I have composed a list of my favorite assigned readings as an English major. I did not include any of the interesting written works I’ve read post-grad. The compositions on this list range from 10th-century plays written in Old English to 21st century theoretical essays. I enjoyed reading each of these works for different reasons. For example, I am intrigued by Beaudrillard’s perception of our ability to have an authentic experience, I enjoy the drama in King Lear, I admire the creative manner in which Toni Morrison portrayed aspects of race in “Recitatif” and expressed the diversity of African American experiences in “The Characteristics of Negro Expression”, and I am captivated by the figurative language in Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”. In order to explain what I appreciate about each written work, I’d have to write an essay on each one of them and I did not have the time nor the will to write 18 short essays for this blog post. Nonetheless, each written work is special in it’s own way and it is special in ways that differ for its various readers. 



Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 1925

My Antonia by Willa Cather 1918

White Teeth by Zadie Smith 2000

Short Stories

“Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving 1819

“Bartleby, The Scrivener” by Herman Melville 1853

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1892

“Recitatif” by Toni Morrison 1983

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin 1894

Long Poems

The Emigrants by Charlotte Smith 1793

The Wanderer by Unknown Author (10th century)


King Lear by William Shakespeare (Late 16th – Early 17th century)

Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Early 1600’s)


My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass 1855


“The Characteristics of Negro Expression” by Zora Neale Hurston 1933

“The Precession of Simulacra” by Jean Beaudrillard 2009

“An Indian’s Looking Glass for the White Man” by William Apess 1833

“Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau 1849

“Postmodern Blackness” by Bell Hooks 1900



Kayla Phillips

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