Basic Reading List

Recommended Basic Readings in American Studies

It is recommended that students purchase their own copies of all titles marked with an "*".

I. Reference Works on American Literature

  • Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994-.
  • Elliott, Emory, ed. Columbia Literary History of the United States. New York: Columbia UP, 1988.
  • Hart, James D., and Philip Leininger, eds. The Oxford Companion to American Literature. Sixth Ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.
  • Parini, Jay, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 2004.
  • Ruland, Richard, and Malcolm Bradbury. From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature. New York: Viking Penguin, 1991.
  • Zapf, Hubert, ed. Amerikanische Literaturgeschichte. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1997.

II. Anthologies of American Literature

  • * Baym, Nina, et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Sixth Edition Shorter. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.
  • Baym, Nina, et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. (5 volumes) Sixth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.
  • Lauter, Paul, gen. ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. (5 volumes) Fifth Edition. Lexington: D.C. Heath, 2006.
  • Lehman, David, ed. The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 2006.
  • Updike, John, and Katrina Kenison, eds. The Best American Short Stories of the Century. New York: Mariner Books, 2000.

III. Literary Texts

  • John Winthrop, "A Model of Christian Charity" (1630).
  • Anne Bradstreet, "The Author to Her Book" (1650).
  • Phillis Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America" (1773).
  • Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography (1771-90, 1868).
  • Thomas Jefferson, "The Declaration of Independence" (1776).
  • Washington Irving, "Rip van Winkle" (1819). 
  • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1845).
  • Henry David Thoreau, "Resistance to Civil Government" (1849)
  • Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven" (1845), "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839).
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown" (1835), * The Scarlet Letter (1850).
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851), "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1853).
  • Emily Dickinson, "Much Madness is divinest Sense—," "I heard a Fly buzz—when I died," "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—" (publ. posthumously, 1955).
  • Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" (1860), "When I Heard the Lern'd Astronomer" (1865), "Song of Myself" (1881).
  • Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881).
  • * Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892).
  • Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat" (1897).
  • Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899).
  • Robert Frost, "Mending Wall" (1914).
  • T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915).
  • Eugene O’Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night (1940). 
  • * F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925).
  • William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929).
  • Ernest Hemingway, The Sun also Rises (1926).
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).
  • * Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (1947).
  • * Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949).
  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952).
  • Martin Luther King, "I Have a Dream" (1963).
  • Allen Ginsberg, "Howl" (1956).
  • Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962).
  • John Barth, "Life Story" (1968).
  • * Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (1977).
  • August Wilson, Fences (1986).
  • Louise Erdrich, "Fleur" (1986).
  • Thomas Pynchon, Vineland (1990).
  • Wendy Wasserstein, The Heidi Chronicles (1990).
  • Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991)
  • * Tony Kushner, Angels in America (1992).
  • Philip Roth, The Human Stain (2000).

IV. American Civilization

  • Brogan, Hugh. The Penguin History of the USA. New York: Penguin Books Ltd., 2001.
  • Campbell, Neil, and Alasdair Kean. American Cultural Studies: An Introduction to American Culture. Second. ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Luedtke, L.S. ed. Making America: The Society and Culture of the United States. Chapel Hill: The U of North Carolina P, 1992.
  • * Mauk, David and Oakland, John. American Civilization: An Introduction. Fourth ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.
  • Sklar, Robert. Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies. Revised and updated. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.