Ap english Language and Composition Cathedral High School 2010-2011 Contact Information Instructor

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AP English Language and Composition

Cathedral High School

Contact Information

Instructor: Mr. Catlin, Room 502

Email: tcatlin@cathedralhighschool.org

Phone: 323-441-3121

Office Hours: Break, lunch and after school

Tuesday and Thursdays are department meeting days. Availability may change.


An AP English Language and Composition course engages students in becoming skilled readers of prose written in a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts, and in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their writing and their reading should make students aware of the interactions among a writer’s purposes, audience expectations, and subjects as well as the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing.

Course Goals:

Upon completing the AP English Language and Composition course, students should be able to:

• analyze and interpret samples of good writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques;

• apply effective strategies and techniques in their own writing;

• create and sustain arguments based on readings, research, and/or personal experience;

• write for a variety of purposes;

• produce expository, analytical, and argumentative compositions that introduce a complex central idea and develop it with appropriate evidence drawn from primary and/or secondary sources, cogent explanations, and clear transitions;

• demonstrate understanding and mastery of standard written English as well as stylistic maturity in their own writings;

• demonstrate understanding of the conventions of citing primary and secondary sources;

• move effectively through the stages of the writing process, with careful attention to inquiry and research, drafting, revising, editing, and review;

• write thoughtfully about their own process of composition;

• revise a work to make it suitable for a different audience;

• analyze image as text; and

• evaluate and incorporate reference documents into researched papers.

Course Content

Another major focus of this course is rhetoric and composition. Rhetoric, broadly defined, is “a dynamic process in which a person chooses and uses language to achieve a determined purpose.”  In this class, we will examine texts rhetorically—that is, we will look at what the writer is trying to achieve and analyze the methods the writer uses to accomplish that goal.

Writing in this Course

All writing in this course will require students to work through their own individual writing process. Prewriting and brainstorming will be required, and in this initial stage of the writing process, students will often work with the instructor and peers to develop your ideas. Additionally, multiple drafts will be required for each writing assignment. Constant reflection on your writing will help students both find their voices and develop their personal style.

Through feedback from the teacher and from peers, students will be expected to analyze author’s styles and methods and develop their own unique voice using the following elements:

  • A wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively

  • rhetorical terms

  • vocabulary from readings

  • tone vocabulary

  • A variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination

  • Logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis

  • A balance of generalization and specific, illustrative detail

  • An effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure

In addition, the course teaches and requires students to write in several forms (e.g., narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative essays) about a variety of subjects (e.g., public policies, popular culture, personal experiences). See individual units for writing assignments. In addition to these formal writing experiences, students will write informally throughout the year in the form of a "reading log." Teacher feedback will be an important part of these logs, though not on grammatical elements, but on the formulation of ideas.

Reading Logs

Students will be required to keep “reading logs” as part of this course. Students will complete and keep them in their binders throughout the semester. In these logs, students will summarize works; describe characters; and identify themes, symbols, figurative language, and rhetoric by picking out passages or issues that draw their attention. Then, take those passages and react, evaluate, analyze, criticize, and make comments about what was read. Reading logs should be a personal record of the selections. Students are encouraged to ask questions, express curiosity, and even critique the pieces read.

Reading logs will serve as a basis for class discussions; students should bring them to class every day. Reading logs are to be on every desk during class discussions. Reading logs should serve as a conversation starter for class. If something was troubling, angering or puzzling, students should write about it on their reading log—then bring it to the class discussion.
I will check reading logs at the end of each unit. Reading logs should always be kept up to date. Students are encouraged to take this assignment seriously, and consider what we read in class. This will help students grow as readers and writers as they develop skills in rhetorical analysis and interpretation.
The Research Paper
In each unit, students will engage in research to expand their understanding of both literary movements and current events. Literary movements never occur in isolation, but are directly influenced by the social and political forces. Having a broad knowledge of larger cultural events is important to understanding the works we study.
Individual research throughout the year will culminate in the spring with the junior research paper, where students will research a selected American author in terms of works, criticism and personal interpretation by utilizing appropriate research methods and materials. Students will use appropriate conventions for documentation in the text, notes, and bibliographies by adhering to those in style manuals (e.g., Modern Language Association Handbook, The Chicago Manual of Style).  We will discuss and cover several types of research formats, all papers in this course must adhere to MLA format.

Viewing in this Course

Visual literacy is an important component of this course and life in general as a consumer. We will examine art and other visual elements in many contexts during this course. As you analyze art and other visual media, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Subject and Symbols

  • The Arts in Historical Context

  • Political and Historical Context

  • Religious and Philosophical Context

  • The Artist

  • Artist’s Reputation and Place in Art History


Prentice Hall Literature, Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: The American Experience. Ed. Kate Kinsella.

Everyday Use: Rhetoric at Work in Reading and Writing, AP Edition. Hephzibah Roskelly, David Jolliffe

Orwell, George. Animal Farm.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter

Twain, Mark Huckleberry Finn

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Other supplementary essays, articles and media

Materials Needed

2 inch binder for English only

Flash drive

E-mail account


Please note:

Students who begin this course are expected to finish the year in this course. Students can take the AP exam in May 2010. The completion of this course or resulting score from this course does not guarantee college placement or credit. Rather, students are responsible for checking with their respective universities to see if they offer credit or placement for a passing score on the AP exam.


Grading Policy and Scale

Final grades will be based on a point system with the following approximate values:

Assignment Description

Approximate Point Value


In order to prepare you for the AP exam, the majority of essays in this course begin as in-class essays. For many of these assignments, the in-class essay will be a rough draft that you will then edit and revise extensively. The revised essays will often be scored again. Out-of-class essays will always include a rough draft, peer editing, and a final draft. Revision is an important component in improving your writing.


AP Multiple Choice, Class work, Projects


Unit Portfolios (Reading Logs ,Journals, Editorial responses)




Semester Exam






Grading Policy

90-100 % A

80-89% B

70-79 % C

60 -69% D

Make-up Policy:

I will not ask you for your make-up work. It is YOUR responsibility to remember to ask for make-up work or turn in missing assignments.

  • NO LATE HOMEWORK is accepted for a grade.

  • If you miss a major test or other assessment, you have ONE WEEK from the day you return to school to make up for that assessment. It is your responsibility to schedule the make up. If you do not make it up, you will earn a zero for that test.

  • For each day absent from school, you will receive 48 hours to make up any missed work.

  • Major papers/assignments will not be accepted late. This includes out of class papers, the research paper, and unit portfolios. This policy will be discussed more completely in class.


Students are expected to be in class on time, to bring materials needed for class, and to show respect for themselves and others. No food or drinks (except water) will be allowed in the classroom. I expect students to turn in their assignments at the beginning of class in the designated location. Students should have their materials on their desks and be ready to start working when the bell rings. Any violation of class rules (including tardiness) will result in disciplinary action.

Units of Study
**Please note that the syllabus may be amended and altered, as time class needs demands.

Changes will be made at the discretion of the instructors.
Course Theme: America Against Itself – A Study of Conflict in American Society
This year, we will frame our study of American literature around the idea of America against itself. Thus, when we read texts, we will examine them through this lens, asking, what conflict emerges in this text? What is happening in American society at this time that reveals a cultural conflict? In each unit students will relate a literary work to primary source documents of its literary period or historical setting. This year, we will explore the following time periods/ literary movements in American Literature.

i. Native American literature

ii. Colonial/Revolutionary/National literature

iii. Romanticism/Transcendentalism

iv. Realism

v. Naturalism

vi. Modernism (including Harlem Renaissance)

vii. Postmodernism

In each unit, we will also have a rhetorical focus where we will bring in supplementary nonfiction pieces that are not part of American Literature.

Unit One: Expectations vs. Reality - Conflicting Narratives
Questions to consider:

Are Native Americans treated fairly in the United States?

How did the expectations of the “New World” conflict with reality?

What does the narrative reveal about the perspective of the author?

Rhetorical Focus

Students will study modes of discourse, focusing on the purpose of description and narration. Various rhetorical strategies will be introduced as well as the concept of purpose, audience, and strategy, and the rhetorical triangle.

Literary Focus

Students will analyze the oral tradition of the Native Americans as well as the first encounters of settlers to America. The issue of the “new world” and colonialism will be discussed.



  • Various creation myths and stories from the Native American tradition

  • various poetry from Anne Bradstreet

  • Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter ( summer reading)

  • They Say, I Say (summer reading)


  • excerpts from Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

  • excerpts from William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation”

  • excerpts from John Smith’s General History of Virginia

  • Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”

  • Sedaris’s” Me Talk Pretty One Day”

  • White’s “Once More to the Lake”


  • Various art by Thomas Smith

  • Various art by Edward Savage


  • Reading quizzes - Students may have quizzes over required readings.

  • Reading Logs/Portfolio Check - Students will turn in a portfolio of journal responses and a reflection at the end of the unit.

  • Timed writings - Every other week, students will write in response to a prompt that connects to our study in this unit.

  • Class work/homework checks

  • Composition –Students will write a narrative or descriptive essay.

Unit Two: Writing a Revolution
Questions to consider:

  • How does persuasive discourse affect society? How can rhetoric change people’s views?

  • What is freedom? How did Americans use language to communicate their ideas about freedom?

Rhetorical Focus

Continuing our focus on the modes of discourse, the students will analyze the use of argumentation/persuasion and apply to their own writing. Study will also include the five canons of rhetoric and the rhetorical process in writing.

Literary Focus

Students will analyze how the Puritan style serves the Puritan culture and detect loaded language. Students will also define the cultural principles that led to the Revolution, including the philosophies of Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes, and discover how writing affected the Revolution.



  • Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

  • Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis, No. 1”
    Patrick Henry’s “Speech in the Virginia Convention”

  • The Declaration of Independence

  • excerpts from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac and Autobiography

  • Creveceour’s “Letters from an American Farmer”

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

  • Singer’s “The Singer Solution to World Poverty”


  • Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses (painting), Peter Frederick Rothermel (http://www.redhill.org/images/burgess.jpg)

  • I Have a Dream (video clip), AmericanRhetoric.com

  • Despotism vs. Liberty (political cartoon), 1776 (http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/history/core/pics/0253/img0031.jpg)


  • Reading quizzes - Students may have quizzes over required readings.

  • Reading Logs/Portfolio Check - Students will turn in a portfolio of journal responses and a reflection at the end of the unit.

  • Timed writings - Every other week, students will write in response to a prompt that connects to our study in this unit.

  • Class work/homework checks

  • Composition - Students will write a persuasive essay.


Unit Three: The Individual vs. Society
Questions to consider:

  • How does the individual maintain a sense of self and still be a part of society?

  • How do Romantic writers use language to communicate their sense of self?

Rhetorical Focus

Style analysis will be heavily emphasized in this unit as students will look at how description contributes to mood and setting. Our study of author’s purpose will continue as well. Our study of Poe will investigate his unusual uses of syntax and diction.

Literature Focus

Students will define the elements that make up Romanticism, Transcendentalism and American Gothic literature and contrast to earlier periods of literature.


  • Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”

  • Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter”

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil”

  • William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”


  • Poe’s “The Philosophy of Composition”

  • Excerpts from writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau

  • Students will examine the works of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and their influences on American poetry.



  • Untitled (painting), Emanuele Leutze (depiction of westward expansion)

  • The Passage of the St. Gothard (painting), J. M. W. Turner


  • Reading quizzes - Students may have quizzes over required readings.

  • Reader's Journal/Portfolio Check - Students will turn in a portfolio of journal responses and a reflection at the end of the unit.

  • Timed writings - Every other week, students will write in response to a prompt that connects to our study in this unit.

  • Classwork/homework checks

  • Composition - Write an essay that follows Poe's philosophy of the "unity of effect." In your essay, choose an abstract concept or feeling that you will focus on. Then, all of your syntax and diction choices should contribute to that particular effect.

Unit Four: The Reality of Life – War and Loss of Faith
Questions to consider:

  • How does the struggle for equality manifest itself in the literature? How does the rhetoric of wartimes show a sense of isolation?

  • How does humanity react to the loss of faith caused by war?

Rhetorical Focus

    Students will continue to look at the persuasive mode of discourse in the context of the Civil War. Students will also analyze the use of detail in creating realistic fiction.

Literary Focus: Students will learn how fiction allowed for vicarious experience of life and how the war experience influenced American literature. Students will examine both biographical and fictional war narratives and other examples of Realism. Students will also discuss and examine satire in society.


  • Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  • Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour”

  • Edith Wharton’s “Roman Fever”

  • Stephen Crane’s and Open Boat

  • Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener

  • Jack London’s To Build a Fire


  • Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address

  • various personal Civil War accounts, slave narratives

  • Grace King’s “The Little Convent Girl”

  • Ambrose Bierce’s “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”


For these pieces, students will consider what viewpoint the artist promotes.


  • Reading quizzes - Students may have quizzes over required readings.

  • Reading Log/Portfolio Check - Students will turn in a portfolio of journal responses and a reflection at the end of the unit.

  • Timed writings - Every other week, students will write in response to a prompt that connects to our study in this unit.

  • Class work/homework checks

  • Composition - Style analysis of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

  • Composition - Choose one significant event from the Civil War and write an expository essay describing the event and how it impacted the outcome of the war.

Unit Five: Isolation and Alienation
Questions to consider:

How does the struggle for equality manifest itself in the literature?

How did WWI affect American literature?
Rhetorical Focus

Students will look at the development of authors’ styles including the analysis of figurative language and detail. Students will also synthesize their knowledge of rhetorical modes and look at how authors blend the modes for specific purpose.

Literary Focus

Students will study the Harlem Renaissance and the cultural milieu that surround this American literary movement. The major themes in our study of Modernism will center on isolation and alienation. Students will also learn about stream of consciousness and how this literary style communicates the struggle of authors in this time. 



  • Porter’s “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”



  • “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”

  • “The Tropics in New York”

  • “Storm Ending”

  • “The Weary Blues”

  • “A Black Man Talks of Reaping”

  • “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” 

  • “The Red Wheelbarrow”

  • “Mending Wall”

  • “Chicago”

  • “anyone lived in a pretty how town” 


  • from Hurston’s “Dust Tracks on a Road”

  • from Hurston’s “How it Feels to be Colored Me”

  • Angelou, Maya I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


  • The Wedding (painting), Jacob Lawrence 

  • Aspiration (painting), Aaron Douglas 

  • Various Harlem Renaissance art: http://www.fatherryan.org/harlemrenaissance/ - Analyze the art that emerges in the Harlem Renaissance. What images are prominent?

  • Various Modernist paintings (classroom resources)


    • Reading quizzes - Students may have quizzes over required readings.

    • Reading Logs/Portfolio Check - Students will turn in a portfolio of journal responses and a reflection at the end of the unit.

    • Timed writings - Every other week, students will write in response to a prompt that connects to our study in this unit.

    • Class work/homework checks

    • Composition - Students will write an argumentative research paper.

AP Lang & Comp

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