This is not the ‘official’ second version of my qualifying reading list, but I think it’s important for me to track the significant immediate changes in the list after the initial comments from my committee. Most significantly, I have eliminated the sub categories of Victorian novels found in version 1. To this end, the only category that remains is the Victorian Novel. This comes after the succinct advice that the reading list is meant to be representative of the period and somewhat comprehensive. What this means in reality, then, is that focusing on minutiae such as sub categories of the Victorian novel takes something from the generality or overallness of the list. This does not mean that there are not examples of Gothic, industrial, Bildungsroman, or any other category, just that the naming and subsequent narrowing of those categories is not helpful.
I have also added to the poetry, non-fiction, and criticism sections. Since poetry is not my strong suit or manifest area of interest, this is a difficult section for me to add to with any kind of authority. I have taken what has been suggested to me by supervisors and others who know my work and grown it from there. As for the non-fiction section, I think it is difficult for me to work in anything other than very narrowly defined lists. However, like the novels list, the non-fiction needs to be representative of the period rather than broken down into sub sections. My newest attempt seeks to remedy this. I have taken a few titles from the criticism section which will show up in future reading lists (Eve Sedgwick and Stephen Marcus are the two most notable excisions). Stay tuned, however, since after I complete this list I will begin work immediately on the more specific lists.
The other thing I have done with this list is taken away the rationale because it needs work. Suffice it to say that the rationale, in a nutshell, is that I am trying to give a broad yet comprehensive picture of the Victorian era in literature. It gets more specific than that, but I am having trouble articulating exactly what it is I want to say. Since this is supposed to be a general period reading list it really is difficult for me to turn off that little specialist in my head who wants to break down and analyze every text into its own category of minutiae. This should be an especially worthy exercise when it comes to teaching, I think.
I share this list as a means of continuing to make my process an open one and to see what others out there think. You can leave a comment or make a suggestion if you think I’ve missed something, or a lot of things, keeping in mind that these drafts seem to be getting rougher and rougher as I go. I expect that the next draft of this list I share will be the draft that I send to my committee. Wish me luck.