M.A. Exam Reading Lists

At least one semester before taking their exam, MA candidates must select three of the following categories for their subject fields.  Every candidate must also identify three full-time faculty to serve as MA committee members with each faculty overseeing preparation for one of the three subject fields. The subject fields are:

1. Gender and Sexuality

2. Race and Ethnicity

3. Work and Class

4. Institutions and Ideals

5. The National and the Global

6. Culture and Environment

7. Consumption and Leisure

8. Alternative Field of Study

Students who entered the MA Program before Fall 2016 Semester have the option of using an older set of lists that can be found herePDF File

In consultation with the faculty members on his or her committee, a candidate must select and read a minimum of ten books from each of the three chosen categories. Also, in consultation with faculty, a student may substitute a maximum of two books outside the list for each subject field. 

Candidates will have four days (four consecutive 24 hour periods) to write three essays—one essay for each of the chosen subject fields.  Each essay must be a minimum of ten double-spaced pages. 

The faculty member responsible for each section of the exam will provide two questions for that section.  The two questions for each section will be of two types:

A.  A question asking students to examine scholarly methods of understanding cultural processes. These are questions of theory and method, requiring students to critically evaluate how scholars approach evidence and how scholars have explored this subject field.

B.  A question asking students to examine cultural processes in history.  These are questions of content, requiring students to analyze the dynamics of cultural interaction and change over time.

To insure methodological and historical coverage, students must choose one A-type question for any subject field and one B-type question for another subject field.  They may select either A or B for the remaining subject field. 




I. Gender and Sexuality

Morgan, Jennifer L.  Laboring Women:  Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher.  A Midwife’s Tale:  The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812.  New York: Vintage, 1991.

Lyons, Clare. Sex Among the Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender & Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Hurtado, Albert. Intimate Frontiers: Sex, Gender, and Culture in Old California. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.

Cleves, Rachel Hope. Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America.  Oxford University Press, 2014.

Godbeer, Richard. Sexual Revolution in Early America.  Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Godbeer, Richard. The Overflowing of Friendship: Love between Men and the Creation of the American Republic.  Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Stansell, Christine. City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1986.

Dunbar, Erica Armstrong. A Fragile Freedom; African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2011.

Mooney, Katherine C. Race Horse Men:  How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Race Track.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014.

West, Emily.  Chains of Love: Slave Couples in Antebellum South Carolina.  Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Horowitz, Helen. Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America.  New York:  Vintage, 2004.

Gilmore, Glenda. Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Enstad, Nan.  Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: Working Women, Popular Culture, and Labor Politics at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Chauncey, George. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

Kasson, John. Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man:  The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America.  New York: Hill and Wang, 2002. 

Diamond, Lisa. Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 2009.

McGuire, Danielle. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power.  New York: Vintage, 2011.

Simmons, Christina. Making Marriage Modern: Women's Sexuality from the Progressive Era to World War II.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2011.

Matsumoto, Valerie J. City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles, 1920-1950.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Escobedo, Elizabeth R. From Coveralls to Zoot Suits:  The Lives Of Mexican American Women on the World War II Homefront. Chapel Hill:  University of California Press, 2013.

Gerhard, Jane. Desiring Revolution: Second-Wave Feminism and the Rewriting of American Sexual Thought 1920 to 1982.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 2001.

Way, Niobe.  Deep Secrets: Boys' Friendships and the Crisis of Connection.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 2013.

Johnson, Colin R.  Just Queer Folks: Gender and Sexuality in Rural America.  Philadelphia, PA: Temple Univ Press, 2013.   


II. Race and Ethnicity

Breen, T.H. “Myne Owne Ground”: Race and Freedom on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, 1640-1676 . New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Piker, Joshua. The Four Deaths of Acorn Whistler: Telling Stories in Colonial America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013.

Newall, Margaret. Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2015.

Camp, Stephanie. Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Thompson, Katrina Dyonne. Ring Shout, Wheel About: The Racial Politics of Music and Dance in North American Slavery. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

Stauffer, John. The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Blight, David.  Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.  Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2002.

Tompkins, Kyla Wazana. Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century. New York: New York University Press, 2012.

Hager, Christopher. Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013.

Bernstein, Robin. Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

Muhammad, Khalil Gibran. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2011.

Jacobson, Matthew Frye.  Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 1999.

Roediger, David. Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. London, New York: Verso, 2007

Pitti, Steven J. The Devil in Silicon Valley:  Northern California, Race, and Mexican Americans.  Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2003.

Ngai, Mai. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America.  Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2005.

Lui, Mary. Chinatown Trunk Mysteries: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Pascoe, Peggy. What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Gordon, Linda. The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Raiford, Leigh. Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

Leong, Karen.  The China Mystique:  Pearl S. Buck, Anna Mae Wong, Mayling Soong, and the Transformation of American Orientalism.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 2005.

Peiss, Kathy. Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

Kurashige, Scott. The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Martinez, Danny HoSang. Racial Propositions: Ballot Initiatives and the Making of Postwar California. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

Avila, Eric. Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

McGuire, Danielle L. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.

Joseph, Peniel. Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama. New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2010.

[ top]

III. Work and Class

Dayton, Cornelia Hughes and Sharon V. Salinger. Robert Love's Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

Rediker, Marcus and Peter Linebaugh. The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.

Boydston, Jeanne. Home & Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Rice, Stephen P. Minding the Machine: Languages of Class in Early Industrial America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

Nelson, Scott Reynolds. Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Salvatore, Nick. Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1982.

Hunter, Tera. To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Denning, Michael. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the 20th Century. New York: Verso, 1998.

Foley, Neil. The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Hosmer, Brian. American Indians in the Marketplace: Persistence and Innovation among the Menominees and Metlakatlans, 1870-1920. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999.

Davis, Clark. Company Men: White-Collar Life and Corporate Cultures in Los Angeles, 1892-1941. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Wolcott, Victoria W.  Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Cowie, Jefferson. Stayin Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class. New York: New Press, 2010.

Dudley, Kathryn. The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1994.

Fink, Leon. The Maya of Morganton: Work and Community in the Nuevo South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Moreton, Bethany. To Serve God and Walmart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Kang, Miliann. The Managed Hand: Race, Gender, and the Body in Beauty Service Work. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010. 



IV. Institutions and Ideals

Hall, David. A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England. New York: Knopf, 2011.

Lepore, Jill. The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity. New York: Knopf, 1998.

Cott, Nancy. Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Raboteau, Albert. Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul: Life inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Young, Alfred. The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999.

Faust, Drew. This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.

Henkin, David. The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth Century America. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006.

Adams, David. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1995.

Miller, Neil. Banned in Boston: The Watch and Ward Society’s Crusade Against Books, Burlesque, and the Social Evil. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011.

Brumberg, Joan Jacobs. Kansas Charley: The Boy Murderer. New York: Viking, 2003.

Welke, Barbara. Recasting American Liberty: Gender, Race, Law, and the Railroad Revolution, 1895-1920. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Herman, Ellen. Kinship by Design: A History of Adoption in the Modern United States. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2008.

Igo, Sarah. The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Katznelson, Ira. Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time. New York: Norton, 2014.

Graebner, William. Coming of Age in Buffalo: Youth and Authority in the Postwar Era. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.

McGirr, Lisa. Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Edwards, Paul N. The Closed World: Computers and Political Discourse in Cold War America. Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press, 1997.

Bailey, Beth. America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Dudley, Kathryn. Debt and Dispossession: Farm Loss in America’s Heartland. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Fadiman, Anna. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997.

Ferguson, Anne Arnett. Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

Turner, Fred. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Ralph, Laurence. Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

[ top]

V.  The National and the Global

Kolodny, Annette. In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.

Richter, Daniel K.  Facing East From Indian Country: A Native History of Early America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Rediker, Markus. The Slave Ship: A Human History.  New York: Penguin, 2008.

Armitage, David. The Declaration of Independence: A Global History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Yokota, Kariann Akemi. Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Tchen, John Kuo Wei. New York Before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of  American Culture, 1776-1882.  Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Beckert, Sven. Empire of Cotton: A Global History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

Rydell, Robert W. and Rob Kroes. Buffalo Bill in Bologna: The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Jacobson, Matthew Frye. Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and  Jewish Immigrants in the United States.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Kaplan, Amy. The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Tyrrell, Ian. Reforming the World: The Creation of America’s Moral Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Imada, Adria. Aloha America: Hula Circuits through U.S. Empire. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.

Sanchez, George.  Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Azuma, Eiichiro. Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese  America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Yung, Judy.  Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Seigel, Micol.  Uneven Encounters: Making Race and Nation in Brazil and the United States. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.

Camacho, Alicia Schmidt. Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

Wagnleitner, Reinhold.  Coca-Colonization and the Cold War: The Cultural Mission of the  United States in Austria after the Second World War.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Dudziak, Mary. Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Von Eschen, Peggy. Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Fieldston, Sara. Raising the World: Child Welfare in the American Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015.

Lieu, Nhi T. The American Dream in Vietnamese. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

McAlister, Melani.  Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, & U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945, Updated Edition, With a Post-9/11 Chapter. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

[top ]

VI. Culture and Environment

Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983; reprint 2003.

Johnson, Walter. River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom. New York: Belknap Press, 2013.

Limerick, Patricia Nelson. The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. New York: W. W. Norton, 1987; reprint 2006.

Knobloch, Frieda. The Culture of Wilderness: Agriculture as Colonization in the American West. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Culver, Lawrence. The Frontier of Leisure: Southern California and the Shaping of Modern America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Sears, John F. Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Foote, Kenneth E. Shadowed Ground: America’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.

Kropp, Phoebe. California Vieja: Culture and Memory in a Modern American Place. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2008.

Mitchell, Don. The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

Fisher, Colin. Urban Green: Nature, Recreation, and the Working Class in Industrial Chicago. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Worster, Donald. Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Jackson, Kenneth. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Needham, Andrew. Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

Sugrue, Thomas. The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996; reprint 2014.

Harris, Dianne. Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

Connolly, N.D.B.  A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida.  Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2014.

Avila, Eric. The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Wells, Christopher W. Car Country: An Environmental History. Seattle: University of Washington, 2012.

Price, Jennifer. Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Cheng, Wendy. The Changs Next Door to the Diazes: Remapping Race in Suburban California. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

[ top]

VII. Consumption and Leisure

Daniels, Bruce C. Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 1996.

Baptist, Edward. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic Books, 2014.

Zakim, Michael. Ready-Made Democracy: A History of Men's Dress in the American Republic, 1760-1860. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. 

White, Shane. Stories of Freedom in Black New York. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Nissenbaum, Stephen. The Battle for Christmas. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.

Cavicchi, Daniel. Listening and Longing: Music Lovers in the Age of Barnum. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011.

Davis, Janet. The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Halttunen, Karen. Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Rosenzweig, Roy. Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985.

Oriard, Michael. Reading Football: How the Popular Press Created an American Spectacle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Peiss, Kathy. Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.

Alamillo, Jose. Making Lemonade out of Lemons: Mexican American Labor and Leisure in a California Town 1880-1960. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2006. 

May, Lary. Screening out the Past: The Birth of Mass Culture and the Motion Picture Industry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Cook, Daniel Thomas. The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Leach, William. Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. 

Douglas, Susan. Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination. New York: Time Books, 1999. 

Wald, Elijah. Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. New York: Amistad, 2004.

Cohen, Lizabeth. A Consumer’s Republic: The Politics of Mass Culture in Postwar America.  New York: Vintage, 2003.

Spigel, Lynn. Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Cadava, Geraldo L. Standing on Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013.

Echols, Alice. Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. 

Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992, 2012. 

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2012)


VIII. Alternative Field of Study

This category allows students to design an MA Exam list around a field of study not already represented among the other seven MA Exam lists. This field cannot fit within or overlap significantly with any existing field; the reading list for any alternative field must have an historical dimension covering several centuries. A student may only do ONE alternative field of study; their two other fields must be selected from the seven existing options. Alternative fields and the reading lists assembled for them must be approved by the faculty member advising that field. Students will also be expected to justify their decision to create an alternative field (e.g., to explain why the existing lists cannot accommodate their area of interest). Students may propose alternative fields on any topic but possible subjects include: Technology, Visual and Material Culture, Childhood and Education, Memory, or Performance.

[ top]