Ap english Literature and Composition

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AP English Literature and Composition


Course Description and Overview
The Advanced Placement Literature and Writing course is designed to be a college/university level course, and therefore will provide you with the workload consistent with a typical undergraduate English Composition course. Being an intellectually challenging course, you will learn daily about some aspect of writing, including utilizing a wide ranging vocabulary, sentence structures, organization, illustrative detail, and effective use of voice. [C12] Your previous English classes can be considered the appetizers and now you have finally made it to the main course. You are expected to digest the material in a critical manner taking time to understand, analyze, reflect, and interpret in order to gain the full meaning. You will actively participate in class discussion, write 2-3 papers (3-6 pages each) outside of class, 2-3 in class essays (literary analysis) and complete a variety of quiz/short test assignments per unit. This course is designed to comply with the curricular requirements described in the AP English Literature and Composition Course Description.
Focus and Understandings Essential Questions

  • Interactions among ideas or characters in the text are subtle, involved, or deeply imbedded.

  • The text possesses a sizable amount of highly sophisticated information conveyed through data or literary requirements.

  • The text is organized in ways that are elaborate and sometimes unconventional.

  • The author’s tone and use of language are often intricate.

  • The author’s intent in writing the text is implicit and sometimes ambiguous.

  • Literature reflects its social, cultural, and historical values.

  • Literature reflects the human condition.

  • Literature provides a mirror to help us understand ourselves and others.

  • What qualities define a good world citizen?

  • I can I effectively articulate my opinions and perspectives?

  • What responsibility do I have to society?

  • How has writing become a communication tool across the ages?

  • How does literature reflect the human condition?

  • How does literature help us understand ourselves and others?

  • How do I write well-constructed responses in clear, coherent, and persuasive language?

Required Texts and Materials
Text: Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005.
Preliminary List of novels, drama, and anthologized material: [C1]

Novels: Dostoevski, Feodor. Crime and Punishment

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter

Three independent novels from an approved list will also be required.

Drama: Sophocles. Antigone

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Or Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet or MacBeth

Glaspell, Susan. Trifles

Poetry: To be taken from The Bedford Introduction to Literature
Non-Fiction: Literary Criticism: “On Tragedy” from Aristotle’s Poetics

“Tragedy and the Common Man” by Arthur Miller

International Human Rights Document

Current Essays and relevant articles selected by the teacher.

Videos: Hamlet directed by Kenneth Branaugh

Death of a Salesman directed by Volker Schlondorff

Frankenstein (various film interpretations)

The Scarlet Letter (clips)
Performance Tasks

  • Timed essays based on past AP prompts

  • Essay questions as required of college-level writers

  • Reading/responding to/analyzing novels, drama, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry

  • Literary analysis papers – expository and persuasive

  • Personal essay

  • College Scholarship and Entry essays

  • Creative Writing Assignments

  • Graphic organizers, journals, paragraph responses

  • Speeches/Debates

Reading and Writing Assignments
Reading Assignments:

It is extremely important that you, the student, read every single assignment on time and with diligence. Make sure that you plan time into your schedules to do the reading, since this class requires more reading than you are used to from your other English classes. Poetry does not take long to read, however, remember they usually take two to three readings and can be complicated to understand. Novels require planning on your part, so make effective use of your time.

Writing Assignments:

Students will write several short critical papers, analyzing poetry and drama, and performing a close reading of novels. Students will also write a ten page research paper. I will be more descriptive on what is expected of these closer to the time each are due, however, you must use specific evidence to prove your argument about poems, drama, and fiction. These essays are based on close textual reading and analysis of structure, style, and social/historical values.

Compositions will include statements, paragraphs, timed writings, and formal essays (personal, expository, and argumentative). [C6, C7] Your best writing skills should always be practiced regardless of the assignment. Grammar usage and composition skills will be honed to improve what you already know (for example, sentence variety, word choice, revision). [C8, C9] There will be mini grammar lessons dealing with usage issues, sentence constructions, and diction to help you along the way. [C8, C9, C12]
Although the focus of the class is on critical and formal writings, creative writings will parallel these. Poetry writing, creative journal writing, short stories, and drama writings will take on the rhetorical forms and styles of the literature we are studying. I am not grading these assignments based on creativity; I will be looking for your knowledge and applications of certain structures and styles. I will be looking for your capacity to understand and apply the techniques of art (structure, theme, and style – diction, syntax, figurative language, symbolism, and tone) used in the literature we are studying. [C2]
Paper Requirements:

All papers must be typed, double spaced, one inch margins, Times New Roman, and 12 point font. They must be proofread and spell-checked and will be approximately two to three pages, with the research paper being ten pages. A rough draft will usually be required. Writing workshops will take place during class, with peer editing and teacher conferences. Through the teacher conferences we will discuss your word choices through diction and the appropriate use of words, [C8] your ability to create varied and effective syntactic structures, [C9] your capacity for coherence and logical organization, [C10] your ability to balance generalizations with specific and illustrative details, [C11] and your ability to combine rhetorical processes into an effective whole. [C12]

Drafts of the papers are due at the beginning of class; with the final copies due by 2:50 p.m. ABSOLUTELY NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED.
In Class Writing, Quizzes, and Exams

You will be asked frequently to synthesize your understanding of the material through exams which will help you to respond to literary questions. You must have a notebook for this class which will be for free-writing on a daily basis. You will be asked to explore what you read. [C5] This will prepare you for the AP Exam and college classes. In class writings with be based on the AP Examination, however, there will be in class writings and quick writes to facilitate discussion.

Reading and Writing Schedule
Pre-Course Assignments

  • Actively read Crime and Punishment.

  • Keep a reading journal following “Reading and Responding in a Journal.”

  • Creative Writing about Rodya’s reaction to his mother’s letter from Crime and Punishment placed in current times.

  • Speculative writing regarding Crime and Punishment regarding the characters using textual support.

  • Writing a one page synopsis of what Rodya’s new life might be like from Crime and Punishment keeping consistent with the character and what is known about his life up to date.

    • Composition focus – clear, concise paragraphs with proper transitions, topic sentences, supporting sentences, and using textual support (lines/quotes from text). [C10, C11]

  • Actively read Annie Dillard’s essay, “Seeing,” from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

  • Write a one page journal entry drawing a conclusion about your observations.

Unit 1: The Extraordinary
Reading list:

  • Independent Reading from a selected reading list.

  • Dostoevski, Feodor. Crime and Punishment

  • Sophocles. Antigone pg. 1342; Support material on Greek drama and Sophocles will be included.

  • Aristotle, from Poetics, "On Tragic Character" pg. 1379

  • Three poems of John Donne: "Death, Be Not Proud," pg. 963; "The Flea" pg. 1200; and "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" pg. 832

  • Poem of T.S. Eliot. “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” pg. 1102

  • Isak Dinesen. "The Blue Jar”

  • Making connections--William Finnegan, "Defending the Unabomber"


  • Close reading of fiction, drama, poetry, and nonfiction

    • Literary terms and techniques

    • Elements of literature including novel, short story, and drama

  • Composition instruction

    • Students will take material from their journals dealing with the themes in Crime and Punishment and develop an interpretive essay based on a central theme from the novel. Students may select a theme of their own upon approval of the instructor, or they may select one of these two themes: guilt and innocence or atonement and forgiveness.

    • Literary criticism (Aristotle)

  • Determine relevance to contemporary society

  • On-demand writing-experience with timed writing

  • Evaluation of timed writing including teacher conferences [C13, 14, 15]

  • Paragraph writing, short answers, and graphic organizers

Unit 2: The Journey/What Does it Mean to be Human?
Reading list:
  • Independent reading from a selected reading list.

  • Hurston, Zora Neale. “Dust Tracks on a Road”

  • Miller, Arthur. The Death of a Salesman. pg. 1779

  • “Tragedy and the Common Man” pg. 1863

  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus.

  • Poetry of Milton “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”, pg. 1216; Coleridge “Kubla Khan…” pg. 1197and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”; and Wordsworth “The World Is Too Much With Us” pg. 917


  • Demonstrate an understanding of cultural themes raised by literary works

  • Compare and contrast characters to increase understanding.

    • Analytical paper regarding the tragic fate of the protagonists. It will be expository and analytical with an emphasis on imagery and dramatic irony. Quotes must be incorporated, as well as appropriate word choice, syntax, and understanding dialogue and details as support in writing. Students will write multiple drafts. [C6, 13, 14, 15]

  • Active reading/Cornell notes incorporated into understanding drama, dramatic irony, theater beginnings, the origin and function of the chorus, imagery of sight and blindness, myth.

  • Timed writings on tragedy.

  • Class discussion will be held daily on themes and character.

  • Identify the major elements of Romantic and Gothic literature.

  • Offer a close reading of Frankenstein and support all assertations and interpretations with direct evidence from the text, from authoritative critical knowledge of the genre, or from authoritative criticism of the novel.

  • Understand and work with personal writing – including, but not limited to anecdote, dialogue, details, language, syntax, and varied structures. [C8]

Unit 3: Exploration
Reading List:

  • Independent novel chosen from a selected reading list: Novel from the English Tradition before 1960

  • Introduction to the Research Paper

  • Sample research papers and analysis

  • MLA formatting, bibliography cards, note cards, and research

  • Poetry workshop: T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” and various other anthologized poetry


  • Critically interpret research related documents.

  • Oral Presentation of research.

  • Engage in self-assessment

  • Writer’s workshops and conferences with the teacher to revise and work on rhetoric, word choice, syntax, transitions, voice, etc.

  • Write a persuasive ten page research paper on a controversial subject using appropriate techniques, word choice, formatting, etc.

  • Utilize active reading into workshops with poetry into understanding simile, metaphor, personification, theme, sound devices, etc.

Unit 4: Fathers/Self-Knowledge
Reading List:

  • Participate as an active member of a reading group.

  • Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Pg. 1460

  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter

  • Otto, Whitney. “Tears like Diamond Stars.” How to Make an American Quilt.

  • “On Producing Hamlet” pg. 1563; “A Film Diary…” pg. 1564

  • Poetry: Transcendentalist, Anti-Transcendentalist, and Sonnets from Anthology (i.e. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Each and All.”


  • Explore theme in poetry, nonfiction, and drama

  • Study Shakespeare’s language, form, and function of tragedy

  • Literary Analysis Papers: One on Hamlet and one on The Scarlet Letter [C7}

    • Direct composition instruction: Format, clear thesis, incorporation of lines and quotes, pronoun usage, support paragraphs, introduction necessary for audience, thesis followed throughout, strong concluding paragraph [C10]

    • Formal analysis/literary paper comparing and contrasting the tragic fate of protagonists. Essay will be expository and analytical in nature. Students will write, edit, and rewrite. Paper will emphasize imagery and dramatic irony and will incorporate quotes, word choice, syntax, and understanding of the dialogue and details presented as support to writing. [C6, 13, 14, 15]

  • Apply different schools of literary criticism to expand understanding of texts

  • Examine characters and character relationships from a variety of literary positions

  • Analyze the importance of literary elements like dramatic irony and foreshadowing on the development of the plot

  • Consider multiple concepts of right and wrong and write a literary analysis paper

  • Timed writings

  • Discussion Circles. Debate.

Unit Five: Defining Moments
Reading List:

  • Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughter House Five.

  • O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. (Excerpts)

  • Sebald, W. G. On the Natural History of Destruction. (Passage)

  • Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. (Passage)

  • Chief Joseph. “I Will Fight No More Forever.”

  • Vonnegut, Kurt. “Harrison Bergeron: An extravagant satire by a hero of American Literature”

  • Selected poetry from anthology


  • Literary criticism using guided questions that address effects of social philosophic, and scientific issues in the 20th century, especially World War II and the Dresden Bombing, the Vietnam Conflict, the assassinations of Martin Luthur King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, Einstein’s theory of relativity, existentialism, postwar suburban living, Freud’s theory of Eros and Thanatos, etc. [C4]

  • Identify and explain voice in the novel

  • Identify and explain the use of black humor, satire, parody, dramatic irony, structural irony and verbal irony, anti-hero, ambiguity in theme, science fiction, episodic plot structure, flat and static characters. [C3]

  • Appreciating autobiographical fiction

  • Understanding/Analyzing Memoir

  • Make connections between Slaughterhouse-Five and the modernist and post-modernist movements, especially in terms of character development, plot structure, tone, and style. [C4]

  • Timed writings similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Exam.

  • Respond to multiple choice questions similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Exam.

Unit Six: Passages
Reading List:

  • Independent Reading: Novel from the American Tradition since 1960.

  • Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

  • Harlem Renaissance Poetry

  • Henley, William Ernest. Invictus

  • The Black National Anthem


  • Analyze characters and their situations to better understand the themes of the autobiography

  • Research the historical background behind Maya Angelou’s motivation for the autobiography

  • Compare and contrast the themes in the Harlem Renaissance Poetry to that of Angelou’s beliefs [C3]

  • Prepare for the AP Exam by taking practice multiple choice tests and timed writings.

  • Keep a reading journal

  • Reflective Piece: Memory CD


The College Board (2010). Examples of Syllabi 1, 2, 3, & 4. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from www.professionals.collegeboard.com

eNotes (2010). Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition Teaching Units. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from www.enotes.com

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