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Module Reading List

Prose: Reading and Interpretation, 2019/20, Semester 1
Professor Michael Brennan
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue


Charles Dickens, Night Walks (Penguin Great Ideas)

Henry James, Tales of Henry James, Selected and edited by Christof Wegelin and Henry B. Wonham (Norton Critical Edition)

Virginia Woolf, Flush, edited by Kate Flint (1933; Oxford World’s Classics, 2009)

Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny, edited by Hugh Haughton and Translated by David McClintock (Penguin)

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Turkish Embassy Letters, edited by Anita Desai (Virago, 1994)

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (Penguin)

Maxine Hong Kingston, The woman warrior : memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts (Picador, 1981; Vintage USA, 1989)

Secondary Reading List 

No-one expects you to read everything on the following list. Equally, you don’t have to confine your reading to texts included here, and you should feel free to explore more widely to find things to read that interest and inspire you. Independent reading is an important part of this module: as you go through the course, you’re expected to seek out and learn from the writings of earlier critics and scholars. This bibliography is intended to help guide you through that process. It’s a collection of the books and essays that this year’s teaching team, and their colleagues who have taught on the module in the past, recommend most highly. It’s far from exhaustive, but we hope you’ll find it useful. 

Remember that understanding any critical work on a given primary text presupposes your possessing a thorough knowledge of that primary text. 

And remember: the works listed here can expand, enhance and challenge your reading of a primary text, but they can never replace it. 


There are a great many introductory guides to literature and literary theory available in the libraries. The texts in this section include a handful of the best works in that genre, together with some other suggested starting points. They’re all stimulating, provocative and entertaining reads that should enrich your thinking about what it means to be starting on an English degree. 

Barry, Peter, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, 3rd edn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009)

Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 3rd edn (Harlow: Pearson, 2004)

Collini, Stefan, What Are Universities For? (London: Penguin, 2012)

Culler, Jonathan, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). Available online.

Eagleton, Terry, Literary Theory: An Introduction, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996). Also available online.

Lodge, David, Nice Work (London: Penguin, 1989)

Jeff Nunokawa, Notebook (Princeton University Press, 2015)

Wilde, Oscar, ‘The Critic as Artist’, in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed. by Vincent B. Leitch and others, 2nd edn (New York: Norton, 2010), pp. 794–807. Also available online:

Studying English 

These are texts that offer orientation, guidance, and practical advice. They include lucid guides to what’s expected from English students at university, authoritative overviews of ‘English literature’, and reference books that will elucidate words, concepts and allusions that might otherwise be mystifying. These are especially useful books to have readily to hand, so you might consider buying one or two of them (you should already own a good dictionary). See also the page of useful links available on the VLE.

Baldick, Chris, The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). Available online.

Birch, Dinah, ed., The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 7th edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). Available online.

Cavanagh, Dermot, and others, eds, The Edinburgh Introduction to Studying English Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010)

Chantler, Ashley, and David Higgins, eds, Studying English Literature (London: Continuum, 2010)

Macey, David, The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory (London: Penguin, 2001)

MHRA Style Guide: A Handbook for Authors, Editors, and Writers of Theses, 2nd edn (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2008). Available online.

Warburton, Nigel, The Basics of Essay Writing (London: Routledge, 2007)

Young, Tory, Studying English Literature: A Practical Guide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Charles Dickens and Night Walks 

Beaumont, Matthew, Nightwalking (London: Verso, 2016)

Koven, Seth, Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).

Flint, Kate, Dickens (Brighton: Harvester, 1986)

Furneaux, Holly, Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Hillis Miller, J., Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958)

Jaffe, Audrey, Vanishing Points: Dickens, Narrative, and the Subject of Omniscience (Berkley: University of California Press, 1991)

John, Juliet, Dickens and Mass Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Jordan, John O. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens (Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Ledger, Sally, and Holly Furneaux, eds, Charles Dickens in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Mackenzie, Hazel, and Ben Winyard, eds, Charles Dickens and the Mid-Victorian Press (Bukingham: Unversity of Buckingham Press, 2013).

Parrinder, Patrick, ‘“Turn Again, Dick Whittington!”: Dickens, Wordsworth, and the Boundaries of the City’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 32 (2004), 407-419.

Seed, David, ‘Touring the Metropolis: The Shifting Subjects of Dickens’s London Sketches’, Yearbook of English Studies, 34 (2004), 155-70.

Slater, Michael, Charles Dickens (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009)

Tambling, Jeremy, Going Astray: Dickens and London (London: Pearson, 2009)

Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973).

Wolfreys, Julian, Dickens’s London: Perception, Subjectivity and Phenomenal Urban Multiplicity (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012)  

Henry James, Tales of Henry James: ‘The Aspern Papers’, ‘The Pupil’, ‘The Art of Fiction’ 

Our edition, Tales of Henry James, selected and edited by Christof Wegelin and Henry B. Wonham, comes with an excellent selection of material related to ‘The Aspern Papers’, ’The Pupil’ and ‘The Art of Fiction’. This includes material from James’s Notebooks, from his Prefaces to his New York Edition and criticism by Michael Moon, William Veeder and Philip Horne. The following might also be useful and/or interesting:  

Roland Barthes, ‘The Death of the Author’ – available in the Foundations module coursebook.

Millicent Bell “The Unmentionable Subject in ‘The Pupil’” in The Cambridge Companion to Henry James, Jonathan Freedman ed., (Cambridge UP, 1998)

Robert Casserio, ‘Anti-Social James’ Henry James Review, 31. 1 (2010), 7-13

Denis Flannery, Henry James: A Certain Illusion (Burlington VT and Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2000)

_____ ‘Absence, Resistance and Visitable Pasts: David Bowie, Todd Haynes, Henry James’, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 31. 4 (2017), 542-551.

Fred Kaplan, Henry James: The Imagination of Genius (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1992)

Henry James, Letters from the Palazzo Barbaro (London: Pushkin Press, 1999)

Francis O’Gorman, ‘“Fabulous and Illusive”: Giorgione and Henry James’s The Aspern Papers (1888)’, The Henry James Review, 27.2 (2006), 175-87

Richard Salmon, Henry James and the Culture of Publicity (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997)

Eric Savoy, ‘Aspern’s Archive’ The Henry James Review, 31. 1 (2010), 61-67

Andrew Schreiber, ‘The Origin of Texts: “The Art of Fiction” as Evolutionary Manifesto’, The Henry James Review, 33. 1 (2012), 53-67

Kathryn Bond Stockton, “Eve’s Queer Child” in Regarding Sedgwick: Essays on Queer Culture and Critical Theory, Stephen M. Barber and David L. Clark eds. (Routledge, 2002) 

Virginia Woolf and Flush 

Bowlby, Rachel, Virginia Woolf: Feminist Destinations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988)

Feminist Destinations and Further Essays on Virginia Woolf (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997). pp. 49–61.

Bowlby, Rachel, ed., Virginia Woolf (Harlow: Longman, 1992)

Bradbury, Malcolm, The Social Context of Modern English Literature (Oxford: Blackwell, 1971)

Bradbury, Malcolm, and James McFarlane, eds, Modernism: A Guide to European Literature, 1890-1930, new edn (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991)

Carey, John, The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (London: Faber and Faber, 1992)

Ellman, Richard, and Charles Feidelson, eds, The Modern Tradition: Backgrounds of Modern Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965)

Hussey, Mark, ed., Virginia Woolf and War: Fiction, Reality, and Myth (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1991)

Levenson, Michael, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Available online.

Roe, Sue, and Susan Sellars, eds, The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Available online.

Squier, Susan, Virginia Woolf and London: The Sexual Politics of the City (University of North Carolina Press, 1985), especially chapter 6.

Woolf, Virginia, On Women & Writing (London: Women’s Press, 1979)

 _____ ‘Modern Fiction’, in The Common Reader: First Series, ed. by Andrew McNeillie (London: Hogarth, 1984) 

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters 

Srinivas Aravamudan, 'Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in the hammam: masquerade, womanliness, and Levantinization', ELH 62:1 (1995), 69-104

Isabel Armstrong, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Comet of Enlightenment (New York: Clarendon, Press, 1999)

Elizabeth Bohls, Women Travel Writers and the Language of Aesthetics, 1716-1818 (1995), (23-45)

_______. 'Aesthetics and Orientalism in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's letters', Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 23 (1994) 179-205

Jill Campbell, ‘Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Historical Machinery of Female Identity’ in Beth Fowkes Tobin ed., History, Gender and Eighteenth-Century Literature (London: University of Georgia Press, 1994), 64-85

Wendy Frith, ‘Sex, Smallpox and Seraglios’ in Gill Perry and Michael Rossington eds., Femininity and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century Art and Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), 98-122

Teresa Heffernan, 'Feminism against the East/West divide: Lady Mary's Turkish Embassy Letters', Eighteenth-Century Studies, 33:2 (2000) 201-15

Cynthia Lowenthal, 'The Veil of Romance: Lady Mary's Embassy Letters', Eighteenth-Century Life 14:1 (1990), 66-82 Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

 Marcia Pointon, ‘Killing Pictures’ in John Barrell ed., Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 39-72

 James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time 

Sean Butorac, “Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, and the Politics of Love,” Political Research Quarterly 71:3 (2018).

Terrance Dean, “Fire This Time: James Baldwin, Futurity, and a Call and Response,” Black Theology 14:1 (2016).

Kenneth Warren, What Was African American Literature? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012)

Maxine Hong Kingston and The Woman Warrior

Yen Li Loh, “Ghosts, Marriage, and Madness: The Immigrant Symbolic, Pregnancy as Feminine Epistemology, and the Death Drive in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior,” Journal of Asian American Studies 21:2 (2018). Qiong He, “Reconstructing the Past: Reproduction of Trauma in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior,” Theory and Practice in Language Studies 9:2 (2019)

Skandera-Trombley, Laura E., Critical Essays on Maxine Hong Kingston (New York: G. K. Hall, 1998)

Skenazy, Paul, and Tera Marin, eds, Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998)


Abbott, H. Porter, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2008)

Attridge, Derek, and Jane Elliott, eds, Theory After “Theory” (London: Routledge, 2011)

Auerbach, Erich, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, trans. by Willard R. Trask, 50th anniversary edn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003)

Barthes, Roland, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, trans. by Richard Howard (London: Vintage, 2002)

 ――― ‘From Work to Text’, in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2nd edn, ed. by Vincent B. Leitch and others (New York: Norton, 2010), pp. 1326–31

Bennett, Andrew, The Author (London: Routledge, 2005)

Benstock, Shari, ed., The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women’s Autobiographical Writings (London: Routledge, 1988)

Bhabha, Homi K., ed., Nation and Narration (London: Routledge, 1990). See especially Bhabha’s own essay, ‘DissemiNation: Time, Narrative and the Margins of the Modern Nation’.

Brooks, Peter, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994)

Butler, Judith, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004)

Cavarero, Adriana, Relating Narratives: Storytelling and Selfhood, trans. by Paul A. Kottman (London: Routledge, 2000)

Chatterjee, Partha, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (London: Zed Books, 1986)

――― The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993)

Culler, Jonathan, On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983)

Currie, Mark, Difference (London: Routledge, 2004)

De Man, Paul, Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 1993)

Dentith, Simon, Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader (London: Routledge, 1995)

Derrida, Jacques, ‘The Law of Genre’, Critical Inquiry, 7 (1980), 55-81. Available online.

――― Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, trans. by Peggy Kamuf (New York: Routledge, 1994)

Eakin, Paul John, How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999)

Ellman, Maud, ed., Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism (London: Longman, 1994)

Ermarth, Elizabeth Deeds, Realism and Consensus in the English Novel: Time, Space and Narrative (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998)

Felman, Shoshana, ed., Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Question of Reading Otherwise (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982)

Gandhi, Leela, Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998) 

Grant, Damian, Realism (London: Methuen, 1970)

Harman, Graham, ‘The Well-Wrought Broken Hammer: Object-Oriented Literary Criticism’, New Literary History, 43 (2012), 183–203. Available online.

Holquist, Michael, Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World (London: Routledge, 1990)

Innes, C. L., ‘Forging the Conscience of their Race: Nationalist Writers’, in New National and Post-Colonial Literatures: An Introduction, ed. by Bruce King (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 120–39. Available online.

Jacobus, Mary, Psychoanalysis and the Scene of Reading (Oxford: Clarendon, 1999)

Jameson, Fredric, ‘The Political Unconscious’, in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2nd edn, ed. by Vincent B. Leitch and others (New York: Norton, 2010), pp. 1822–46

Johnson, Barbara, Persons and Things (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008)

Kearney, Richard, On Stories (London: Routledge, 2002)

Lanham, Richard A., Analyzing Prose, 2nd edn (London: Continuum, 2003)

Lazarus, Neil, Nationalism and Cultural Practice in the Postcolonial World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Lodge, David, The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Typology of Modern Literature (London: Edward Arnold, 1979)

McLeod, John, Beginning Postcolonialism, 2nd edn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010)

Miller, D. A., Bringing Out Roland Barthes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992)

Murray, Stuart, ed., Not On Any Map: Essays on Postcoloniality and Cultural Nationalism (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997). See especially Murray’s ‘Introduction’.

Rushdie, Salman, ‘Is Nothing Sacred?’, in Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism, 1981–1991 (London: Granta, 1991), pp. 415–29

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985)

―――, Epistemology of the Closet, updated edn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008)

Thiong’o, Ngugi Wă, Taban Lo Liyong and Henry Owuor-Anyumba, ‘On the Abolition of the English Department’, in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2nd edn, ed. by Vincent B. Leitch and others (New York: Norton, 2010), pp. 1995–2000

Turner, William B., A Genealogy of Queer Theory (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000)

Vice, Sue, Introducing Bakhtin (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997)

Watt, Ian, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding, 2nd American edn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)

Williams, Patrick, and Laura Chrisman, eds., Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993). See Frantz Fanon, ‘On National Culture’, and Amilcar Cabral, ‘National Culture and Liberation’.

This list was last updated on 28/08/2019