AP Lit-Citing Citing Outside the Canon

Literature is a form of communication and a tool for sharing knowledge. At its best, literature leaves its mark on us as readers; we get swept up in the beauty of an author’s words or we find ourselves struggling with the pain a character feels.  We see ourselves in texts, and we see new worlds in the stories we read. Culture and context, language and experience are deeply embedded in the literature that we read and teach in schools. These texts communicate much about what is important and valued in our contemporary society.

An absence of diverse literature and diverse authors sends a powerful message to readers about what and who is important. Because our society is diverse so, too, should be the literature that we read. The richness of the stories and poems by the authors on this list highlight the contributions that diverse authors have made to literature, providing insights into language, culture, and experiences that may be different from what we usually read in schools.  The lushness of the language in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God pulls the reader into Janie’s compelling story of finding who she is. The stark reality of Paul Dunbar’s We Wear the Mask holds a mirror up to society. The works on this list are engaging and powerful and provide readers with windows into other worlds.

We encourage students preparing to describe works of literary merit to consider the texts listed here, and we encourage readers of all kinds- teachers, students and others- to help contribute to it by emailing your suggestions to e.pendergrass@vanderbilt.edu.


Angela Davis’s “Women, Race, and Class”

Alice Walker’s essays, “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston” or “I Love Myself When I am Laughing and Then Again When I am Looking Mean and Impressive.”


Chinua Achebe [e.g.,Things Fall Apart]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [e.g., Half of a Yellow Sun]

Aravind Adiga

Isabel Allende

Maya Angelou [e.g., I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings]

James Baldwin [e.g., Go Tell it on the Mountain]


Octavia Butler

Zitkala-Sa Ceremony

Sandra Cisneros [e.g., House on Mango Street]

Michelle de Kretser

Junot Diaz

Ralph Ellison [e.g., Invisible Man]

Bi Feiyu

Gish Jen

Reyna Grande [e.g., The Distance Between Us]

Lorraine Hansberry

Khaled Housseini

Zora Neale Hurston [e.g.Their Eyes Were Watching God]

Hanna Jansen [e.g., Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You]

Jamaica Kincaid

Maxine Hong Kingston {e.g., Woman Warrior]

Jhumpa Lahiri

Carmen Maria Machado [e.g., Her Body and Other Parties]

Gabriel Garcia Marquez [e.g., One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera]

Toni Morrison [e.g.,Beloved ]

Neel Mukherjee

Haruki Murakami

Celeste Ng

Viet Tahn Nyuyen

John Okada

Michael Ondaatje

Chang Re

Jiang Rong

Michelle Syjuco

Amy Tan

Richard Wright [e.g., Native Son]

Poets & Poetry Editors:

Kwame Alexander “Out of Wonder”

Amiri Baraka “Also Drama, and More”

Gwendolyn Brooks

Lucille Clifton “Hips”

Countee Cullen

Edwidge Danticat “This Side of the Water”

Rita Dove

Paul Dunbar “We Wear the Mask”

Nikky Finney “Head Off & Split”

Nikki Giovanni

Ada Limon

Audre Lorde

Julian Randall

Jason Reynolds

Jimmy Santiago-Bacca

Kettly Mars “Saisons Sauvages”


Lorainne Hansberry A Raisin in the Sun

August Wilson Fences