Comprehensive Exam Reading Lists

Comprehensive Exam Reading Lists

Graduate Academic Information

Exam Area Reading Lists


The following lists will guide your studying. They will provide examiners and exam-takers with a common body of literature, so that you will know not precisely what questions will be asked, but what literary, critical, and theoretical sources will enable you to respond knowledgeably to the questions that are asked.

The sit-down exams test how well you "think on your feet," as you must when responding to questions at an academic conference, for instance, or to the intellectual curiosity of your students. Reading with the guidance of the lists will help you reinforce what you've learned in courses, build on your strengths, fill in gaps in your knowledge, and begin to organize all you know in ways meaningful and memorable to you.

Although the lists recommend anthologies you might consult, please read the literature in critical editions too, so as to get a clearer sense of a poet's oeuvre, for instance; you will then be in a better position to evaluate the choices represented by an anthology before you teach from it yourself. Don't feel locked into the lists; they are a starting point for your own reading and exploration. Do keep in mind, though, the importance of balancing breadth and depth. The sit-down questions ask you to write comparative essays with awareness of historical, cultural context and a good grasp of key critical sources. So draw plenty of connections as you study and be mindful of how historical, theoretical, and critical sources enrich your interpretations.

Seek out faculty members in your sit-down exam areas for guidance on how best to prepare, given the field you have selected and your own background and interests.

 

 

Department of English
6th floor Sprau Tower
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5331 USA
(269) 387-2572 | (269) 387-2562 Fax