M.A. (Theory) Examination Modules:

Instructions for students (November, 2015): below, you will find the latest versions of the modules prepared by the faculty for your M.A. examination. Each of you is to choose two modules and to ask members of the graduate group with competence in the areas in question to join your examination committee. Your exam will cover main theory list and your two modules. During preparation for the exam in the spring, you are encouraged to meet at least once with your examiners to discuss your reading.

As you will note, the lists below are in varying stages of finalization. The ideal module should have ten and only ten items of “manageable” length (an article, a chapter or two of a book, a selection of a long work). It should not overlap with the main list or with your other module. Once you have selected the modules for your exam, you should consult with your examiner to refine your list (and to modify it if necessary) to bring it into correspondence with these guidelines. As a rule of thumb, you and your examiner may agree to substitute up to three items in any list with other items of your selection. The Postcolonial Studies list represents an exception to this guideline: it is designed to be more thoroughly customized using a separate list of recommended additional materials (see the separate addendum).

Many possible areas of specialization with strong representation among Penn’s faculty and curricula are not represented here (Material Texts, Medieval Studies, Sociological Approaches to Literature, Theory of the Novel, Science and Technology Studies, etc.). If you need a module that has not yet been created, please speak with Graduate Chair and/or with any faculty member concerning the creation of a list.

Finally, when you have constructed your lists, please send the finalized version to the Graduate Chair, so that refinements in modules may be entered into this document (selections of longer texts, addenda to lists, etc.). Additionally, please find or create the subfolder in the Canvas site for our M.A. Exam materials relating to your module and upload the materials for your list to the site.


Black/Pan-African Feminisms
Examiners: Rita Barnard, Lydie Moudileno

1. Audre Lorde – “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”
2. Suzanne Césaire – “Le Grand Camouflage” and “Malaise d’une Civilization”
3. Maryse Condé – “Négritude césairienne, Négritude senghorienne” and “Pourquoi la négritude ? Négritude ou révolution?”
4. Angela Y. Davis – Women, Race and Class
5. Chandra Talpade Mohanty – “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses”
6. Francoise Lionnet – “Feminisms and Universalisms : Universal Rights and the Legal Debate around the practice to female excision in France”
7. Ann Laura Stoler – “Colonial Studies and the History of Sexuality”
8. Assia Djebar – Women of Algiers in their Apartment
9. Buchi Emecheta – “Feminism with a Small ‘f’”
10. Ama Ata Aidoo – “To Be an African Woman Writer – an Overview and a Detail”


Classical Studies
Examiners: Rita Copeland, Sheila Murnaghan, Ralph Rosen, Emily Wilson

1. James Porter, “What is ‘Classical’ about Classical Antiquity: Eight Propositions” (Arion 13.1.2005)
2. Gorgias, Helen (recommended translation: R. K. Sprague)
3. Aristophanes, Frogs (recommended translation: Jeffrey Henderson in the Loeb series)
4. Plato, Cratylus
5. Philodemus, On Poems (Fragments from Book 1, translations in Janko’s edition, Oxford 2000).
6. Cicero, De Oratore, 2
7. Hesiod, Theogony, 1-115
8. Plutarch, “How the Young Should Study Poetry”
9. Quintilian, Books 8 and 9
10. Porphyry-Cave of the Nymphs


Communications, Systems, Networks
Examiners: Eric Hayot (Penn State University)

1. Alexander Bogdanov, Tektology, or the Universal Science of Organization,
2. Norbert Weiner, Cybernetics, or Communication and Control in the Animal and the Machine, Preface, Introduction, Chapter VII, Chapter VIII
3. Claude Shannon, "A Mathematical Theory of Communication,"
4. John von Neumann, "First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC,"
5. James Gleick, The Information: A Theory, A History, A Flood, Prologue, Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 13
6. Niklas Luhmann, Introduction to Systems Theory, Part I and II
7. Ludwig von Bartalanffy, General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications, Chapter 1, 2 and 8
8. Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society, Prologue, Part I, Part 6, Part 7, Conclusion
9. Alexander Galloway, Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization, Part I, Conclusion
10. John Durham Peters, The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media, Chapters 1, 6, 7, and Conclusion


Gender and Sexuality Studies
Examiners: Heather Love

1. Leo Bersani, “Is the Rectum a Grave?”
2. Judith Butler, “Critically Queer” and “Against Proper Objects”
3. Roderick Ferguson, “Introduction” (Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique)
4. Audre Lorde, “The Uses of the Erotic”
5. José Esteban Muñoz, “Introduction” (Cruising Utopia)
6. Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”
7. Gayle Rubin, “The Traffic in Women” and “Thinking Sex”
8. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Axiomatic” (Epistemology of the Closet) and “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading” (Touching Feeling)
9. Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, "Sex in Public"
10. "History's Queer Touch: A Forum on Carolyn Dinshaw's Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern," Journal of the History of Sexuality, Volume 10, Number 2, April 2001


Genre Theory
Examiners: Rebecca Bushnell, Tim Corrigan, Michael Gamer, Emily Wilson

1. Philip Sidney, Defense of Poesy
2. John Dryden, “Essay on Dramatic Poesy”
3. Northrup Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism (essay on theory of genres)
4. Gérard Genette, The Architext
5. Jacques Derrida, "The Law of Genre," Critical Inquiry (1980)
6. Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination (chapters on the epic and the novel and speech genres)
7. Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious (on romance)
8. Franco Moretti, Modern Epic (Part One)
9. Catherine Gallagher, “The Rise of Fictionality,” in Franco Moretti anthology on The Novel
10. Rick Altman, Film/Genre, pp. 1-68


Examiners: Rebecca Bushnell, Simon Richter

1. Raymond Williams, “Nature,” in Keywords
2. Bruno Latour, Politics of Nature (Chapter One)
3. Stacy Alaimo, “Transcorporal Feminisms and the Ethical Space of Nature,” in Material Feminisms
4. Timothy Morton, Ecology without Nature (Introduction and Chapter 1)
5. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Chapter 1)
6. Lawrence Buell, The Environmental Imagination (Parts 1 and 2)
7. Ursula Heise, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Part 1)
8. Dana Philips, “Ecocriticism, Literary Theory, and the Truth of Ecology, NLH 20 (1999), 577-602
9. Robert Pogue Harrison, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization
10. Jacques Derrida, “The Animal That Therefore I Am,” in Cary Wolfe, Zoontologies


Examiners: Gerry Prince

1. Roland Barthes. "An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative" and S/Z.
2. Wayne C. Booth. The Rhetoric of Fiction, 2d ed. (U of Chicago Press), pp. 149-65.
3. Gérard Genette. Narrative Discourse.
4. David Herman. "Scripts, Sequences, and Stories: Elements of a Postclassical Narratology." PMLA 112 (1997): 1046-59.
5. William Labov. Language in the Inner City, chapter 9.
6. Susan Lanser. "Toward a Feminist Narratology." Style 20 (1986): 341-63.
7. Vladimir Propp. Morphology of the Folktale, 2d ed. (U. of Texas Press), pp. 19-83.
8. Paul Ricœur. "Narrative Time." Critical Inquiry 1 (1980): 169-90.
9. Marie-Laure Ryan. Possible Worlds, Artifical Intelligence and Narrative Theory, chapters 6 and 8.


Media Studies
Examiners: Charles Bernstein, Tim Corrigan

1. Sergei Eisentstein, “Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today”
2. Friedrich Kittler, from Film, Gramophone, Typewriter
3. André Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image”
4. Peter Wollen, “The Auteur Theory”
5. Stuart Hall, “Encoding/Decoding”
6. Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” and “Afterthoughts on ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’”
7. Lev Manovich, “What Is Digital Cinema’
8. Henry Jenkins, “Transmedia Stoytelling”from Convergence Culture
9. Hamid Naficy, “Situating Accented Cinema”


Media Theory: Publics and Reception
Examiners: Rahul Mukherjee

1. Michael Warner -- "Publics and Counterpublics" in Public Culture
2. John Guillory -- “Genesis of the Media Concept”
3. Miriam Hansen – “Early Cinema, late cinema: Permutations of the Public Sphere”
4. Lauren Berlant – “Introduction: The Intimate Public Sphere” from The Queen of America Goes to Washington City
5. Stuart Hall – Encoding/Decoding
6. Zizi Papacharissi -- Affective Publics (Introduction)
7. Anthony McCosker -- "Trolling as provocation: Youtube's agonistic publics," Convergence

8. Len Ang -- Desperately Seeking the Audience (Introduction)

9. Danah Boyd -- "Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications," in Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (ed. Zizi Papacharissi), pp. 39-58
10. Grant Bollmer -- "Technolological Materiality and Assumptions about the Active Human Agency," Digital Culture and Society
11. Janice Radway – Reading the Romance (Introduction)
12. Rita Felski -- The Uses of Literature, (Ch. 2 “Enchantment”)
13. John Frow – Charater and Person (preface, ch. 1 and 3)
14. Hans Robert Jauss -- “Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory” in Towards an Aesthetics of Reception

Modernist Studies
Examiners: Charles Bernstein, Tim Corrigan, Kevin M. F. Platt, Paul Saint-Amour

1. Harry Levin, “What Was Modernism?” Massachussetts Review 1.4 (Summer 1960): 609–30.
2. Peter Burger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. Michael Shaw (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).
3. Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity (1982; Penguin, 1989), Introduction and Parts II & III.
4. Houston Baker, “Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance,” American Quarterly 39.1 (Spring 1987): 84–97.
5. Raymond Williams, Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists (London: Verso, 1989), 31–64.
6. Fredric Jameson, “Modernism and Imperialism,” in Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, and Edward Said, Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1990
7. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993), chapter 1 and “A Note on Modernism.”
8. Rita Felski, “Modernity and Feminism,” in The Gender of Modernity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).
9. Miriam Hansen, “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism,” Modernism/modernity 6.2 (April 1999): 59–77.
10. Susan Stanford Friedman, “Periodizing Modernism: Postcolonial Modernities and the Space/Time Borders of Modernist Studies,” in Modernism/modernity 13.3 (September 2006): 425–43.


Examiners: Charles Bernstein, Tim Corrigan

1. Thoreau, Walden
2. Jose Marti, "Our America"
2. Mallarmé, "Crisis in Verse"
3. Russian Futurist manifestos: "A Slap in the Face to Public Taste" & Velimir Khlebnikov, manifestos ("We accuse the older generation ...,: "The Word as Such," "The Letter as Such")
4. Tzara, "Dada Manifesto"; Breton, Surrealist Manifesos; Breton and Trotsky, “Manifesto: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art”
5. Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp
6. Williams, Spring and All
7. Stein, "Composition as Explanation," Lectures in America
8. Pound, "A Retrospect"
9. Oswald de Andrade: "Manifesto da Poesia Pau-Brazil" (Brazil Wood Manifesto) & “Anthropophagite Manifesto” ("Manifesto Antropófago")
10. Paul Celan, "The Meridian," "Conversation in the Mountains," Breman prize speech
11. Olson, "Projective Verse"
12. Rich, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience" & "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying"


Examiners: Liliane Weissberg

1. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (excerpts: “Dream Techniques”; 1899/1900)
2. Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905)
3. Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” (1919)
4. Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)
5. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (1930)
6. Joan Riviere, “Womanliness as Masquerade” (1929)
7. Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage” (1936)
8. Jacques Lacan, “The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason Since Freud” (1957)
9. Melanie Klein, “Narrative of a Child Analysis” (1961)

Postcolonial studies
NB: please consult the addendum of suggested additional texts to be used to create a more geographically specific postcolonial studies list with relation to Africa, the Americas, South Asia, etc.
Examiners: Ania Loomba

1. Edward W. Said, Orientalism, London and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978.
2. Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory, Classes, Nations, Literatures, London: Verso, 1992.
3. Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, trans. C. Farrington, New York: Grove Press, 1963
4. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, translated by Charles Lam Markmann, New York, Grove Press, 1967.
5. Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York and London: Routledge, 1995.
6. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism’, Critical Inquiry 12: 1 1985 : pp. 243–261.
7. Dipesh Chakrabarty, ‘Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History, Who Speaks for “Indian” Pasts?’, Representations 37 Winter: 1992, pp. 1–24.
8. Gyan Prakash, ‘Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism’, American Historical Review 99 (5), December: pp. 1475–1490
9. Natalie Melas, All the Difference in the World Postcoloniality and the Ends of Comparison, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.
10. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, ‘Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses’, Feminist Review 30 Autumn 1988: pp. 61–102
11. Homi K. Bhabha, ‘Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority under a Tree Outside Delhi, May 1817’, Critical Inquiry 12 (1), Autumn: 1985, pp. 144–165.


Race Studies
Examiners: Ania Loomba

1. Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, New York: Norton, 1996
2. W. E. B Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk (many online editions)
3. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, translated by Charles Lam Markmann, New York, Grove Press, 1967.
4. Verena Stolcke, ‘Is sex to gender as race is to ethnicity’? in Teresa del Valle ed., Gendered Anthropology (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), 17-37
5. James H. Sweet, “The Iberian Roots of American Racist Thought’ in William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, LIV: 1 (Jan. 1997).
6. Stuart Hall, “Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance’ and ‘New Ethnicities’, in D. Morley and K. H. Chen (eds), Stuart Hall, Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, London and New York: Routledge, 1996, pp. 441–449.
7. John Rex, ‘Theory of Race Relations: A Weberian Approach’, in Sociological Theories, Race and Colonialism, Paris: Unesco, 1980 pp. 116–142.
8. Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).
9. Angela Y Davis, Women, Race and Class, London: Women’s Press, 1092.
10. Hortense Spillers, ‘Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book’, Diacritics 17: 1987 pp. 65–71.
11. Etienne Balibar, ‘Is there a Neo-racism?’ in E. Balibar and I. Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class, Ambiguous Identities, London and New York: Verso, 1988 , 17-28
12. Michael Omi and Howard Winant Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. (New York: Routledge, 1994).


Spatial Theory
Examiners: Andrea Goulet, Ann Norton, Kevin M. F. Platt, Paul Saint-Amour, David Wallace

1. Augé, Marc. Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, trans. John Howe. London: Verso, 1995. Prologue, “From Places to Non-Places,” and Epilogue.
2. De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven F. Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. Part III: Spatial Practices (Chs. 7-9).
3. Devji, Faisal. Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity. Preface and Ch. 3 ("Monotheistic Geographies")
4. Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces,” trans. Jay Miskowiec, diacritics 16.1 (Spring 1986): 22-27; and "Space, Knowledge, and Power" in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon, 1982: 239-56
5. Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Ch.1
6. Gregory, Derek. Geographical Imaginations. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. Part I: Strange Lessons in Deep Space (Ch. 1 “Geography and the World-as-Exhibition” and Ch. 2 “Geography and the Cartographic Anxiety”)
7. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.
8. Heidegger, Martin. “Building, Dwelling, Thinking,” in Poetry, Language, Thought. trans. Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper Colophon, 1971.
9. Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991. Ch. 1: “Plan of the Present Work.”
10. Massey, Doreen. Space, Place, and Gender. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. Part III: Chs. 8-11.


Examiners: Gerry Prince and Andrea Goulet

1. Barthes. "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative"
2. Benveniste. "Subjectivity in Language" and "The Semiology of Language"
3. Genette. "Structuralism and Literary Criticism" (In Figures of Literary Discourse)
4. Greimas. "The Elementary Structure of Signification" and "Reflections on Actantial Models" (In Structural Semantics)
5. Lacan. "Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter'"
6. Lévi-Strauss. Structural Anthropology, vol I, pp. 1-80.
7. Mukarovsky. "The Concept of the Whole in the Theory of Art" (In Structure, Sign, and Function)
8. Todorov. "Definition of Poetics" (In Introduction to Poetics)


Structuralism to Deconstruction
Examiners: Andrea Goulet, Gerry Prince

1. Barthes. "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative" and S/Z
2. Benveniste. "Subjectivity in Language" and "The Semiology of Language"
3. Derrida. "The Purveyor of Truth"
4. Genette. "Structuralism and Literary Criticism" (In Figures of Literary Discourse)
5. Greimas. "The Elementary Structure of Signification" and "Reflections on Actantial Models" (In Structural Semantics)
6. Lacan. "Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter'"
7. Lévi-Strauss. Structural Anthropology, vol I, pp. 1-80.
8. de Man. "The Rhetoric of Blindness"


Trauma Studies
Examiners: Kevin Platt, Liliane Weissberg, David Eng, David Kazanjian

1. Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in: The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 18, 1-64.
2. Melanie Klein, “Love, Guilt and Reparation,” in: Melanie Klein and Joan Riviere, Love, Hate and Reparation (New York: Norton, 1964), 57-119.
3. Cathy Caruth, “Introduction: The Wound and the Voice,” and “Chapter One: Unclaimed Experience: Trauma and the Possibility of History,” Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History (Johns Hopkins UP, 1996), 1-24.
4. Dominick LaCapra, “Chapter Two: Trauma, Absence, Loss,” Writing History, Writing Trauma (Baltimore: JHU Press, 2001), 43-85.
5. Ruth Leys, “I: Freud and Trauma,” and “VIII: The Pathos of the Literal,” Trauma: A Genealogy (Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 18-40, 266-297.
6. Eric L. Santner, “History Beyond the Pleasure Principle: Some Thoughts on the Representation of Trauma,” in: Friedlander, ed., Probing the Limits of Representation, 143-54.
7. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian, eds., Loss: The Politics of Mourning (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 1-25.
8. Judith Butler, Precarious Life: ‪The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2006), 1-49.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
9. Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 2009), 1-32, 227-273.
10. Stef Craps, “The Trauma of Empire,” and “The Empire of Trauma,” Post-colonial Witnessing (New York: Palgrave, 2013), 9-14, 20-33

Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania