Brooklyn College English Department
Master of Fine Arts Program
Suggested Reading Lists

Below please find our suggested reading lists of fiction, poetry, and plays.

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(1) 18th and 19th Century English

at least three of the following authors:

Daniel Defoe: Moll Flanders
Henry Fielding: Tom Jones
Lawrence Sterne: Tristram Shandy
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Emma
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
Charles Dickens: Great Expectations, Bleak House
George Eliot: Middlemarch
Thomas Hardy: Jude the Obscure, The Mayor of Casterbridge

at least one of the following:

Samuel Richardson: Pamela, Clarissa
W. M. Thackeray: Vanity Fair
Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers
Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South, Wives and Daughters
Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre

(2) 20th Century "English"

one work by each of the following:

Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim, Victory, Heart of Darkness
D. H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers, Women in Love and stories
James Joyce: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses
Virginia Woolf: To The Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway

at least three of the following:

Samuel Beckett: Watt, Malloy
Anita Brookner: Look at Me, Hotel du Lac
Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh
J. M. Coetzee: Waiting for the Barbarians
Ford Madox Ford: The Good Soldier
E. M. Forster: Howards End, Passage to India
William Golding; Lord of the Flies
Nadine Gordimer: Burger's Daughter, July's Children
Graham Greene: Brighton Rock
Aldous Huxley: Point Counterpoint, Brave New World
Doris Lessing: The Golden Notebook, Martha Quest
Malcom Lowry: Under the Volcano
Iris Murdoch: The Sand Castle, The Italian Girl
V. S. Naipaul: A Bend in the River
Edna O'Brien: The Country Girls Trilogy
Frank O'Connor: stories
George Orwell: 1984, Burmese Days, Keep the Aspidistra Flying
Jean Rhys: Quartet, Good Morning, Midnight!
Muriel Spark: Memento Mori
Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead Revisited, The Loved One

(3) Early American

all of the following:

Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter and stories
Herman Melville: Moby Dick and Bartleby the Scrivener
E. A. Poe: stories
Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn

(4) 20th Century American

one work by each of the following:

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
Ernest Hemingway: The Sun also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, In Our Time (stories)
William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, As I Lay Dying
Nathanael West: Miss Lonelyhearts, The Day of the Locust
Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
Flannery O'Connor: Wise Blood, Everything that Rises Must Converge (stories)

at least three of the following:

Sherwood Anderson: Winesburg Ohio
Djuna Barnes: Nightwood
Willa Cather: The Professor's House, My Antonia
Stephen Crane: Red Badge of Courage and stories
Kate Chopin: The Awakening
Theodore Dreiser: Sister Carrie, An American Tragedy
John Dos Passos: U. S. A.
Zora N. Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors
Sinclair Lewis: Main Street, Babbitt
Carson McCullers: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Henry Miller: Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn
Katherine Anne Porter: stories
Gertrude Stein: Three Lives
John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
Eudora Welty: stories
Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence
Thomas Wolfe: Look Homeward Angel
Richard Wright: Native Son

(5) Later 20th Century American

at least five of the following:

Margaret Atwood: Edible Woman, Life Before Man
James Baldwin: Go Tell it on the Mountain
John Barth: The End of the Road, Lost in the Funhouse (stories)
Donald Barthelme: stories: "Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts"; Sadness
William Burroughs: Naked Lunch
Raymond Carver: Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (stories)
Robert Coover: Pricksongs & Descant (stories), Spanking the Maid
Don DeLillo: White Noise, Mao 11
Richard Ford: Wildlife, Rock Springs (stories)
William H. Gass: In the Heart of the Heart (stories)
William Gaddis: The Recognitions, Carpenter's Gothic
John Hawkes: The Lime Twig, Death, Sleep & the Traveler
Joseph Heller: Catch 22
Charles Johnson: Middle Passage
Jack Kerouac: On the Road
Jerzy Kosinski: The Painted Bird
Bernard Malamud: The Natural, The Assistant, stories
Norman Mailer: An American Dream, Deer Park
Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon, Beloved
Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita, Despair
Joyce Carol Oates: The Wheel of Love (stories)
Tillie Olsen: Tell Me a Riddle (stories)
Grace Paley: stories: The Little Disturbances of Man, Later the Same Day
Thomas Pynchon: V, Crying of Lot 49
Phillip Roth: Portnoy's Complaint, The Ghost Writer
Ishmael Reed: The Free-Lance Pallbearers, Mumbo-Jumbo
J. D. Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories
I. B. Singer: stories
John Updike: Rabbit Run
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Slaughterhouse Five

(6) Europeans & Others

one work by each of the following:

Anton Chekhov: stories
Franz Kafka: The Trial, The Metamorphosis and other stories
Albert Camus: The Stranger, The Plague

at least two of the following:

Honoré Balzac: Pere Goriot, Droll Tales
Cervantes: Don Quixote
Fyodor Dostoyevsky: The Brothers Karamazov, Crime & Punishment
Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary
Guy de Maupassant: stories
Stendhal: The Red and the Black
Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina, War and Peace
Ivan Turgenev: Fathers and Sons
Voltaire: Candide
Emile Zola: The Human Beast, Nana

at least three of the following:

Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
Isaac Babel: stories
Jorge Luis Borges: stories
Tadeusz Borowski: This Way for the Gas, Ladies & Gentlemen
Simone de Beauvoir: The Mandarins
Italo Calvino: Invisible Cities, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
Louis Ferdinand Céline: Death on the Installment Plan, Journey to the End of Night
Colette: Cheri, Ripening Seed
Marguerite Duras: Moderato Contabile, The Lover
Carlos Fuentes: A Change of Skin
Jean Genet: Our Lady of the Flowers
André Gide: The Counterfeiters, Lafcadio's Adventures
Günter Grass: The Tin Drum
Peter Handke: The Left-Handed Woman
Herman Hesse: Steppenwolf
Milan Kundera: The Book of Laughter & Forgetting, The Farewell Party
Violet Leduc: La Batarde, The Taxi
Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain, Stories of Three Decades
Gabriel García Márquez: A Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera
Robert Musil: The Man without Qualities
Cees Nooteboom: Rituals
Marcel Proust: Rememberance of Things Past (Swann's Way)
Manuel Puig: Betrayed by Rita Hayworth
Alain Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy, The Voyeur
Nathalie Sarraute: Tropisms
Jean-Paul Sartre: Nausea
Bruno Schulz: The Street of Crocodiles
Italo Svevo: Confessions of Zeno



Ibsen: The Master Builder, The Wild Duck, A Doll's House,
Hedda Gabler

Chekhov: Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull
Strindberg: Dance of Death, Ghost Sonata, The Father, Miss Julie
Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV
Genet: The Balcony, The Maids
Brecht: The Good Woman of Setzuan, Puntilla Arturo Ui, The Caucasion Chalk Circle
Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest
Shaw: Heartbreak House, Major Barbara, Mrs. Warren's Profession
O'Neill: Long Day's Journey into Night, Desire Under the Elms,
The Iceman Cometh, The Hairy Ape
Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,
The Glass Menagerie

Odets: Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing
Miller. Death of a Salesman, The Price
Pinter: Homecoming, The Birthday Party
Beckett: Waiting for Godot, Endgame
Ionesco: The Bald Soprano, The Chairs
Shepard: The Curse of the Starving Class
Synge: Playboy of the Western World
Eliot: Murder in the Cathedral, The Cocktail Party
Albee: Zoo Story, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
O'Casey: Plough and the Stars, Juno and the Paycock
Gelber: The Connection, Sleep
L. Wilson: The Gingham Dog, Hot L Baltimore


Sophocles: Oedipus series
Aristophanes: Lysistrata
Aeschylus: Seven Against Thebes


Plautus: The Menaechmi
Terrence: The Brothers
Seneca: Medea


Shakespeare: Hamlet, King Lear, Measure for Measure,
Twelfth Night

Janson: Volpone
Webster: The Duchess of Malfi
Ford: 'Tis Pity She's a Whore


Dryden: All for Love
Otway: Venice Preserved
Farquhar: The Beaux' Stratagem
Moliere: The School for Wives, The Miser


Francis Fergusson: The Idea of Theatre
Albert Bermel: Contradictory Characters
Eric Bentley: The Lite of the Drama
Artaud: The Theatre and its Double
Peter Brook: The Empty Space


All students entering the program are required to possess and refer to the following five books:

1) Ferguson, Salter, Stallworthy, eds., The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 4th ed., unabridged — a traditional survey of American, British, "colonial" and "postcolonial" anglophone poetry from its beginnings to the present.

2 and 3) Rothenberg and Joris, eds., Poems for the Millennium, vols. 1 and 2 (U. Cal. 1995, 1998)— a wide-ranging and eclectic two-volume anthology of international modernist and post-modernist poetry and poetics.

4) Preminger and Bogan, eds., The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, unabridged (PUP/U. Cal) — a valuable resource including references to technical terms (such as: anapest, antanclasis, clerihew, metaphor, sonnet, tanka, zejel, zuegma), poetic movements (such as: blues, imagism, language poetry, Oulipo, romanticism, surrealism), ethnic and national poetries (such as: American, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Indian, Swedish, Yiddish).

5) Leitch, Cain, et al., The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2001), a comprehensive survey of theory and criticism from the ancient Greeks to the present.

Also recommended: standard critical texts including Aristotle, The Poetics; Sidney, "An Apologie for Poetrie"; Shelley, "A Defense of Poetry"; Poe, "The Poetic Principle" and "The Philosophy of Composition"; Wordsworth, "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads"; Whitman, "1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass"; Arnold, "The Study of Poetry"; Pound, "A Retrospect"; Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and "Hamlet and His Problems"; Frost, "The Figure a Poem Makes"; Stein, "Narration: Lecture 2"; Stevens, "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words"; Olson, "Projective Verse"; and Robert Hass, "Listening and Making."