Comprehensive Exam Lists

Comprehensive Exams List Major Field: African American Literature, from Slavery to Civil Rights

Literature from Slavery to Freedom

  1. Phillis Wheatley- Poems of Various Subjects, Religious and Morals by Phillis Weatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley of Boston (1773; 1777)
  2. Oladuh Equiano, The Interesting narrative in the Life of Oladuh Equiano (1789)
    1. Mark Stein, “Olaudah Equiano:  Representation and Reality,” in Early American Literature 38/3 (2003)
    2. Vincent Carretta, “Questioning the Identity of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African,” in Felicity A. Nussbaum, The Global Eighteenth Century (2005)
  3. Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1793)
  4. The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831)
  5. Victor Sejour, “The Mulatto” (1837)
  6. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar” (1837); “An Address at Divinity College” (1838); “Self Reliance” (1841)
  7. Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845); “The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro, Speech Rochester, NY July 5, 1852”
  8. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
  9. William Wells Brown, Clotel: or, the President’s Daughter, a Narative of Slave Life in the United States (1853)
  10. Herman Melville, “Benito Cereno” (1856)
  11. Frank J. Webb, The Garies and Their Friends (1857)
  12. Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

Reconstruction to the New Negro

  1. Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century; with a History of her Labors and Correspondence Drawn from her “Book of Life” (1878)
  2. Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South (1892)
  3. Frances E. W. Harper, Iola Leroy: Or, Shadows Uplifted in Three Classic African American Novels (1892)
  4. Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and The Tragedy of Puddin’ Head Wilson (1893)
  5. Kate Chopin, “Desiree’s Baby” (1893)
  6. Paul Laurence Dunbar, “An Antebellum sermon” (1895); “We Wear the Mask” (1895); “Sympathy” (1899)
  7. Charles Chesnutt, The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line (1899); The Conjure Woman and Other tales (1899); The Marrow of Tradition (1901)
  8. W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
  9. Pauline Hopkins, Of One Blood (1902-1903)
  10. Gertrude Stein, “Melanctha” (1909)
  11. James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912)

Harlem Renaissance

  1. Langston Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (1921); “Dream Variations” (1924; 1926); “Bad Man” (1927); The Ways of White Folks (1934)
  2. Marcus Garvey, “African for the Africans” (1923)
  3. Jean Toomer, Cane (1923)
  4. Countee Cullen, “Yet Do I Marvel” (1925); “Heritage” (1925); “The Black Christ” (1929)
  5. Alain Locke, The New Negro: An Interpretation (1925)
  6. Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing (1928)
  7. Claude McKay, Home to Harlem (1928)
  8. Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun (1929)
  9. George Schuyler, Black No More (1931)
  10. William Falkner, Light in August (1932); Absalom! Absalom! (1935)
  11. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

Interwar Period

  1. Richard Wright, Native Son (1940); Uncle Tom’s Children (1938)
  2. Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945)
  3. Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Sundays of Satin-Legs Smith” (1945); “The Mother” (1945); “Gay Chapes at the Bar”
  4. Ann Petry, The Street (1946)
  5. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
  6. James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955); Giovanni’s Room (1956); The Fire Next Time (1963)


  1. Zora Neale Hurston, “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934)
  2. Richard Wright, “Blueprint for Negro Writing” (1937)
  3. Mikhail Baktin “Carnival and the Carnivalesque” from Rabelais and His World (1964)
  4. Nathan Huggins, The Harlem Renaissance (1971)
  5. Larry Neale, “Some Reflections on the Black Aesthetic” (1972)
  6. Charles Davis & Henry Louis Gates, The Slave’s Narrative (1991)
  7. David Levering Lewis, When Harlem Was In Vogue (1997)
  8. Werner Sollors, Neither Black nor White, yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature (1997)
  9. Brent Hayes Edwards, “The Practice of Diaspora” (2008)
  10. Farrah Jasmine Griffin, “Who Set You Flowin’?”: The African American Migration Narrative (1995)
  11. Mia Bay and Farrah Griffin, Toward An Intellectual History of Black Women (2015)

Comprehensive Exams Major Field African American Literature: Civil Rights, Speculative and Contemporary Fiction

Black Arts Movement/ Civil Rights

  1. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (1962)
  2. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963); “Speech at Riverside Church”; Martin Luther King Speeches
  3. Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones, “As Agony As Now”; “Black Dada Nihilismus”; “Hymn for Lanie Poo;” “In Memory of Radio”; “Somebody Blew Up America”; Dutchman and The Slave, Two Plays (1964); Preface to a 20 volume Suicide Note; Blues People; Home
  4. Malcom X, “The Ballot or the Bullet” (1964), Speeches
  5. Nikki Giovanni, “Nikki Rosa” (1968); “Beautiful Black Men” (1965); “Ego Trippin’”
  6. Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969)
  7. Norton Anthology of African American Literature, Volume 2
    1. Melville Towson, “Dark Symphony”; “The Birth of John Henry”; “Satchmo”
    2. Robert Hayden, “Homage to the Empress of the Blues,” “Frederick Douglass”
    3. Margaret Walker, “For My People,” “For Malcolm X”; “Prophets for a New Day”
    4. Adrienne Kennedy, Funnyhouse of a Negro
    5. Henry Dumas, ”Black Star Line,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”
    6. Jayne Cortez, “How Long Has Trane Been Gone”
    7. Larry Neale, “The Black Arts Movement”
    8. Sonia Sanchez, “homecoming,” “A/Coltrane/Poem,” “A Poem for My Brother”
    9. June Jordan, “Poem about My Rights,” “Poem about Police Violence”
    10. Michael Harper, “Dear John, Dear Coltrane,” “History as Apple Trees”

Afro-futurism/Speculative Fiction

  1. E.B. Du Bois, “The Comet” (1920)
  2. Samuel R. Delany, Nova (1968)
  3. Sam Greenlee, The Spook Who Sat By the Door (1969)
  4. Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (1972)
  5. Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979); Parable of the Sower (1993); Parable of the Talents (1998)
  6. Mark Dery, “Black To the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose.” Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture. (1994)
  7. Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998); So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy (2004)
  8. Gregory Rutledge, “Futurist Fiction & Fantasy: The Racial Establishment” (2001)
  9. Sheree R. Thomas, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora (2001)
  10. Reynaldo Anderson, Afrofuturism 2.0 & the Black Speculative Arts Movement: Notes on a Manifesto. Obsidian, 42 (1/2) 2016
  11. André M. Carrington, Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction (University of Minnesota Press, 2016)
  12. Sami Schalk, Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction. (Duke University Press, 2018)


  1. Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970); Song of Solomon (1977) Beloved (1987);
  2. Albert Murray, Train Whistle Guitar (1974)
  3. Alice Walker, Meridian (1976)
  4. Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters (1980)
  5. Ntozke Shange, For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (1982); Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo (1982)
  6. Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982)
  7. Rita Dove, “Parsley” (1983); “The Oriental Ballerina” (1986); “History” (1995)
  8. Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place (1983)
  9. Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John (1985); A Small Place (1988)
  10. Gayl Jones, Corregidora (1987)
  11. Charles Johnson, Middle Passage (1990)
  12. Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994); Brother, I’m Dying (2007)
  13. Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father (1995)
  14. Kevin Young, “Langston Hughes,” (1999) “Anthem,” “Exodus”
  15. Tayari Jones, Leaving Atlanta (2002); An American Marriage (2018);
  16. Walter Mosley, The Man in the Basement (2003)
  17. Edward P. Jones, The Known World (2003)
  18. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013)
  19. Claudia Rankine, Citizen (2014)
  20. Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World: A Memoir (2015)
  21. Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016)
  22. Victor LaValle, The Changeling (2017)
  23. Leone Ross, Come, Let Us Sing Anyway (2017)


  1. Lawrence Levine, Black Culture, Black Consciousness (1971)
  2. Stephen Henderson, Understanding the New Black Poetry: Black Speech and Black Music as Poetic References (1973)
  3. Barbara Christian, Black Feminist Criticism: Perspectives on Black women Writers (1985)
  4. Houston Baker, Blues Ideology and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory (1987)
  5. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. (1988)
  6. Robert Stepto, From Beyond the Veil (1991)
  7. Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1993)
  8. Deborah E. McDowell, “The Changing Same”: Black Women’s Literature, Criticism and Theory (1995); “Black Feminist Thinking: The Practice of Theory” (1995)
  9. Hortense Spillers, Black, White and in Color Essays on American Literature and Culture (2003)
  10. Margo Natalie Crawford, Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and 21st Century Aesthetic (2017)

Comprehensive Exam List, Minor Field: Media Studies and Comic Studies

Graphic Novels

  1. Alan Moore, Watchmen (New York: DC Comics, 1986)
  2. Alan Moore, V for Vendetta (New York: DC Comics, 1988)
  3. Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus (Pantheon Books, 1996)
  4. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (Paris: L’Association, 2003)
  5. Marguerite Ouberie, Aya Vol. 1 (Gallimard jeunesse, 2005)
  6. Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
  7. Mat Johnson, Incognegro (Dark Horse Books, 2008)
  8. Kyle Baker, Nat Turner (New York: Abrams, 2008)
  9. Kelly Sue DeConnick, Bitch Planet, Vol. 1 & 2 (Image Comics, 2015 & 2017)
  10. Marjorie Liu, Monstress 1: Awakening (Berkeley: Image Comics, 2016)
  11. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Panther Volume 1 (New York: Marvel Comics, 2016)
  12. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell, March triology (Top Shelf Productionss, 2016)
  13. James Braxton Peterson & John Jennings, Prison Industrial Complex for Beginners (Danbury, CT: For Beginners, 2016)
  14. Octavia Butler ad. Damian Duffy & John Jennings, Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation (New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2017)
  15. Kwanza Osajyefo, BLACK Volume 1 (Los Angeles: BlackMask Studio, 2017)
  16. Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey, World of Wakanda Volume 1 (New York: Marvel Comics, 2017)


  1. Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Random House, 2012)

Comic Criticism

  1. Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (Tundra Publishing, 1994)
  2. Scott McCloud, Reinventing Comics (Paradox Press, 2000)
  3. Bradford W. Wright, Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001)
  4. Will Eisner, Comics and Sequential Art (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008)
  5. Heer and Worcester, A Comic Studies Reader (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2009)
  6. Adlifu Nama, Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011)
  7. Harry Brod, Superman Is Jewish?: How Comic Book Superheroes Came to Serve Truth, Justice, and the Jewish-American way (New York: Free Press, 2012)
  8. Sean Howe, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (HarperPerennial, 2012)
  9. Brannon Costello and Qiana J. Whitted, Comics and the U.S. South (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2013)
  10. Sheena Howard & Ronald L. Jackson, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013)
  11. Julian C. Chambliss and Thomas Donaldson, Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men: Superheroes and the American Experience (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013)
  12. Dan Mazur & Alexander Danner, Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present (London: Thames & Hudson, LTD, 2014)
  13. Hillary Chute and Patrick Jagoda eds. Comics and Media: A Special Issue of “Critical Inquiry” (2014)
  14. Joseph Darowski, X-Men and the Mutant Metaphor: Race and Gender in the Comic Book (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014)
  15. Jill Lepore, The Secret History of Wonder Woman (New York: Vintage Books, 2014)
  16. Deborah Whaley, Black Women In Sequence: Re-Inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2015)
  17. Ramzi Fawaz, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (New York: New York University Press, 2015)
  18. Frances Gateward & John Jennings, The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015)
  19. Carolyn Cocca, Superwomen: Gender, Power and Representation. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)
  20. Hillary Chute, Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere (New York: HarperCollins, 2017)
  21. John Jennings & Damian Duffy, Black Comix Returns (Lion Forge, 2018)

Canonical Media Studies

  1. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (MIT Press, 1964)
  2. Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers (New York: Routledge, 1992)
  3. Jay David Bolter & Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999)
  4. Manovich, Language of New Media (MIT Press, 2001)
  5. Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001)
  6. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, The New Media Reader (MIT Press, 2003)
  7. Wendy Chun, Updating to Remain the Same (MIT Press, 2008)
  8. Nick Mirzeoff, The Right To Look (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011)
  9. Lev Manovich, “How to Compare One Million Images” (2011)

Black Media

  1. Chinua Achebe, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’” (1977)
  2. Frederick Douglass “Pictures and Progress” in Blassingame, John (ed): The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series One: Speeches, Debates and Interviews, Volume 3. (1979); “Pictures”
  3. Stuart Hall, “Encoding/Decoding” (1980) in Remodelling Communication: From WWII to the WWW, Gary Genosko (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012); “New Ethnicities” (1992); Stuart Hall, “What is this ‘Black’ in Black Popular Culture?” Social Justice 20, no. ½ (Spring-Summer 1993): 104-114
  4. Anna Everett, Returning the Gaze: A Genealogy of Black Film Criticism, 1909-1949 (2001); Anna Everett, “Have We Become Postracial Yet? Race and Media Technology in the Age of President Obama” in ed. Lisa Nakamura & Peter A. Chow-White Race After the Internet (2011)
  5. Jeffery A. Brown, Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics, and Their Fans (Studies in Popular Culture) (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2001)
  6. Shawn Michelle Smith, Photography on the Color Line (Durham, Duke University Press, 2004)
  7. Richard Iton, In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post Civil Rights Era. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)
  8. Beth Coleman, “Race as Technology” Camera Obscura 24, no. 1 (2009): 176-207.
  9. Simone Brown, Dark Matters: On Surveillance of Blackness, “Lantern Laws” (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015)
  10. Kim Gallon, “Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities” (2016)
  11. Safiya Umoja Noble, “Searching for Black Girls” in Algorithms of Oppression (2018)

Comprehensive Exam List, Minor Field: African American History and Intellectual Thought since Reconstruction

  1. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892)
  2. E.B. Du Bois, The Philadelphia Negro (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1899, 1996); Black Reconstruction (New York: The Free Press, 1935, 1962)
  3. Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery (New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1901, 1995)
  4. Langston Hughes, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926)
  5. Franklin Frazier, The Negro Family in the United States (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1939); Black Bourgeoisie: The Book that Brought the Shock of Self-Revelation to Middle-Class Blacks in America (New York: Free Press, 1957)
  6. Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper & Row, 1944)
  7. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks. (London: Pluto, 1952); Wretched of the Earth (New York, grove Press, 1965)
  8. Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Ballantine Books, 1964)
  9. United States Department of Labor Office of Policy Planning and Research, “The Negro family: The Case for National Action” (1965)
  10. Alan H. Spear, Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890-1920 (1967)
  11. Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (New York, Random House 1967)
  12. Eldrige Cleaver, Soul on Ice (New York: Dell Publishing, 1968)
  13. Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-education of the Negro. (Washington: Associated Publishers, 1969)
  14. Angela Y. Davis, An Autobiography (New York: International Publishers, 1974, 1988); Women, Race, Class (New York: First Vintage Books Edition, 1983); Angela Y. Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (New York: First Vintage Books Edition, 1999)
  15. William Julius Wilson, The Declining Significance of Race: Black and changing American Institutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978)
  16. Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981)
  17. Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (New York: Ten Speed Press, 1984, 2007)
  18. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, “African American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race” Signs, 17, No. 2 (Winter, 1992) pp. 251-274; “Metalanguage of Race: Then and Now” Signs, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Spring 2017) pp. 628-642
  19. William Van de Burg, New Day in Babylon: The Black Power movement and American Culture, 1965-1975 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992)
  20. Cornel West, Race Matters (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993, 2001, 2017)
  21. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color” in Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller and Kendall Thomas (1995), 357-383
  22. Thomas J. Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (1996)
  23. Tera W. Hunter, To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998)
  24. Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: Routledge, 2000)
  25. bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2000); Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice (New York: Routledge, 2013)
  26. Manning Marable, Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000); Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945-2006 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007); Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Viking Press, 2011)
  27. Robin D. G. Kelly, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002)
  28. Deirdre A. Royster, Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men From Blue-Collar Jobs (2003)
  29. Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2006)
  30. Paula J. Giddings, Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching (New York: Amistad, 2008)
  31. Peniel E. Joseph, Bright Days, Bright Nights: from Black Power to Barack Obama (New York: BasicCivitas Books, 2010)
  32. John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011)
  33. Michele Alexander, The New Jim Crow (New York: The New Press, 2012)
  34. Eduardo Porter, “Numbers Tell of Failure in Drug War,” New York Times, July 3, 2012
  35. “U.S. has the World’s Highest Incarceration,” Population Reference Bureau, August 2012
  36. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015)
  37. Stuart Hall, Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016)
  38. Claudrena N. Harold, New Negro Politics In the U.S. South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016)
  39. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2016)
  40. “Fact Sheet: Trends in U.S. Corrections,” The Sentencing Project (2016)

My attempt at joining the Academy

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