Novel PhD Orals List

The PhD Oral Examination in Novel
(Revised January 2008)




The focus of the examination is on the characteristics that help place individual works within the history of the novel as a genre. The contribution that a novel makes in its management of such formal components as time, voice, and character is no less important than thematic issues. Candidates should be conversant with: the formal elements that enter into the construction of novels; social and historical background; periodization and the definition of major movements; recent developments in the theory of narrative. Although discussion will be wide-ranging, both in terms of literary history and in terms of the varying modes of the novel, candidates may wish to select a larger topic, focus, or concern that can provide an organizing framework for the novel list: e.g., irony, realism, omniscience, the role of politics and empire or the coding of sexuality and gender.


Lists should include forty novels. Two short novels count as one full-length work. Novel and period lists may overlap, but no more than ten works may appear on both lists. Lists must include the following core of novelists in addition to a selection of at least five works outside the Anglo-American tradition:


* Eighteenth Century: Fielding, Richardson, Sterne, two others 

* Gothic: One work 

* Nineteenth Century: Scott, Austen, Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, George Eliot, three others 

* Turn of the Century: Hardy, James, Conrad

* Modern: Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf, Faulkner, two others 

* Recent: Five novelists after 1940 


Lists must also include at least six critical works, two from each section (you may propose alternative texts in any category).


Section A: Foundational texts


M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination (1982) 

Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse (1978) 

Roland Barthes, “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives” (1975) 

Wayne Booth, A Rhetoric of Irony (1974) 

Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970) 

Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961) 

F. R. Leavis: The Great Tradition (1948) 

Erich Auerbach, Mimesis (1946) 

Henry James, The Art of the Novel (1934) 

E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (1927) 

Percy Lubbock: The Craft of Fiction (1921) 

Ortega y Gasset, "A Short Treatise on the Novel" in Meditations On Quixote (1914) 

Georg Lukacs, The Historical Novel (1955) 

Georg Lukacs, Studies in European Realism (1950) 

Georg Lukacs, The Theory of the Novel (1971) 

Tzvetan Todorov, The Poetics of Prose (1971) 

Michael McKeon, Theory of the Novel:A Historical Approach (2000) 

Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg: The Nature of Narrative (1968) 

Alain Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel (1963) 

Raymond Williams, Culture and Society (1958) 

Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel (1957)


Section B: Narrative Theory, Genre Studies


S-Y Kuroda, “Reflections on the Foundations of Narrative Theory” (2014) 

James Phelan and Peter Rabinowitz, eds., Blackwell Companion to Narrative Theory (2008) 

Suzanne Keen, Empathy and the Novel (2007) 

Franco Moretti, Signs Taken for Wonders; Graphs, Maps, Trees (2007) 

John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel (2006) 

Lisa Zunshine, Why We Read Fiction (2006) 

Nancy Armstrong, How Novels Think (2005) 

James Phelan, Living to Tell About It (2005) 

Suzanne Keen, Narrative Form (2003)            

Alex Woloch, The One and the Many (2003) 

H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (2002) 

Dorrit Cohn, The Distinction of Fiction (1999) 

David Herman (ed.), Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis (1999) 

Margaret Doody, The True Story of the Novel (1996) 

Andrew Gibson, Towards a Postmodern Theory of Narrative (1996) 

Adam Zachary Newton, Narrative Ethics (1995) 

Monika Fludernik, The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction (1993) 

Susan Lanser, Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice (1992) 

Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology (1987) 

Peter Rabinowitz, Before Reading (1987) 

Edward Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method (1985) 

Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot (1984) 

F. K. Stanzel, A Theory of Narrative (1984) 

Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction Contemporary Poetics (1983) 

Ann Banfield, Unspeakable Sentences (1982)   

D.A. Miller, Narrative and Its Discontents (1981) 

Gerard Genette, Narrative Discourse (1980) 

Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse (1978) 

Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds (1978) 

R. F. Brissenden, Virtue in Distress: Studies in the Novel of Sentiment (1974) 

Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader (1974) 

William Gass, Fiction and the Figures of Life (1970) 

Kaete Hamburger, The Logic of Literature (1968) 

Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending; The Art of Telling (1966) 

René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel (1961) 

A. A. Mendilow, Time and the Novel (1952) 


Section C: Cultural and Literary History


Erich Kahler, The Inward Turn of Narrative (2017) 

Moretti also edits a 2 volume collection on The Novel (Vol.I: History, Geography and Culture Vol.II: Forms and Theme) (2007) 

Caroline Levine, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense (2003) 

Laurie Langbauer, Novels of Everyday Life (1999) 

Joseph Litvak, Strange Gourmets (1997) 

Julia Stern, The Plight of Feeling (1997) 

Garrett Stewart, Dear Reader: The Conscripted Audience in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (1996) 

Franco Moretti, The Modern Epic: The World System From Goethe To Garcia Marquez (1994) 

Gary Saul Morson, Narrative and Freedom (1994) 

Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (1993) 

Ann Cvetkovich, Mixed Feelings (1992) 

Linda Hughes and Michael Lund, The Victorian Serial (1991) 

Johnathan Freedman, Professions of Taste (1990) 

J. Paul Hunter, Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction (1990) 

Eve Sedgwick, Between Men; Epistemology of the Closet (1990) 

Patricia Meyer Spacks, Novel Beginnings; Desire and Truth (1990) 

Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness (1988) 

Amy Kaplan, The Social Construction of American Realism (1988) 

D.A. Miller, The Novel and the Police (1988) 

Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments (1988) 

Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction (1987) 

Cathy Davidson, Revolution and the Word (1986) 

Catherine Gallagher, The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction (1985) 

J. Hillis Miller, Fiction and Repetition; The Forms of Victorian Fiction (1985) 

Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot (1984) 

Gillian Beer, Darwin’s Plots (1983) 

George Levine, The Realistic Imagination (1981) 

Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Madwoman in the Attic (1979) 

Tony Tanner, Adultery in the Novel (1979) 

Robert Stepto, From Behind the Veil (1979) 

Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own (1977) 

R.F. Brissenden, Virtue in Distress: Studies in the Novel of Sentiment (1974) 

Alan Friedman, The Turn of the Novel (1966) 

Joseph Frank, The Widening Gyre: Crisis and Mastery in Modern Literature (1963) 

Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel (1960) 

Richard Chase, The American Novel and its Tradition (1957)