Reading List for PhD Major Exam on 20th Century American Literature

In June 2010, I will take my three PhD exams in the Kent State University English Literature PhD program.  For these exams, I convened a committee of trusted professors, each administering one exam. I choose to take my exams in these areas: 20th Century American Literature (administered by Kevin Floyd), Postmodern Theory (administered by Tammy Clewell), and the Philip K. Dick Canon (administered by Donald “Mack” Hassler). Below, I have included my 20th Century American Literature reading list. Go here to read my Postmodern Theory exam list, and here to read my Philip K. Dick exam list.

PhD Major Exam Area:  Twentieth-Century American Literature

Director:  Kevin Floyd



  1. Chopin, Kate. The Awakening (1899).
  2. Cather, Willa. O Pioneers! (1913).
  3. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper”
  4. TS Eliot: “The Waste Land,” “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock”
  5. Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio (1919).
  6. William, Carlos Williams. Spring and All (1923).
  7. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby (1925).
  8. Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury (1929).
  9. Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying (1930).
  10. Langston Hughes: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”; “Epilogue”; “Harlem”; “Same in Blues”; “Theme for English B”; “Mother to Son”; “Song for a Dark Girl.”
  11. Countee Cullen: “Yet Do I Marvel”; “Heritage”; “Incident.”
  12. Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms (1929).
  13. Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).
  14. Dos Passos, John. The Big Money (1936).
  15. Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
  16. Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).
  17. Wright, Richard. Native Son (1940).
  18. Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire (1947).
  19. Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman (1949).
  20. Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye (1951).
  21. Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man (1952).
  22. Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time.
  23. Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  24. Eugene O’Neill, Long Days Journey Into Night
  25. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  26. Ginsberg, Allen. “Howl” and “Kaddish.”
  27. Kerouac, Jack. On the Road (1957)
  28. Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch (1959).
  29. Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun (1959).
  30. Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962).
  31. Plath, Sylvia. Ariel.
  32. Pynchon, Thomas. V. (1963).
  33. Sam Shepard, True West
  34. LeRoi Jones, Dutchman (1964)
  35. O’Connor, Flannery. “A good man is hard to find”; “everything that rises must converge”; “revelation”; “good country people”
  36. Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness (1969).
  37. Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo (1972).
  38. Delany, Samuel R. Dhalgren (1975).
  39. Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony (1977).
  40. Gibson, William. Neuromancer (1984)
  41. DeLillo, Don. White Noise (1985).
  42. Morrison, Toni. Beloved (1987).
  43. Gloria Naylor, Linden Hills
  44. Roth, Philip. American Pastoral (1997).
  45. Updike, John.  Rabbit, Run
  46. Butler, Octavia. Kindred (1979).
  47. Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex (2002).
  48. Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).


  1. Asimov, Isaac. I, Robot (1950).
  2. Bradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles (1950).
  3. Kornbluth, Cyril M. and Fredrick Pohl. The Space Merchants (1953).
  4. Ellison, Harlan.  “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967).
  5. Tiptree, James Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon), “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (1973).
  6. Delany, Samuel R. Tales of Nevèrÿon (1979)
  7. Sterling, Bruce ed. Mirrorshades:  The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986).
  8. Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash (1992).
  9. Powers, Richard. Galatea 2.2 (1995).
  10. Di Filippo, Paul. Ribofunk (1996).
  11. Cunningham, Michael. Specimen Days (2005).

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Posted in Kent State, Personal
6 comments on “Reading List for PhD Major Exam on 20th Century American Literature
  1. […] I have included my Philip K. Dick reading list. Go here to read my Postmodern Theory exam list, and here to read my 20th Century American Literature exam […]

  2. […] Reading List for PhD Major Exam on 20th Century American Literature […]

  3. This looks a ton like my Ph.D. comprehensive exam reading list. Good luck Jason!

  4. Jason Ellis says:

    Thanks Harlan! I will report on the aftermath very soon. -Jason

  5. sterlinglx says:

    Reblogged this on sterlinglx and commented:
    Reading List for PhD Major Exam on 20th Century American Literature

  6. […] the summer after completing course work, we met at the Starbucks in downtown Kent, Ohio to finalize my reading list and the kinds of questions that would best suit my purposes and enable my intellectual growth […]

Comments are closed.

Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.


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