20th-Century American Literature

What follows is a list of the primary texts upon which you will be tested. The purpose of the list is to reduce the amount of material on which you will be asked direct questions to a representative and practical size. It is not to limit the depth and breadth of your reading. Obviously, reading other primary texts, historical studies, and secondary criticism is one of the best ways of preparing to discuss the content and form of at least these works, and to give some account of the place of each in its historical and critical context.

Fiction and Autobiography

  • Gertrude Stein ― Three Lives
  • Willa Cather ― My Antonia
  • Sherwood Anderson ― Winesburg, Ohio
  • Ernest Hemingway ― The Sun Also Rises
    "Big Two-Hearted River"
    "Hills Like White Elephants"
  • Jean Toomer ― Cane
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald ― The Great Gatsby
  • William Faulkner ― The Sound and the Fury
  • Katherine Anne Porter ― "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"
  • Zora Neale Hurston ― Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • John Steinbeck ― The Grapes of Wrath
  • Flannery OíConnor ― "Everything that Rises Must Converge" "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
  • Richard Wright ― Native Son
    Black Boy
  • Ralph Ellison ― Invisible Man
  • James Baldwin ― Notes of a Native Son
    Going to Meet the Man
  • Tillie Olsen ― Tell Me a Riddle
  • Jack Kerouac ― On the Road
  • Thomas Pynchon ― The Crying of Lot 49
  • John Barth ― Lost in the Funhouse
  • Toni Morrison ― Sula
    Song of Solomon
  • Maxine Hong Kingston ― Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Girlhood Among Ghosts
  • Louise Erdrich ― Tracks
  • Richard Rodriguez ― Hunger of Memory
  • Sandra Cisneros ― The House on Mango Street
  • Tim O'Brien ― The Things They Carried
  • Charles Johnson ― Middle Passage
  • Sherman Alexie ― Reservation Blues


  • Tennessee Williams ― The Glass Menagerie
    A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Arthur Miller ― Death of a Salesman
  • Eugene OíNeill ― Long Day's Journey into Night
  • Lorraine Hansberry ― A Raisin in the Sun
  • Edward Albee ― Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • David Mamet ― Glengarry Glen Ross
  • August Wilson ― The Piano Lesson
  • Luis Valdez ― Zoot Suit


(Selections in the Norton Anthology of American Literature, vols. D and E, 6th edition or more recent)

  • E. A. Robinson
  • Robert Frost
  • Ezra Pound
  • T. S. Eliot
  • William Carlos Williams
  • Wallace Stevens
  • E. E. Cummings
  • Langston Hughes
  • Claude McKay
  • Countee Cullen
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • Theodore Roethke
  • Robert Hayden
  • Robert Lowell
  • Allen Ginsberg
  • James Wright
  • Amiri Baraka
  • Adrienne Rich
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
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