The MA Qualifying Exam Reading List was recently given to me so I might prepare for the next few years of study leading up to my MA exam and thesis in comparative literature. I am told that the list is only a part of the fundamentals I should be reading, especially since everyone has a different area of emphasis (mine is early American Literature, but I have also been deeply drawn to the modern period). I thought I might make a quick comparison of the MA Reading List to that given by Sass in his book, Essays in Satanism. There is yet more valuable information in that chapter, and it certainly exemplifies the type of extensive study I admire of Satanists.
Sass is much broader in his demands for ancient cultures. English degrees tend to shy away from translated works in favor of close reading at the word and punctuation level. Language demands on students are becoming increasingly tenuous as more of them choose to ignore the intellectual rigor of Latin and Greek. (Unlike some, I don't demand a regular return, but some pressure to understand a little for anyone studying the classics is essential to keep good scholarship alive).
The MA list demands works that directly address the question of how to read literature. No surprise there since authors can be a bit masturbatory without uncovering any truth behind creativity, which is largely subjective.
Sass is light on Anglophone writers (not from Britain or America) though I wouldn't call this a flaw per se. It is more like a less imperialist conscious view of the English cannon. Its inclusion on the MA list reflects the general emphasis on "diversity of literature." Though I dislike the reason there is an anglophone section, I would not object to reading any of the books listed.
Sass pounds government and historically relevant documents into the ground. I applaud it. Since the rise of the "new historical reading" in literature, history has taken a back seat to old theories such as Marxism or Freud, who are not unworthy of study by any means, but do not replace a sense of time, political and socio-economic historical fact that influences writing. In part it is the influence of New Criticism (Formalism) that has short-sightedly insisted that the great works stand alone.
The biggest common denominator is that they both appreciate the logical grouping of great works and don't shy away from the classics.