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The PhD Oral Examination

in the

Victorian Period

(updated 15-November-2007)


Choose roughly 40 of the following units, with substantial selections from at least three of the literary genres, and with a view to proper balance between early and late decades. The lists are intended to give you a broad scope of the writers in the period but not to be exhaustive. Give some thought to changing perceptions of Victoriana since 1901. Consulting recent anthologies should show how authors’ relative standing has shifted and so help you put your own selection in perspective. Please also choose an additional six works of criticism.


Poetry :

Your selection should combine entire volumes or long poetic forms with shorter lyric choices.


Fiction :



Non-Fictional Prose:

N.B.: Given the importance of the periodical press in this period, one or more periodicals might serve in place of an “author” in this category.




Students may optionally include a list of no more than 6 scripts by the following playwrights, reducing their selection from the other literary genres accordingly. Verse dramas, if offered, should appear under the Poetry rubric.


Dion Boucicault, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Wilkie Collins, Alexandre Dumas, W.S. Gilbert, Douglas Jerrold, Henry Arthur Jones, James Sheridan Knowles, Arthur Wing Pinero, James Robinson Planché, Tom Robertson, E.V. Seebohm, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Shirley, George R. Sims, Tom Taylor, Oscar Wilde 



Secondary Works

These are recommended critical readings on the Victorian period. Students should choose six and be prepared to answer questions about them. Secondary works not listed here may be selected in consultation with the area committee chair.