Note status: :evergreen_tree:

In Brief

This is the “field” list for my comprehensive exam, with links to my own reading notes.

It is 35 “work units” long (countable by searching “work Unit1” without a space), as defined in my program’s PhD Program Handbook.

Book title links go to OpenLibrary’s listings, and article title links go to the most open article versions I can find.


Spanning from 1922 to 1998, the works on this list represent a range of modernist and postmodernist genres. Among them are satirical novels (Babbitt), protest novels (Native Son), experimental novels (the U.S.A. trilogy), science fiction television with postmodern elements (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and memoirs (Close to the Knives).

In putting together the list, the themes of the built environment and spatial/social mobility emerged. Agency over one’s own body and the ability to traverse space unimpeded by social restrictions—or the marked lack thereof—appears throughout all of these works. These themes lead to the inclusion of some of the critical works, such as Jurca’s, Miller’s, Rothstein’s, and Soja’s work. A similar theme arose through the tension between ensemble works and novels that hew toward a single character’s perspective, closer to a traditional bildungsroman. For instance, the U.S.A. trilogy, Generation X, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine do not strongly present a single character’s perspective. Other works, such as Babbitt, Native Son, If He Hollers, Let Him Go, Kindred, and Close to the Knives, revolve far more clearly around the experiences of a single character. The ways that racialized and/or minoritized authors write about their experiences informed the inclusion of the less “literary” critical works such as those by Appiah, Gross, Lipsitz, and Mills.


  1. Butler, Octavia. E. Kindred. 1979. Beacon Press, 2004. (287 pp. workUnit1.)
  2. ———. Parable of the Sower. 1993. Grand Central Publishing, 2019. (368 pp. workUnit1.)
  3. ———. Parable of the Talents. 1998. Grand Central Publishing, 2019. (448 pp. workUnit1 + workUnit1.)
  4. Coupland, Douglas. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. St. Martin’s Press, 1991. (192 pp. workUnit1.)
  5. ———. Microserfs. Harper Perennial, 2008. (400 pp. workUnit1.)
  6. Dos Passos, John. 42nd Parallel. 1930. Mariner Books, 2000. (352 pp. workUnit1.)
  7. ———. 1919. 1932. Mariner Books, 2000. (400 pp. workUnit1.)
  8. ———. The Big Money. 1936. Mariner Books, 2000. (464 pp. workUnit1 + workUnit1.)
  9. Himes, Chester. If He Hollers, Let Him Go. 1947. Da Capo Press, 2002. (224 pp. workUnit1.)
  10. Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt. 1922. Oxford UP, 2010. (368 pp. workUnit1.)
  11. Kingston, Maxine Hong. Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book. Vintage, 1990. (352 pp. workUnit1.)
  12. Moseley, Walter. Devil in a Blue Dress. Washington Square Press, 1990. (240 pp. workUnit1.)
  13. Okada, John. No-No Boy. 1957. University of Washington Press, 2014. (264 pp. workUnit1.)
  14. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 6. 1997–1998. Paramount app. (26 episodes. workUnit1 + workUnit1.)
  15. Vonnegut, Kirk. Slaughterhouse-five, or, The Children’s Crusade: a Duty-Dance with Death. 1969. Modern Library, 1994. (240 pp. workUnit1.)
  16. Wojnarowicz, David. Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration. Vintage, 1991. (288 pp. workUnit1.)
  17. Wright, Richard. Native Son. 1940. Harper Perennial, 2023. (544 pp. workUnit1 + workUnit1.)

Theory & Criticism

T & C Books

  1. Cecire, Natalia. Experimental: American Literature and the Aesthetics of Knowledge. Johns Hopkins UP, 2019. (293 pp. workUnit1.)
  2. Denning, Michael. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century. Verso, 1998. (556 pp. workUnit1 + workUnit1.)
  3. Foley, Barbara. Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929–1941. Duke UP, 1993. (459 pp. workUnit1 + workUnit1.)
  4. Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Duke UP, 1991. (438 pp. workUnit1 + workUnit1.)
  5. Jurca, Catherine. White Diaspora: The Suburb and the Twentieth-Century American Novel. Princeton UP, 2001. (238 pp. workUnit1.)
  6. Miller, D.A. The Novel and the Police. U California P, 1989. (240 pp. workUnit1.)
  7. Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. 1992. 1st Vintage ed., 2019. (91 pp. workUnit1.)
  8. Rothstein, Richard. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017. (342 pp. workUnit1.)
  9. Soja, Edward W. Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. Verso, 1989. (266 pp. workUnit1.)

T & C Articles

Batch One = workUnit1

  1. Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial?” Critical Inquiry vol. 17, no. 2, 1991, pp. 336–357. (21 pp.)
  2. Calhoun, Jamie. “Reimagining the Self: Maxine Hong Kingston’s ‘Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book.’” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association vols. 46/47, nos. 2/1, Fall 2013–Spring 2014, pp. 37–53. JSTOR. (27 pp.)
  3. Ermarth, Elizabeth Deeds. “Agency in the Discursive Condition.” History and Theory vol. 40, no. 4, 2001, pp. 34–58. (24 pp.)
  4. ———. “Beyond ‘The Subject’: Individuality in the Discursive Condition.” New Literary Theory vol. 31, no. 3, 2000, pp. 405–419. (14 pp.)
  5. Eve, Martin Paul and Joe Street. “The Silicon Valley Novel.” Literature & History vol. 28, no. 1, 2018, pp. 81–97. BIROn: Birkbeck Institutional Research Online. (16 pp.)

Batch Two = workUnit1

  1. Foucault, Michel. “Panopticism.” Discipline & Punish. 1975. Translated by Alan Sheridan, 2nd ed., Vintage, 1995. pp. 195–228. (33 pp.)
  2. Foster, Tim. “’A Kingdom of a Thousand Princes but No Kings’: The Postsuburban Network in Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs.” Western American Literature vol. 46, no. 3, 2011, pp. 302–324. Project Muse. (22 pp.)
  3. Gross, Ariela J. “Litigating Whiteness: Trials of Racial Determination in the Nineteenth-Century South.” The Yale Law Journal vol. 198, no. 1, 1998, pp. 109–188. JSTOR. (79 pp.)
  4. Hutcheon, Linda. “Discourse, Power, Ideology: Humanism and Postmodernism.” Postmodernism and Contemporary Fiction, ed. Edmund J. Smyth, 1991, pp. 105–122. TSpace. (17 pp.)
  5. Lipsitz, George. “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: Racialized Social Democracy and the ‘White’ Problem in American Studies.” American Quarterly vol. 47, no. 3, 1995, pp. 369–387. (18 pp.)
  6. Mills, Charles W. “Body Politic, Bodies Impolitic.” The Body and the State: How the State Controls and Protects the Body, Part 1, special issue of Social Research vol. 78, no. 2, summer 2011, pp. 583–606. JSTOR. (24 pp.)
  7. Yúdice, George. “The Privatization of Culture.” Social Text no. 59, 1999, pp. 17–34. (17 pp.)

Reading Details

By: Ryan P. Randall
Started: 2024-04-22
Amount read: 5 of 35 works

5 pages
  • :seedling: = emerging note
  • :herb: = established note
  • :evergreen_tree: = evergreen note
  • open access = open access
  • :closed_lock_with_key: = paywalled
  • general web link = general web link

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