Nominate Texts for the Honors Exam

Hi everybody. Let’s start a conversation about the reading list for the Honors exam. Post titles and authors for three texts you would like to see on the list as a comment to this post. I’ll collate all the suggestions, and we will work together to come up with a list of ten texts.

You should consider the following as you make your suggestions:

  1. The list should represent a variety of texts in terms of genre, historical context, length, authors’ identities, and cultural / national contexts.
  2. The list should include texts that work well for essays on genre, theory, and historical context.
  3. One option is to suggest a set of short texts by a single writer–for example, three or four short stories or poems.
  4. You should feel free to suggest texts on our syllabus and texts that are not.
  5. It’s a good idea to suggest texts that inspire or excite you.

Just a reminder: The Honors Committee will supply the other half of the list. The committee will make decisions about that list after we’ve finalized your list.

Nominated Texts

Austen, Pride and Prejudice (x2)
Austen, Emma
Bechdel, Fun Home
Brontë, Wuthering Heights
Beagle, The Last Unicorn
Bechdel, Fun Home
Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Brand, In Another Place, Not Here
Brooks, “Negro Hero”
Capote, In Cold Blood
Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Dickinson, “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain” (x2)
Dickinson, “The Brain Is Wider than the Sky”
Donahue, Room
Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
Ellison, Invisible Man (x4)
Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (x2)
Grandin, The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s
Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
Greenidge, We Love You, Charlie Freeman (x3)
Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Huxley, Brave New World
Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
King, Mile 81
Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Lodge, Thinks…
Melville, Benito Cereno
Morrison, Beloved
Morrison, Paradise
Morrison, “Recicatif”
Nabokov, Lolita
Norman, Night, Mother
O’Hara, “A Step Away from Them”
O’Neill, A Long Day’s Journey into Night
Palahniuk, Fight Club
Poe, “The Tell Tale Heart”
Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream”
Roy, The God of Small Things
Saadawi, Women at Point Zero
Salinger, Nine Stories
Shakespeare, Macbeth
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (x2)
Shakespeare, The Tempest
Shanley, Doubt: A Parable
Schmid, The Basket of Flowers
Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Stassburg, Tristan and Isolde
Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
Wells, A Time Machine
Wharton, The House of Mirth
Whitman, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”
Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (x2)
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilson, Fences


  1. Here are my suggestions:

    To Kill a Mockingbird . . . Harper Lee 1960
    Room . . . Emma Donahue 2010
    A Step Away from Them . . . Frank O’Hara (From Lunch Poems) 1964

    1. To Kill a Mockingbird:
      Harper Lee’s classic, although literarily canonical, suites our purposes because it probes the mind of the first-person narrator – Scout. She narrates from an adult point of view looking backward, so we are able to witness both the pre-adolescent child mind and the adult mind simultaneously.
      Also told by the child protagonist, it is a story (based on a real case) of mental stress and resilience. Both the child (Jack) and his mother (Ma) must come to grips with their severely changing realities, changes that nearly do them in. PTSD, is one factor especially for the mother.
      A Step Away from Them:
      Frank O’Hara’s poem is autobiographical (therefore also first person), a kind of running commentary on his lunch hour walk — the people he encounters and his thoughts about each of them. O’Hara writes a lot about art and music and the artists and musicians who inhabit his social circle. His poems often read as if they are a piece of Improv Jazz, or a Splatter of Pollack paint. Another mind-game poem of his is “Why I am Not a Painter.”

  2. Do these readings have to be associated with the course’s themes of mind and brain? I concur that TKAM is a piece of literary value that would probably be useful for both historical context and genre. Plus it’s just a good book!

  3. 1. Women at Point Zero by Nawal el Saadawi

    2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

    3. Tristan and Isolde by Gottfried Von Strassburg

  4. I have one more:
    The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s
    by Temple Grandin

  5. 1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    2. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    3. “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain” by Emily Dickinson
    Extra Suggestion: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (a personal favorite of mine)

  6. I really like the Lisa’s suggestion of Room and Michelle’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and The Picture of Dorian Gray.
    My suggestions are:

    “The Tell Tale Heart”- Edgar Allan Poe
    Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk
    and The Last Unicorn-‎Peter S. Beagle
    (Bonus Suggestion: The Phantom Tollbooth-Norton Juster because of it’s quest for both puns and consciousness/identity)

  7. 1. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
    2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Phillip K. Dick
    3. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

  8. 1) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    2) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    3) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

    1. This is Chani. I’m not logged on right now, but I wanted to “defend” my texts. I nominated “Recicatif” by Toni Morrison, as it’s not a long work, has cultural significance (it’s about two women growing up together and apart. One is white and the other is black, but you never find out which is which. It’s a social commentary, I suppose). It has ties to the feminist movement, and it talks about a bunch of social issues between the women’s respective communities over a long period of time. Even if it’s not chosen, I suggest you give it a read.

      I nominated Pride and Prejudice or Emma because these novels are great examples of Victorian literature. They’re also hilarious, and fall pretty neatly into certain genres (which I don’t know the proper names for. I never took a genre class. Sue me).

      I nominated Salinger’a Nine Stories (or perhaps just one (if so, go with For Esme with Love and Squalor or De Daumier Smith’s Blue Period). The stories are very moving, very short, and are filled with symbolism. They also fall into post WWI literature.

      Good luck, guys! Be well!

  9. The texts I second or agree with are:
    Austen, Pride and Prejudice
    Dickinson, “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain”
    Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

    The texts I suggest are:
    Whitman, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”
    Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    Shanley, Doubt: A Parable

    I also did rather enjoy Lodge’s Thinks. I would second this if someone added it to the list.

  10. The texts I would like to nominate are:
    – Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    – The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde
    – Fences, by August Wilson
    – ‘Night, Mother, by Marsha Norman (if we don’t pick it, you should all read this play anyway)
    – Long Day’s Journey Into Night, by Eugene O’Neill (This one too)
    – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Shakespeare
    – Macbeth, by Shakespeare
    – “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by Eliot

    Not all of these completely fit with the theme of the course, but they’re all amazing. I tried to fill in the gaps of what we did not have. I have a lot more dramas at my disposal if we need more suggestions. Also, I was going to suggest some other works, but they have already been nominated so I’m happy to see we’re all thinking along similar lines!

  11. Brandon’s nominated texts

    We Love You, Charlie Freeman, by Kaitlyn Greenidge (2016)
    Thinks …, by David Lodge (2001)
    Paradise, by Toni Morrison (1997)
    Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

    -Any of the Emily Dickinson we’ve read.
    Negro Hero, by Gwendolyn Brooks (1945)
    A dream within a dream, by Edgar Allan Poe (1849)

    The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid (2007)
    Mile 81, by Stephen King (2011)

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Shakespeare (1605?)
    The Tempest, by Shakespeare (1611?)

  12. The texts I am nominating are:
    Fun Home – Alison Bechdel (My genre class read this book and I found it super fascinating. It dealt with the genre of elegies but also the different forms that an elegy or any genre can take and how the form can add to your reading and understanding.

    Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

    We Love You, Charlie Freeman -Kaitlyn Greenidge

  13. Benito Cereno, Herman Melville

    The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

    In Another Place, Not Here, Dionne Brand

    Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury.
    Or almost any of his short stories like “The Veldt,” “The Exiles,” or “Once More, Legato” (a few I can think of that might relate to this class)

  14. I would like to second the nomination for Room as well as Pride and Prejudice.
    My suggestions are:
    1. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
    2. The Basket of Flowers by Christoph von Schmid
    3. Beloved by Toni Morrison
    Poems: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost & “The Brain Is Wider than the Sky” by Emily Dickinson

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