of the reading list (pdf).

In order to help ensure that your Core List meets the Distribution Requirements, please fill out the Reading List Worksheet (pdf).

Specialty Area

Please refer to The Oral Examination and CWL 896 (Directed Reading) page.

Near East/Middle East
Author Work Period Genre Language/Ethnic Tradition Date Suggestions for particular editions, translations, etc.
Anon. Gilgamesh 1 Epic Akkadian Ca. 26th-16th BCE trans. Foster (Norton) or trans. George (Penguin)
Anon. Tale of Sinuhe 1 Epic Egyptian Ca. 20th BCE  
Anon. Genesis AND Song of Songs AND Job 1 Mix of prose fiction/lyric Hebrew Ca. 11th-6th BCE  
Anon. 1001 Nights 2 Prose fiction Arabic 9th-14th CE trans. Haddawy (Norton)
Ferdowsi Shahnameh 2 Epic Persian 10th CE trans. Davis (Penguin) (abridged)
Khayyám Rubáiyát OR Hāfez Selected Poetry 2 Lyric Persian 10th/14th CE  
Çelebi Book of Travels 3 Prose non-fiction Turkish 17th CE  
Mahfouz Palace Walk OR Salih Season of Migration to the North 6 Prose fiction Egyptian/ Arabophone Sudanese 20th CE  
Kemal Memed, My Hawk OR Pamuk My Name is Red OR The White Castle 6 Prose fiction Turkish 20th CE  



Author Work Period Genre Language/Ethnic Tradition Date Suggestions for particular editions, translations, etc.
Homer Iliad OR Odyssey 1 Epic Greek 8th BCE  
Sappho Lyrics 1 Lyric Greek 7th-6th BCE  
Aeschylus Oresteia OR Sophocles Antigone OR Oedipus the King OR Euripides Medea OR Bacchae 1 Drama Greek 5th BCE  
Aristophanes Lysistrata OR Birds 1 Drama Greek 5th BCE  
Plato Symposium 1 Prose fiction Greek 4th BCE  
Aristotle Poetics 1 Prose non-fiction Greek 4th BCE  
Vergil Aeneid OR Ovid Metamorphoses 1 Epic Latin 1st BCE  
Augustine Confessions 2 Prose non-fiction Latin 4th CE  
Anon. Táin Bó Cúailnge 2 Epic Old and Middle Irish 8th-14th CE  
Anon. Iberian and Mozarabic Lyrics OR Troubadour Lyrics 2 Lyric Spanish-Arabic/ Provencal 11th-13th CE  
Marie de France Lais 2 Lyric Old French 12th CE  
Letters of Eloise and Abelard 2 Prose non-fiction Latin 12th CE  
Anon. Song of Roland OR Von Strassburg Tristan OR Von Eschenbach Parzival 2 Epic Old French/Middle High German 12th-13th CE  
Dante Inferno 2 Epic Italian 13th CE trans. Mandelbaum
Anon. Prose Edda OR Anon. Poem of the Cid 2 Epic Icelandic/Spanish 13th CE  
De Pizan The Book of the City of the Ladies 2 Prose fiction/non-fiction Middle French 14th-15th CE  
Petrarch Selected Poetry 2 Lyric Italian 14th CE Petrarch's Lyric Poetry trans. Durling (Harvard UP 1976)
Boccaccio Decameron OR De Navarre Heptameron OR Ariosto Orlando Furioso 2-3 Prose fiction/Prose fiction/ Epic Italian/French/Italian 14th/16th/16th CE  
Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel 3 Prose fiction French 16th CE  
Montaigne Essays OR Machiavelli The Prince 3 Prose non-fiction French/Italian 16th CE  
Cervantes Don Quixote (part I) 3 Prose fiction Spanish 16th-17th CE  
Lope de Vega Fuente Ovejuna OR Calderón de la Barca Life is a Dream OR Tirso de Molina Trickster of Seville 3 Drama Spanish 17th CE  
Racine Phèdre OR Molière Tartuffe OR Misanthrope 4 Drama French 17th CE  
Madame de La Fayette Princess of Clèves 4 Prose fiction French 17th CE  
Voltaire Candide 4 Prose fiction French 18th CE  
Rousseau Confessions 4 Prose non-fiction French 18th CE  
Goethe Sorrows of Young Werther OR Faust 4-5 Prose fiction/drama German 18th-19th CE Faust: the complete work or an abridged ed. such as the translation by Kaufmann
Hölderlin Selected Poetry OR Heine Selected Poetry 5 Lyric poetry German 19th CE Hölderlin Selected Poems and Fragments, trans. Hamburger (Penguin 1988); Heine Heinrich Heine: Poetry and Prose (Continuum 1998)
Baudelaire Flowers of Evil OR Rimbaud Illuminations OR A Season in Hell 5 Lyric poetry French 19th CE  
Flaubert Madame Bovary OR Sand Lélia OR Balzac Père Goriot OR Stendhal The Charterhouse of Parma 5 Prose fiction French 19th CE  
Dostoevsky Brothers Karamazov OR Notes from the Underground OR Tolstoy Anna Karenina OR The Death of Ivan Ilyich 5 Prose fiction Russian 19th CE  
Ibsen Peer Gynt OR A Doll's House OR Strindberg Miss Julie OR The Ghost Sonata 5-6 Drama Norwegian/Swedish 19th-20th CE  
Chekov The Cherry Orchard OR Uncle Vanya 5-6 Drama Russian 19th-20th CE  
Pirandello Six Characters in Search of an Author OR Ionesco Bald Soprano OR Beckett Waiting for Godot OR Sartre No Exit 6 Drama Italian/Francophone Romanian/French & English/French 20th CE  
Mann Magic Mountain OR Death in Venice OR Proust Swann's Way 6 Prose fiction German/French 20th CE  
Undset Kristen Lavransdatter OR Dinesen Winter's Tales 6 Prose fiction Norwegian/Anglophone Danish 20th CE  
Kafka Selected Short Fiction 6 Prose fiction Germanophone Czech 20th CE The Transformation (Metamorphosis) and Other Stories, trans. Pasley (Penguin)
Akhmatova Selected Poetry OR Tsvetaeva Selected Poetry OR Mandelstam Selected Poetry 6 Lyric Russian 20th CE  
Bulgakov The Master and Margarita OR Gombrowicz Ferdydurke 6 Prose fiction Russian/Polish 20th CE  
Brecht Mother Courage OR Good Person of Sichuan 6 Drama German 20th CE  
García Lorca Blood Wedding OR House of Bernarda Alba OR Selected Poetry 6 Drama/Lyric Spanish 20th CE  
Camus The Plague OR Sarraute The Planetarium OR Wittig Les Guérillères OR Duras Moderato Cantabile OR Hiroshima Mon Amour OR Genet Querelle de Brest 6 Prose fiction French 20th CE  
Nabokov Lolita OR Pale Fire OR Calvino Invisible Cities OR Sebald Austerlitz 6 Prose fiction Anglophone
20th CE  
Rilke Duino Elegies OR Letters to a Young Poet OR Celan Selected Poetry OR Cavafy Selected Poetry 6 Lyric Austrian/Francophone Romanian/Greek 20th CE Duino Elegies, trans. Snow, Letters to a Young Poet (Dover); Poems of Paul Celan trans. Hamburger; Cavafy Selected Poems, trans. Keeley and Sherrard
Wolf The Quest for Christa T. OR Cassandra OR Jelinek The Piano Teacher OR Children of the Dead OR Bachman Selected Short Fiction 6 Prose fiction German/Austrian/Austrian 20th CE  


East Asia

Author Work Period Genre Language/Ethnic Tradition Date Suggestions for particular editions, translations, etc.
Anon. Book of Songs 1 Lyric Chinese 10th-7th BCE  
Chuang Tzu Zhuangzi 1 Prose non-fiction Chinese 4th-3rd BCE  
Sima Qian Records of the Grand Historian 1 Prose non-fiction Chinese 2nd-1st BCE  
Tang Poetry: Li Po AND Du Fu AND Wang Wei 2 Lyric Chinese 8th CE  
Anon. The Kokinshū Lyrics 2 Lyric Japanese 10th CE


Murasaki Shikibu Tale of Genji OR Anon. Tale of the Heike 2 Prose fiction Japanese 10th-11th CE/14th CE trans. Royal Tyler, complete edition (Penguin 2003), abriged edition (Penguin 2006)
Noh Drama: Kanami Sotoba Komachi AND Zeami Aoi no Ue AND Atsumori AND Tadanori 2 Drama Japanese 14th-15th CE  
Wu Cheng'en Journey to the West (aka Monkey) 3 Prose fiction Chinese 16th CE Abridgement by Yu entitled The Monkey and the Monk (2006)
Bashō Narrow Road to the Deep North OR Saikaku The Life of an Amorous Woman 4 Prose fiction/Lyric/Prose fiction Japanese 17th CE  
Akinari Tales of Moonlight and Rain 4 Prose fiction Japanese 18th CE  
Cao Xuequin The Dream of the Red Chamber (aka Story of the Stone) 4 Prose fiction Chinese 18th CE  
Ōgai The Dancing Girl OR Futabatei Floating Cloud OR Ichiyō Child's Play 5 Prose fiction Japanese 19th CE  
Akutagawa Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories OR Sōseki Kokoro OR Kawabata Snow Country OR Mishima Confessions of a Mask OR Enchi Masks 6 Prose fiction Japanese 20th  
Ding Ling Miss Sophie's Diary and Other Stories OR Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang) Selected Short Fiction 6 Prose fiction Chinese 20th Zhang/Chang Love in a Fallen City (short fiction)


South Asia

Author Work Period Genre Language/Ethnic Tradition Date Suggestions for particular editions, translations, etc.
Rāmāyaṇa OR Bhagavad-Gītā 1 Epic Sanskrit 8th-6th BCE Ramayana, abridged ed. by Narayan
Anon. Tamil Anthologies 2 Lyric Tamil 2nd-3rd CE  
Pañcatantra 2 Prose fiction Sanskrit 2nd CE trans. Rajan (Penguin)
Kālidāsa Śakuntalā 2 Drama Sanskrit 4th CE  
Ghalib Selected Poetry 5 Lyric Urduphone Persian 19th CE The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib trans. Bly and Dutta (Borchardt 1999)
Premchand The Gift of a Cow 6 Prose fiction Hindiphone Indian 20th CE  
Tagore Selected Poems OR Nazrul Selected Poems 5-6 Lyric Bengaliphone Indian 19th-20th CE A Tagore Reader, ed. Chakravarty
(also in Africa) Gordimer Burger's Daughter OR Desai Clear Light of Day OR (also in Africa) Lessing The Golden Notebook 6 Prose fiction (Colonial Women) Anglophone South African/Indian/Zimbabwean 20th CE  
Narayan The English Teacher OR Rushdie Midnight's Children 6 Prose fiction Anglophone Indian 20th CE  



Author Work Period Genre Language/Ethnic Tradition Date Suggestions for particular editions, translations, etc.
Anon. Epic of Son Jara 2+ Epic Mali 13th-20th CE  
Gordimer Burger's Daughter OR (also in South Asia) Desai Clear Light of Day OR Lessing The Golden Notebook 6 Prose fiction (Colonial Women) Anglophone South African/Indian/Zimbabwean 20th CE  
Achebe, Things Fall Apart OR Aidoo No Sweetness Here 6 Prose fiction (West Africa) Anglophone Nigerian/ Ghanaian 20th CE  
Farah Maps OR Ngũgĩ Wizard of the Crow 6 Prose fiction (East African) Anglophone Somali/Kikuyu (Kenya) 20th CE  
Soyinka Kongi's Harvest OR The Road OR Bacchae of Euripides 6 Drama Anglophone Nigerian 20th CE  
Mofolo Chaka 6 Prose fiction (Southern African) Sotho 20th CE  
(also in Non-English-Speaking Americas) Chamoiseau Texaco, OR Bâ So Long a Letter OR (also in Non-English-Speaking Americas) Césaire Selected Poems 6 Prose fiction/Prose fiction/Lyric (Poetry: Carrib.+Africa) Francophone Martiniquais/Senegalese/Martiniquais 20th CE Césaire Return to My Native Land


Non-English-Speaking Americas

Author Work Period Genre Language/Ethnic Tradition Date Suggestions for particular editions, translations, etc.
Anon. Popol Vuh 3 Epic Quiche Mayan 16th CE  
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Selection 4 Lyric/prose non-fiction Mexican 17th CE  
Machado de Assis Dom Casmurro 5-6 Prose fiction Brazilian 19th-20th CE  
Rubén Darío Azul 5-6 Lyric/Prose fiction Nicaraguan 19th-20th CE  
Borges Labyrinths 6 Prose fiction/non-fiction Argentinian 20th CE  
Paz Selcted Poems OR Neruda Selected Poems OR Mistral Selected Poems 6 Lyric Mexican/Chilean/Chilean 20th CE Mistral Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral trans. U. LeGuin
García Márquez One Hundred Years of Solitude OR Lispector The Hour of the Star 6 Prose fiction Colombian/Brazilian 20th CE  
Fuentes Death of Artemio Cruz OR Cortázar Hopscotch OR Vargas Llosa Conversation in the Cathedral OR Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter 6 Prose fiction Mexican/Argentinian/Peruvian 20th CE  
Walcott Omeros 6 Epic Anglophone West Indian 20th CE  
Chamoiseau Texaco OR (also in Africa) Bâ So Long a Letter OR Césaire Selected Poems 6 Prose fiction/Prose fiction/Lyric Francophone Martiniquais/ Senegalese/Martiniquais 20th CE Césaire Return to My Native Land