Our Bibliography of Formative & Influential Texts

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Maybe it’s true that we, the living, know more than the dead, and that “they are that which we know.” If we must invent new ways to stake our claim of time and space, as appraisers and makers of art, we may do so in large part by conversing with the absent, the living and dead. This is reading. This is writing.

Perhaps we will rely upon the canon and those texts which time and its academies deem important. For the sake of four years, we challenge you to broaden your tradition, to make a greater claim by embracing and rejecting, distrusting, envying, blowing up and raising the largest “tradition” you can. Toward that end, we present this list, combining and colliding our various traditions into one. 

[This list, itself, is fluid and may evolve over time. Texts listed by multiple faculty are noted following the title.]

EPIC POETRY

  • Homer: The Odyssey (2);The Iliad (2)
  • Ovid (43 BCE-17 BCE): The Metamorphoses
  • Anonymous (sometime between 8th and 11th centuries): Beowulf (3)
  • Alighieri, Dante (1265-1321): The Divine Comedy (2)
  • Anonymous (14th c.): Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Chaucer, Geoffrey (1343-1400): The Canterbury Tales (2); “The General Prologue”; “The Miller’s Tale”; “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”; “The Pardoner’s Tale”
  • Spenser, Edmund (1552-1599): The Faerie Queene (2) (especially 1 and 3)
  • Milton, John (1608-1674): Paradise Lost (3)

 

FICTION (NOVELS & SHORT STORIES)

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375): The Decameron
  • More, Thomas (1478-1535): Utopia (2)
  • de Cervantes, Miguel (1547-1616): Don Quixote
  • Aphra Behn (1640-1689): “Oroonoko” (2)
  • Defoe, Daniel (1660-1731): Robinson CrusoeMoll Flanders
  • Swift, Jonathan (1667-1745): Gulliver’s Travels (2)
  • Richardson, Samuel (1689-1761): Pamela
  • Fielding, Henry (1707-1754):Tom Jones
  • Sterne, Laurence (1713-1768): Tristram ShandyA Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Mr. Yorick
  • Burney, Frances (1752-1840): Evelina
  • Radcliffe, Ann (1764-1823): Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Austen, Jane (1775-1817): Pride and Prejudice (2)
  • Lewis, Matthew Gregory (1775-1818):The Monk
  • Grimm, Jacob (1785-1863) and Grimm, Wilhelm (1786-1859): Grimm’s Fairy Tales
  • Carlyle, Thomas (1795-1881): Sartor Resartus
  • Shelley, Mary (1797-1851): Frankenstein (2); Mathilda
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1804-1864): The Scarlet Letter (2); “Young Goodman Brown”; “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” 
  • Mill, John Stuart (1806-1873): Selections from On Liberty
  • Thackeray, William (1811-1863): Vanity Fair
  • Dickens, Charles (1812-1870): The Pickwick PapersBleak House (2); Great Expectations (2); Oliver TwistOur Mutual Friend
  • Brontë, Charlotte (1816-1855): Jane Eyre (2)
  • Brontë, Emily (1818-1848): Wuthering Heights (3)
  • Eliot, George (1819-1880): Middlemarch (3); The Mill on the Floss
  • Melville, Herman (1819-1891): Moby Dick (6); “Bartleby the Scrivener”
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor (1821-1881): The Brothers Karamazov (3); Notes from the UndergroundCrime and Punishment (2)
  • Flaubert, Gustave (1821-1880): Madame BovarySentimental Education
  • Tolstoy, Leo (1828-1910): War and PeaceAnna Karenina
  • Twain, Mark (1835-1910): Huckleberry Finn
  • Abbott, Edwin (1838-1926):Flatland
  • Pater, Walter (1839-1894): “The Child in the House” 
  • Hardy, Thomas (1840-1928): The Return of the Native
  • James, Henry (1843-1916): Portrait of a Lady (2); The Golden Bowl
  • Stoker, Bram (1847-1912): Dracula
  • Wilde, Oscar (1854-1900): The Picture of Dorian GrayDe Profundis
  • Conrad, Joseph (1857-1924) Heart of Darkness (2)
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan (1859-1930): The Complete Sherlock Holmes
  • Chekov, Anton (1860-1904): The Collected Short Stories (2)
  • Wharton, Edith (1862-1937): The Age of Innocence
  • Kipling, Rudyard (1865-1936): The Jungle Books
  • Proust, Marcel (1871-1922): Swann’s WayRemembrance of Things Past
  • Hesse, Hermann (1877-1962): Steppenwolf
  • Wodehouse, P.G. (1881-1975): The World of Jeeves
  • Joyce, James (1882-1941): Ulysses (2); DublinersPortrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Woolf, Virginia (1882-1941): The WavesMrs. Dalloway (3); To the Lighthouse (2)
  • Kafka, Franz (1883-1924): Metamorphosis and Stories (2)
  • Lawrence, D.H. (1885-1930): Sons and LoversWomen in Love
  • Lardner, Ring (1885-1933): The Portable Ring Lardner 
  • Rhys, Jean (1890-1979): Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Hurston, Zora Neale (1891-1960): Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Babel, Isaac (1894-1940): Red Cavalry
  • Hammett, Dashiell (1894-1961): Complete Novels
  • Huxley, Aldous (1894-1963): Brave New World
  • Graves, Robert (1895-1985): The Greek Myths
  • Dos Passos, John (1896-1970):U.S.A. Trilogy
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1896-1940): Tender is the Night (2); Short stories 
  • Faulkner, William (1897-1962): Light in AugustThe Wild Palms (If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem)Collected StoriesThe Sound and the Fury (3); As I Lay Dying
  • Borges, Jorge Luis (1899-1986): Collected Fictions; Labyrinths
  • Bowen, Elizabeth (1899-1973): A House in Paris
  • Hemingway, Ernest (1899-1961): The Collected Short Stories (2); In Our Time (2); “In Another Country”
  • Nabokov, Vladimir (1899-1977): Lolita
  • West, Nathanael (1903-1940): Miss LonelyheartsThe Day of the Locust
  • Maxwell, William (1908-2000): So Long, See You Tomorrow (2)
  • Pavese, Cesare (1908-1950): The Moon and the Bonfires
  • Vittorini, Elio (1908-1966): Conversations in Sicily
  • Agee, James (1909-1945): A Death in the Family
  • Welty, Eudora (1909-2001): The Collected Short Stories; Curtain of Green and Other Stories 
  • Ellison, Ralph (1914-1994): The Invisible Man (3)
  • Malamud, Bernard (1914-1986): The Complete Stories
  • Hrabal, Bohumil (1914-1997): Closely Watched Trains
  • Bellow, Saul (1915-2005): Herzog (2)
  • Rulfo, Juan (1917-1986): Pedro Paramo (2)
  • Salinger, J.D. (1919-2010): Nine StoriesCatcher in the Rye
  • Vonnegut, Kurt (1922-2007): Slaughter House Five
  • Calvino, Italo (1923-1985): Invisible CitiesCosmicomics
  • Heller, Joseph (1923-1999): Catch-22
  • Baldwin, James (1924-1987): “Sonny’s Blues”; Going to Meet the Man 
  • Gass, William (1924- ): In the Heart of the Heart of the Country
  • Mishima, Yukio (1925-1970): Stories; “Patriotism"
  • O’Connor, Flannery (1925-1964): A Good Man is Hard to Find (2); “A Good Man is Hard to Find”;  “Good Country People”; “Everything that Rises Must Converge”
  • Berriault, Gina (1926-1999): Women in Their Beds
  • Yates, Richard (1926-1992): Revolutionary Road
  • Màrquez, Gabriel Garcìa (1927-2014): One Hundred Years of SolitudeChronicle of a Death Foretold
  • Wolf, Christa (1929-2011): Patterns of Childhood
  • Morrison, Toni (1931- ): Song of Solomon (2); Beloved (5); The Bluest Eye
  • Munro, Alice (1931- ): Short stories 
  • McCarthy, Cormac (1933- ): The RoadAll the Pretty Horses
  • Portis, Charles (1933- ): True Grit
  • Proulx, Annie (1935- ): Short stories 
  • DeLillo, Don (1936- ): The Angel EsmeraldaWhite Noise
  • Carver, Raymond (1938-1988): “Cathedral”; The Collected Stories 
  • Coetzee, J.M. (1940- ): Waiting for the Barbarians
  • Gay, William (1941-2012): I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down
  • Haruf, Kent (1943- ): Plainsong
  • Robinson, Marilynne (1943- ): Housekeeping (3); Gilead
  • Walker, Alice (1944- ): The Color Purple
  • O’Brien, Tim (1946- ): The Things They Carried (2)
  • Davis, Lydia (1947- ): Break it Down
  • Johnson, Denis (1949- ): Jesus’ Son 
  • Carson, Anne (1950- ): The Autobiography of Red (2)
  • Hempel, Amy (1951- ): The Collected Stories
  • Cisneros, Sandra (1954- ): The House on Mango Street
  • Maso, Carole (1956- ): AVA
  • Moore, Lorrie (1957- ): Birds of America
  • Hosseini, Khaled (1965- ): The Kite RunnerA Thousand Splendid Suns
  • Diaz, Junot (1968- ): DrownThis is How You Lose HerThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao 
  • Orner, Peter (1968- ): Esther StoriesLast Car Over the Sagamore Bridge
  • Packer, ZZ (1973- ): Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  • Muir, Frank (editor): The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose

 

PLAYS

  • Anonymous (15th century?): York Mystery Plays/York Corpus Christi Plays
  • Marlowe, Christopher (1564-1593): Doctor Faustus (2)
  • Shakespeare, William (1564-1616): Complete works (3); Hamlet (4); Macbeth (3); Othello (3); As You Like It (2); Twelfth Night (3); Merchant of Venice (3); Henry V (2); Richard III (2); The Tempest (4); The Winter’s Tale (2); King Lear (2); Much Ado About Nothing (2); Riverside Shakespeare (2)
  • Jonson, Ben (1572-1637): The AlchemistVolpone 
  • Webster, John (1580-1634): The Duchess of Malfi 
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832): Faust 
  • Wordsworth, William (1770-1850): The Borderers 
  • Byron, George Gordon (1788-1824): Manfred 
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822): The Cenci; Prometheus Unbound 
  • Wilde, Oscar (1854-1900): The Importance of Being Earnest 
  • Beckett, Samuel (1906-1989): Waiting for Godot (2)
  • Miller, Arthur (1915-2005): Death of a Salesman
  • Stoppard, Tom (1937- ): Arcadia 
  • Wilson, August (1945-2005): The Piano LessonFences
  • Gassner, John (editor): Best American Plays, 3rd seriesBest American Plays, 5th series

 

SCREENPLAY

  • Sturges, Preston (1898-1959): Five Screenplays 

 

GRAPHIC NOVEL

  • Moore, Alan (1953- ): Watchmen
  • Satrapi, Marjane (1969- ): Persepolis 

ESSAY

  • Aristotle (384 BCE-322 BCE): Rhetoric
  • Sidney, Philip (1584-1586): An Apology for Poetry (2)
  • Swift, Jonathan (1667-1745): “A Modest Proposal”
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822): “A Defence of Poetry”
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803-1882): “Circles”; “The American Scholar”; “Self-Reliance”; “Experience”
  • Kierkegaard, Soren (1813-1855): Everything
  • Arnold, Matthew (1822-1888): Essays in Criticism
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844-1900): Everything
  • Cixous, Helene (1937- ): Stigmata
  • James, Clive (1939- ): Cultural Amnesia
  • Hass, Robert (1941- ): Twentieth Century Craft
  • Lopate, Phillip (1943- ): “Introduction” from The Art of the Personal Essay
  • Robinson, Marilynne (1943- ): The Death of Adam; When I Was A Child I Read Books
  • Dillard, Annie (1945- ): “Seeing”
  • Zizek, Slavoj (1949- ): The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For

 

NONFICTION

  • Plato (427 BCE-347 BCE): The Symposium
  • Augustine (354-430): The Confessions
  • Donne, John (1572-1631): Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
  • Descartes, Rene (1596-1650): Meditations on First Philosophy
  • Locke, John (1632-1704): An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • Addison, Joseph (1672-1719) and Steele, Richard (1672-1729): Selections from the Tatler
  • Hume, David (1711-1776):  A Treatise of Human Nature
  • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1712-1778): The Confessions; Reveries of a Solitary Walker
  • Burke, Edmund (1729-1797): A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful
  • Paine, Thomas (1737-1809): Rights of Man
  • Boswell, James (1740-1795): The Life of Samuel Johnson
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary (1759-1797): A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • Keats, John (1795-1821): Letters
  • Darwin, Charles (1809-1882): Origin of Species
  • Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862): On Walden Pond (2)
  • Hopkins, Gerard Manley (1844-1889): Journals
  • Henri, Robert (1865-1929): The Art Spirit
  • Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875-1926): Letters to a Young Poet
  • Hurston, Zora Neale (1891-1960): Dust Tracks on a Road
  • Levant, Oscar (1906-1972): Memoirs of an Amnesiac
  • Agee, James (1909-1945) and Evans, Walker (1903-1975): Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (2)
  • Kazan, Elia (1909-2003): A Life
  • Weil, Simone (1909-1943): Letters and essays
  • Cage, John (1912-1992): Silence
  • Kerr, Walter (1913-1996): The Silent Clowns
  • Ginzburg, Natalia (1916-1991): Little Virtues
  • Levi, Primo (1919-1987): Survival in Auschwitz
  • Ritter, Lawrence (1922-2004): The Glory of Their Times
  • Capote, Truman (1924-1984): In Cold Blood (3)
  • Gass, William (1924- ): On Being Blue
  • Malcolm X (1925-1965): The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Foucault, Michel (1926-1984): The Order of Things
  • Kristeva, Julia (1941- ): Black Sun
  • McPherson, James Alan (1943- ): Crabcakes
  • Robinson, Marilynne (1943- ): Absence of Mind
  • Dillard, Annie (1945- ): The Writing Life; For the Time Being
  • Auster, Paul (1947- ): The Invention of Solitude
  • King, Stephen (1947- ): On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
  • Fulton, Alice (1952- ): Feeling as a Foreign Language
  • Purpura, Lia (1964- ): On Looking
  • Biss, Eula: Notes from No Man’s Land
  • Nelson, Maggie (1973- ): Bluets 

 

POETICS

  • Aristotle (384 BCE-322 BCE): Poetics
  • Bachelard, Gaston (1884-1962): The Poetics of Space
  • Roethke, Theodore (1908-1963): On Poetry and Craft
  • Bishop, Elizabeth (1911-1979): One Art: Letters
  • Rukeyser, Muriel (1913-1980): The Life of Poetry
  • Hugo, Richard (1923-1982): The Triggering Town
  • Boruch, Marianne (1950- ): Poetry’s Old Air
  • Ruefle, Mary (1952- ): Madness, Rack, and Honey 

 

POETRY

  • Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); Sonnets (3)       
  • Donne, John (1572-1631): Holy Sonnets (2); Songs;  Sonnets
  • Sidney, Philip (1584-1586): Astrophil and Stella
  • Herrick, Robert (1591-1674): “To the Virgins to make much of Time”
  • Marvell, Andrew (1621-1678): “To His Coy Mistress”
  • Pope, Alexander (1688-1744): “The Rape of the Lock” (3)
  • Smith, Charlotte (1749-1806): Elegiac Sonnets
  • Blake, William (1757-1827): Songs of Innocence and Experience (2); Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Visions of the Daughter of Albion; The Book of Urizen
  • Wordsworth, William (1770-1850): The Prelude (2); Lyrical Ballads (2); Preface to Lyrical Ballads  (2); The Borderers
  • Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834):  “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”  (2); “Christabel”; “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison”; “The Aeolian Harp”; “Frost at Midnight”
  • Byron, George Gordon (1788-1824): Selected Poetry of Lord Byron; Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage; Don Juan
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822): The Major Works; “Alastor”; “Mont Blanc”
  • Keats, John (1795-1821): Odes (2); Sonnets
  • Browning, Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861): Aurora Leigh (2)
  • Tennyson, Alfred (1809-1892): In Memorium (2); “Ulysses”; “The Lady of Shalott”
  • Browning, Robert (1812-1889): “My Last Duchess”
  • Whitman, Walt (1819-1892): “Song of Myself”;  Leaves of Grass
  • Arnold, Matthew (1822-1888): “Dover Beach”  (2)
  • Meredith, George (1828-1909): “Modern Love”
  • Dickinson, Emily (1830-1886): The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson  (2)
  • Rossetti, Christina (1830-1894): “Goblin Market”  (2)
  • Hopkins, Gerard Manley (1844-1889): Poems 1876-1889 (2); The “Terrible” sonnets  (2)
  • Yeats, William Butler (1865-1939): Complete
  • Frost, Robert (1874-1963): “Birches”; Mountain Interval; Complete poems
  • Stein, Gertrude (1875-1946): Tender Buttons
  • Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875-1926): Duino Elegies (2); Sonnets to Orpheus
  • Stevens, Wallace (1879-1955): Collected Poems (2); Harmonium (2)        
  • Williams, William Carlos (1883-1963): Everything (2); Imaginations
  • Eliot, T.S. (1888-1965): The Four Quartets;  “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”; “The Wasteland”
  • Millay, Edna St. Vincent (1892-1950): Sonnets
  • Vallejo, Cesar (1892-1938): Poemas Umanos
  • Huidobro, Vicente (1893-1948): Altazor
  • Toomer, Jean (1894-1967): Cane
  • Montale, Eugenio (1896-1981): The Collected Poems
  • Lorca, Federico Garcia (1898-1963): Poet in New York
  • Borges, Jorge Luis (1899-1986): Selected Poems
  • Ponge, Francis (1899-1988): Soap
  • Hughes, Langston (1902-1967): Everything
  • Smith, Stevie (1902-1971): Collected Poems
  • Neruda, Pablo (1904-1973): Residencia en la Terra, II; The Complete Poems (2)
  • Oppen, George (1908-1984): Discrete Series
  • Pavese, Cesare (1908-1950): Complete Poems
  • Bishop, Elizabeth (1911-1979): A Cold Spring; North and South; Geography III
  • Milosz, Czeslaw (1911-2004): The Collected Poems
  • Rukeyser, Muriel (1913-1980) The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser
  • Berryman, John (1914-1972): Dream Songs (3)
  • Lowell, Robert (1917-1977): Life Studies; For the Union Dead; “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket”
  • Celan, Paul (1920-1970): Collected Poems
  • Amichai, Yehuda (1924-2000): Open Closed Open
  • Herbert, Zbigniew (1924-1998): Mr. Cogito
  • Ammons, A.R. (1926-2001): Sphere
  • Merrill, James (1926-1995): Nights and Days
  • O’Hara, Frank (1926-1966): Lunch Poems; Meditations in an Emergency
  • Ashbery, John (1927- ): Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror; Three Poems
  • Wright, James (1927-1980): The Branch Will Not Break (2); Above the River
  • Levine, Philip (1928- ): What Work Is (2); They Feed They Lion
  • Rich, Adrienne (1929-2012): An Atlas of the Difficult World
  • Walcott, Derek (1930- ): Collected Poems
  • Knight, Etheridge (1931-1991): Poems from PrisonThe Essential Etheridge Knight
  • Plath, Sylvia (1932-1963): Ariel
  • Edson, Russell (1935- ): The Tunnel
  • Hass, Robert (1941- ): Praise
  • Hejinian, Lyn (1941- ): My Life (2); Happily
  • Tate, James (1943- ): Selected Poems
  • Jackson, Richard (1946- ): Heartwall 
  • Komunyakaa, Yusuf (1947- ): Dien Cai Dau
  • Stanford, Frank (1948-1978): The Singing Knives
  • Wright, C.D. (1949- ): Deepstep Come Shining
  • Boruch, Marianne (1950- ): A Stick that Breaks and Breaks; Grace, Fallen from
  • Carson, Anne (1950- ): Glass, God, and Irony
  • Graham, Jorie (1950- ): Erosion; The Errancy
  • Howe, Marie (1950- ): What the Living Do; The Good Thief
  • Angel, Ralph (1951- ): Twice Removed
  • Galvin, James (1951- ): Imaginary Timber
  • Young, Dean (1955- ): Fall HigherBender
  • Phillips, Carl (1959- ): Speak Low (2)

 

RELIGIOUS TEXTS

  • The Bible 

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