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BA and MA Reading List

For students in the 2013 plan d'études, please note that the information below does not apply to you.


Reading list in pdf format:

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Reading List

The English Section expects you to read widely in English during your studies. Making your own personal Reading List is a way for you to plan, structure and make sense of the reading you do in class and on your own. The Reading List proposed by the Section groups exemplary texts by century or period and genre (fiction, poetry, drama), allowing you to situate your reading within the 'bigger picture' of anglophone literature. For example, one of the Canterbury Tales studied in IMLL belongs to group 4, 'Chaucer'; a Shakespeare sonnet read in ILA fits into group 10, 'Shakespeare'; a poem by Blake read in the ELS course can relate to group 18, 'Romantic poetry'; poems read in an ET seminar on Robert Frost relate to group 24, 'Modern Poetry', and so on.

The groups on the Reading List are quantitative. That is, they prescribe a certain number of 'entries' for each group and a certain number of works for each entry. Thus, group 23, 'The Short Story', contains three 'entries' (in this case authors) and three stories for each author.

The authors and texts in the various groups are suggestions and not requirements. Your own personal list may therefore substitute other authors or texts in the same category. To construct a coherent Reading List, you may wish to explore connections, parallels and contrasts among the various groups.

When you choose to take an épreuve in a literature module (whether medieval, modern English or American), your own personal Reading List will be part of the exam.

For a second-year épreuve in literature you must submit reading from three groups, one of which will include the seminar text or texts that you are going to be examined on. Thus,

  • if you are presenting a nineteenth-century novel from a second-year ET seminar, for example, one of your groups will be group 22, the 'Nineteenth-Century Novel,' and it will comprise your seminar text plus one other novel.
  • You will also have two other groups. If your exam is in modern literature, one group may be (but does not have to be) a group from medieval literature. If your exam is on medieval literature, you may include one modern group.

Whether or not you take a literature exam in your second year, you will continue to build your own Reading List on this pattern in your third year. The Reading List groups for épreuves in literature (medieval, modern, American) are cumulative: you may carry forward Reading List groups from previous exams taken in the second or third years.

The first literature exam comprises three groups, the second six, and the third nine. The fourth literature exam also comprises nine groups, since nine is the maximum number of groups for the discipline de base. If you take exams on option(OP) modules, the Reading List groups for those exams are counted in your discipline de base Reading list.

In the modern periods (i.e. Elizabethan onwards), your Reading List may include anglophone writers of any origin (English, Scottish, Irish, South African, Caribbean, American, Australian, etc.).


1. Old English Heroic Poetry



2. Old English: The Shorter Poems (3 entries)

'The Battle of Maldon'

'The Wanderer,' 'The Seafarer'

'Caedmon's Hymn,' 'The Dream of the Rood'

'Genesis B'

'The Wife's Lament', 'The Ruin', 'The Husband's Message', 'Wulf and Eadwacer'


3. Early Middle English Literature (1 entry)

The Owl and the Nightingale

The Arthurian Section of Lawman'sBrut (9229-14297)

Ancrene Wisse

The Harley Lyrics


4. Chaucer (1 entry)

Canterbury Tales: General Prologue, the Physician's and Pardoner's Tales

Canterbury Tales: The Miller's, Reeve's, Merchant's and Shipman's Tales

Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, the Clerk's and Franklin's Tales

The Parlement of Foules,the Nun's Priest's Tale from the Canterbury Tales


5. Medieval Romance (1 entry)

Havelok, Amys and Amylion

Sir Orfeo; Malory's Morte D'Arthur,Books 1, 20 and 21

Sir Tryamour


6. Fourteenth-Century Literature (1 entry)

Piers Plowman,Prologue and Passus1-7


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Cleanness and Patience

John Gower, Confessio Amantis,Books 1 to 4


7. Religious Literature (1 entry)

Julian of Norwich, A Revelation of Love

The Book of Margery Kempe

Richard Rolle, The English Writings

Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection

The Cloud of Unknowing


8. Medieval Drama (2 entries)

Chester, The Fall of Lucifer; York, The Fall of Man, The Last Judgment

Chester, Noah; Brome, Abraham and Isaac

Towneley, The Second Shepherds' Play



9. Fifteenth-Century Literature (1 entry)

Thomas Hoccleve, 'La Male Regle de T. Hoccleve', 'My Compleinte', 'A Dialoge'

John Lydgate, Troy Book, Prologue,Book One and Epilogue

Robert Henryson, The Testament of Cresseid, The Preiching of the Swallow


Elizabethan and 17th century


10. Shakespeare (3 plays plus Sonnet list)

Sonnets 15, 18, 29, 30, 55, 73, 116, 129, 138, 146


11. Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (2 entries)

Marlowe, Dr. Faustus

Jonson, The Alchemist

Webster, The Duchess of Malfi


12. Renaissance Poetry (3 entries)

Wyatt, 'Madam, Withouten Many Words,' 'Whoso List to Hunt,' 'My Lute, Awake,' 'They Flee from Me'

Donne, 'Go and Catch a Falling Star,' 'The Canonization,' 'Valediction Forbidding Mourning,' 'The Sun Rising'

Jonson, 'To Penshurst,' 'To the Memory of . . . Wm. Shakespeare,' 'On My First Son'

Herbert, 'The Collar,' 'Love' (3), 'The Flower,' 'Death'


13. Milton (1 entry)

Comus,'Lycidas,' 'How Soon Hath Time,' 'When I Consider,' Samson Agonistes Paradise Lost


Restoration and the 18th century


14. Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy (3 entries)

Wycherley, The Country Wife

Congreve, The Way of the World

Gay, The Beggar's Opera

Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer

Sheridan, School for Scandal


15. Eighteenth-Century Poetry (1 entry)

Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel(I), 'MacFlecknoe'

Pope, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, Essay on Criticism, Rape of the Lock

Pope, The Dunciad

Johnson, The Vanity of Human Wishes, London


16. Eighteenth-Century Prose (1 entry)

Swift, A Tale of a Tub, Battle of the Books

Swift, A Modest Proposal, Gulliver's Travels

Addison and Steele, selected Tatler and Spectator essays

Johnson, 'Preface' to Dictionary,'Preface to Shakespeare,' 'Lives of the Poets' (Cowley, Milton)

Boswell, The Life of Johnson

Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France; Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the

Rights of Women


17. Eighteenth-Century Novel (1 entry)

Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders

Richardson, Clarissa

Fielding, Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones

Sterne, Tristram Shandy, A Sentimental Journey

Burney, Evelina, Cecilia

Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho


19th and 20th centuries


18. Romantic Poetry (5 entries)

Blake, 'London,' 'The Tyger,' 'The Clod & the Pebble,' 'Holy Thursday'

Wordsworth, 'Tintern Abbey,' 'Ode: Intimations of Immortality,' 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge,' 1799 Prelude

Coleridge, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' 'Kubla Khan,' 'Frost at Midnight,' 'Dejection: an ode'

Byron, 'Prisoner of Chillon,' 'Stanzas to the Po,' 'Don Juan' Canto 1

Keats, 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer,' 'Ode on a Grecian Urn,' 'Ode to a Nightingale,' 'To Autumn'

Shelley, 'The Triumph of Life,' 'Adonais,' 'Ode to the West Wind,' 'The World's Great Age Begins Anew' (Chorus from Hellas)


19. Nineteenth-Century Prose (1 entry)

Hazlitt, De Quincey and Lamb (selections)

Arnold, 'Wordsworth,' 'The Study of Poetry,' 'Literature and Science'

Mill, 'What is Poetry?' 'On Liberty,' Autobiography

Carlyle, The French Revolution (selections)

Ruskin, Modern Painters, The Stones of Venice (selections)

Emerson, 'Nature,' 'Self-Reliance,' 'The Oversoul,' 'Experience'

Thoreau, Walden


20. Victorian Poetry (3 entries)

Tennyson, 'The Lady of Shalott,' 'Ulysses,' 'Morte d'Arthur,' 'Maud'

Browning, 'My Last Duchess,' 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,' 'Love Among the Ruins'

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 'How do I love thee?' 'Mother and Poet,' 'A Year's Spinning'

Arnold, 'Dover Beach,' 'The Buried Life'

Hopkins, 'God's Grandeur,' 'The Windhover,' 'Spring and Fall,' 'Terrible



21. Nineteenth-Century American Poetry (3 entries)

Poe, 'The Raven,' 'To Helen,' 'The City in the Sea,' 'Annabel Lee'

Emily Dickinson, 'There's a certain Slant of light,' 'After great pain,' 'I started early,' 'Because I could not stop for Death,' 'As imperceptibly as Grief'

Whitman, 'Song of Myself' (selections, for instance 1-5 & 52), 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed,' 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry'


22. Nineteenth-Century Novel (2 entries)

Scott, Waverley

Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Melville, Moby Dick

Thackeray, Vanity Fair

Dickens, Great Expectations

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

Henry James, Portrait of a Lady

Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles


23. The Short Story (3 entries)

Poe, 'Ligeia,' 'The Purloined Letter' 'The Fall of the House of Usher'

Hawthorne, 'Young Goodman Brown,' 'Rappaccini's Daughter,' 'The Minister's Black Veil'

James, 'The Figure in the Carpet,' 'The Real Thing,' 'The Beast in the Jungle'

Joyce, 'The Sisters,' 'Araby,' 'The Dead'

Mansfield, 'Daughters of the Late Colonel,' 'Bliss,' 'Je ne Parle pas Français'

Lawrence, 'Odour of Chrysanthemums,' 'The Horse-Dealer's Daughter,' 'The Prussian Officer'

Faulkner, 'The Bear,' 'Barn Burning,' 'A Rose for Emily'

Hemingway, 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro,' 'Big Two-Hearted River,' 'Cat in the Rain'


24. Modern Poetry (3 entries)

Eliot, 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock,' 'The Waste Land,' 'The Hollow Men'

Pound, 'I Make a Pact With You, Walt Whitman,' 'In a Station of the Metro,''Hugh Selwyn Mauberley'

Yeats, 'Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop,' 'Leda and the Swan,' 'Sailing to Byzantium'

Frost, 'Stopping By Woods,' 'Once by the Pacific,' 'Design'

Stevens, 'Sunday Morning,' 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,' 'The Idea of Order at Key West'

Williams, 'Spring and All,' 'Burning the Christmas Greens,' 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'

Auden, 'In Memory of W. B. Yeats,' 'Musée des Beaux Arts,' 'The Shield of Achilles'


25. Twentieth-Century Novel (3 entries)

Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Lawrence, Sons and Lovers

Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Beckett, Malone Dies

Morrison, Song of Solomon

Rushdie, Midnight's Children

Carter, Wise Children

Byatt, Possession


26. Modern Drama (3 entries)

Miller, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible

Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Zoo Story

Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere's Fan

Beckett, Waiting For Godot, Endgame

Pinter, The Caretaker, The Homecoming

Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Travesties


27. Post-war Poetry (3 entries)

Plath, 'Daddy,' 'Lady Lazarus,' 'Edge'

Berryman, 'Homage to Mistress Bradstreet,' Dream Songs 1, 14

Lowell, 'The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket,' 'For the Union Dead,' 'Night Sweat'

Merrill, 'Lost in Translation,' 'An Urban Convalescence,' Mirabell's Books of Number (selection)

Larkin, 'Church Going,' 'MCMXIV,' 'High Windows'

Walcott, 'A Far Cry from Africa,' 'The Glory Trumpeter,' Omeros (selection)

Hill, 'September Song,' Mercian Hymns 6 & 7

Heaney, 'Station Island,' 'Digging,' 'Punishment,' 'Exile Runes'


28. Open Category (3 entries)

Works not classifiable under the above headings, such as science or detective

fiction, autobiographies, literary theory, screenplays, etc.

(List last revised December 2011)

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