Exit Exam Reading List
Dear Mount St. Mary’s College English major:
During your senior year (or possibly during your junior year), you will take a course called English Seminar. As part of our ongoing efforts to maintain a high level of quality, the Mount St. Mary’s College English Department has begun administering an Exit Exam to all students in the seminar. It’s a 90-minute, multiple-choice, content-based exam that asks you questions about texts and authors from various periods of English and American literature.
The purpose of this exam is simply to allow us, as a department, to assess how well we’re doing as we prepare our English majors. Your performance will not affect your GPA or your overall standing with the college. However, those who score especially high on the exam will have the opportunity to graduate with departmental honors.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled the below reading list that will help you prepare for the exam. We recommend that you save the list somewhere handy and refer back to it frequently during your time at the Mount. Then, as your time in English Seminar approaches, you can more intentionally focus on reviewing the information on the Reading List, so you can perform on the exam as well as possible, and possibly be rewarded for your efforts.
For the exam, you won't be expected to have memorized minor details about every text on this list. You should, however, have at least a basic knowledge of each work, understanding fundamental characteristics like plot, main characters, theme, structure, and so on.
You can see the texts below, and on this printable PDF.
English Literature (Beowulf to 1700)
- "The Dream of the Rood"
- "Caedmon’s Hymn"
- "The Battle of Maldon"
- "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"
- Geoffrey Chaucer. "The General Prologue," "The Miller’s Tale," "The Pardoner’s Tale," and "The Nun’s Priest’s Tale" from The Canterbury Tales
- "The Second Shepherd’s Play"
- Thomas Malory.Le Morte d'Arthur (Selections in the Norton Anthology of English Literature)
- Thomas More. Utopia
- Wyatt and Surrey. Poems in the Norton Anthology of English Literature
- Christopher Marlowe. The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus
- Edmund Spenser. The Faerie Queen (Selections in the Norton Anthology of English Literature)
- William Shakespeare. Hamlet, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Macbeth
- John Milton. "L'Allegro," "Il Penseroso," "Lycidas," "Paradise Lost" (Selections in the Norton Anthology of English Literature)
- John Donne. Poems in the Norton Anthology of English Literature
- Ben Jonson. "Volpone"
- John Dryden. "Absalom and Achitophel," "MacFlecknoe"
- Samuel Butler. Hudibras (Selections in the Norton Anthology of English Literature)
- Aphra Behn. Oroonoko
English Literature (1700-1950)
- Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels, "A Modest Proposal"
- Alexander Pope. “The Rape of the Lock,” “An Essay on Man,” “An Essay on Criticism”
- George Gordon, Lord Byron. Don Juan, Canto I
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Frost at Midnight”
- John Keats. “Ode on Melancholy,” “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “Ode to a Nightingale”
- William Wordsworth. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” “Tintern Abbey,” “Ode: Intimations of Immortality,” “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads”
- Percy Bysshe Shelley. “Ode to the West Wind,” “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”
- John Stuart Mill. “The Subjection of Women”
- Henrik Ibsen. A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler
- Robert Browning. “My Last Duchess,” “Fra Lippo Lippi”
- Matthew Arnold. “Dover Beach”
- Alfred Lord Tennyson. “In Memoriam, A. H. H.”
- George Eliot. “Middlemarch”
- Leo Tolstoy. Anna Karenina
- Fyodor Dostoevsky. Crime and Punishment
- Emily Bronte. Wuthering Heights
- Charles Dickens. Great Expectations
- Mary Shelley. Frankenstein
- Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice
- Dylan Thomas. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”
- W. B. Yeats. “The Second Coming,” “Sailing to Byzantium”
- Aristotle. The Poetics
- Sir Philip Sidney. “An Apology for Poetry”
American Literature (through 1945)
- Benjamin Franklin. Poor Richard’s Almanac
- Thomas Jefferson. “The Declaration of Independence”
- William Apess. "An Indian's Looking-Glass for the White Man"
- Jonathan Edwards. “A Personal Narrative,” “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
- Washington Irving. “Rip Van Winkle”
- Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter
- Henry David Thoreau. Walden
- Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn
- Walt Whitman. “Song of Myself,” “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson. "The American Scholar," "Self Reliance"
- Frederick Douglass. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
- Emily Dickinson. “After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes,” “I Died for Beauty---but Was Scarce,” “I Heard a Fly Buzz---When I Died,” “I Never Lost as Much But Twice,” “My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close,” “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church,” “Success is Counted Sweetest,” “Tell All the Truth, but Tell it Slant,” “These are the Days When Birds Come Back,” “There's a Certain Slant of Light”
- Robert Frost. “The Road Not Taken”
- T. S. Eliot. “The Wasteland”
- Sylvia Plath. “Lady Lazarus,” “Daddy”
- William Faulkner. As I Lay Dying
- J. D. Salinger. Catcher in the Rye
- Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms
- F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby
- Maya Angelou. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man
- Herman Melville. Moby Dick
- Tennessee Williams. Streetcar Named Desire
- Arthur Miller: The Crucible
- Upton Sinclair. The Jungle
- Henry James. Washington Square
Contemporary American and British Literature
- Flannery O’Connor. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
- Anthony Burgess.A Clockwork Orange
- George Orwell. 1984
- Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird
- Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart
- Tom Stoppard.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
- Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot
- Eugene O’Neill.Long Day’s Journey Into Night
- Arthur Miller.Death of a Salesman
- Lorraine Hansberry.Raisin in the Sun
- David Henry Hwang. M. Butterfly
- Allen Ginsberg. “Howl”
- Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a Dream," "I've Been to the Mountaintop"
- Frances Ford Coppola.The Godfather, Parts 1 and 2
- Toni Morrison.Beloved
- Zora Neale Hurston.Their Eyes Were Watching God
- Jack Kerouac.On the Road
- Philip Roth.Goodbye, Columbus
- Vladimir Nabokov.Lolita
- Don DeLillo.White Noise
- The Harlem Renaissance
- Beat Poetry
- Mock epic
- Heroic couplet
- Iambic pentameter
- Reader response theory
- The New Historicism