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


Erich Auerbach, Mimesis

M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination

Roland Barthes, “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives”; S/Z

Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction; A Rhetoric of Irony

Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse

E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel

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

Henry James, The Art of the Novel

F. R. Leavis: The Great Tradition   

Percy Lubbock: The Craft of Fiction

Georg Lukacs, The Historical Novel; Studies in European Realism; The Theory of     the Novel

Michael McKeon, Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach

Alain Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel  

Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg: The Nature of Narrative

Tzvetan Todorov, The Poetics of Prose

Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel

Raymond Williams, Culture and Society


Section B: Narrative Theory, Genre Studies


       H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative

       Nancy Armstrong, How Novels Think

Ann Banfield, Unspeakable Sentences

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

Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot

Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse   

Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds; The Distinction of Fiction   

Margaret Doody, The True Story of the Novel 

Monika Fludernik, The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction 

William Gass, Fiction and the Figures of Life   

Gerard Genette, Narrative Discourse

Andrew Gibson, Towards a Postmodern Theory of Narrative   

René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel

Kaete Hamburger, The Logic of Literature

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

Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader

Suzanne Keen, Empathy and the Novel; Narrative Form             

Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending; The Art of Telling

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

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

A. A. Mendilow, Time and the Novel

D.A. Miller, Narrative and Its Discontents

Franco Moretti, Signs Taken for Wonders; Graphs, Maps, Trees

Adam Zachary Newton, Narrative Ethics

James Phelan, Living to Tell About It

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

Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology

Peter Rabinowitz, Before Reading

Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics 

Edward Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method;

F. K. Stanzel, A Theory of Narrative

John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel

Lisa Zunshine, Why We Read Novels 

      Alex Wolloch, The One and the Many

Section Three: Cultural and Literary History

      Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction
Gillian Beer, Darwin’s Plots       
      Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness
      R.F. Brissenden, Virtue in Distress: Studies in the Novel of Sentiment
      Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot
      Richard Chase, The American Novel and its Tradition       
      Ann Cvetkovich, Mixed Feelings       
      Cathy Davidson, Revolution and the Word        
      Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel              
      Joseph Frank, The Widening Gyre: Crisis and Mastery in Modern Literature       
      Johnathan Freedman, Professions of Taste 
      Alan Friedman, The Turn of the Novel
      Catherine Gallagher, The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction        
      Linda Hughes and Michael Lund, The Victorian Serial       
      J. Paul Hunter, Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction        
      Erich Kahler, The Inward Turn of Narrative       
      Amy Kaplan, The Social Construction of American Realism        
      Laurie Langbauer, Novels of Everyday Life       
      Caroline Levine, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense       
       George Levine, The Realistic Imagination         
       Joseph Litvak, Strange Gourmets       
       D.A. Miller, The Novel and the Police       
       J. Hillis Miller, Fiction and Repetition; The Forms of Victorian Fiction
       Franco Moretti, The
Modern Epic: The World System From Goethe To Garcia Marquez;
            Moretti also edits a 2 volume collection on The Novel (Vol.I: History, Geography and Culture Vol.II: Forms and Theme)
       Gary Saul Morson, Narrative and Freedom 

       Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments
       Eve Sedgwick, Between Men; Epistemology of the Closet
       Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own
       Garrett Stewart, Dear Reader: The Conscripted Audience in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction
       Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Madwoman in the Attic
       Patricia Meyer Spacks, Novel Beginnings; Desire and Truth
       Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism 
       Robert Stepto, From Behind the Veil
       Julia Stern, The Plight of Feeling
       Tony Tanner, Adultery in the Novel 
       Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs
       Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism 
       Cynthia Wall, The Prose of Things
       Robyn Warhol, Gendered Interventions: Narrative Discourse in the Victorian Novel