Please be aware that students will be held responsible for the assignments on the first day of the fall semester. If a student chooses to change the level of course or class over the summer

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AP Literature Course Intro & Summer Assignments – 2015-16

Please be aware that students will be held responsible for the assignments on the first day of the fall semester. If a student chooses to change the level of course or class over the summer, the student will be held responsible for the summer assignments for the courses reflected on the schedule for the first day of school.

If you have questions regarding which course your student is enrolled in for the fall, please contact your guidance counselor.

What this document contains:

  1. Welcome to the course

  2. Brief course goal/purpose

  3. Summer reading assignments

  4. Essay prompt

  5. Tutorial – How to annotate a passage

  6. Sample annotated passage

  7. Tutorial – How to TPCASTT a poem

  8. Sample poem analyzed using the TPCASTT method

  9. Ten poems to analyze using the TPCASTT method

Welcome to AP Literature! First, we are glad that you have chosen to take this college-level class. We’d like to tell you a bit about what to expect.

  1. This is a literature class, so you must be willing to read the assigned novels and plays. Reading just a part of the book or just reading study aids like Spark Notes will not prepare you for college and the AP test. If you don’t like to read, this probably isn’t the class for you.

  2. A major goal of this class is to prepare you for college. We will work on improving your writing skills, so by the end of the course, you will feel more comfortable about writing for your college classes.

  3. We will work on your critical thinking skills.

  4. There will be homework most nights.

  5. You will be well-prepared to get college credit by doing well on the AP Literature test next May.

What is AP Literature?

The guiding questions of this course are simple; they are “Why?” and “What is the author’s purpose?” We will read and discuss short and long pieces of literature and ask questions such as:

“Why does the character act that way?

“How does it affect the author’s purpose?”

“Why does the author use this particular image?”

“Why is this symbol used? How does it affect the meaning of the work as a whole?”

It is good to find examples of literary devices, tone, etc., but in this class we will discover how these examples affect the meaning of the work as a whole, and how they reveal the author’s purpose. This is literary analysis.
Summer Reading and Writing Assignments

  1. You are to read two novels of literary merit that you will analyze and write about. You must have your own personal copy of each novel, because you will be writing in the books and annotating selected passages in each. Library copies are not acceptable; eBooks (Kindle, Nook) are acceptable if you are able to highlight and annotate the eBook. There will be a test on each of the two books you read during the first week of school in August.

Novel choices:

Either The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, both by Khaled Hosseini


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

  1. For each book that you read, you will choose two significant passages to annotate. The first passage must come from the first half of the book; the second passage must come from the second half of the book. Annotate right in the book, using whatever method of annotating that you like. The goal is for you to make a thoughtful choices of passages that you think reveal something significant about the novel. This “something significant” could reveal characterization, theme, author’s style, use of language, or something else that you consider to be important.

Your annotating will be used in class discussions. Bring your books/eReader to class on the first day of school to show your annotated passages to your teacher. Not sure what annotating is? Then look at the explanation that follows the assignments.

  1. For The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, write an AP-style essay that answers the prompt below. The essay must be typed, double-spaced, in an 11 or 12 pt., readable font.

This essay is due on the first day of school; bring a hard copy of the essay to turn in to your teacher. During class on the first day of school, you will receive instructions on how to submit your essays to, which will verify that your essay is your original work. Do not plagiarize. Because you must submit the essay online, be sure that you save the file on your computer.

Essay prompt for The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns

In a novel by William Styron, a father tells his son that life “is a search for justice.”

Choose a character from The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns who responds in some significant way to justice or injustice. Then write a well-developed essay in which you analyze the character’s understanding of justice, the degree to which the character’s search for justice is successful, and the significance of this search for the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

  1. Poetry. A large part of the AP Literature test focuses on poetry, so it’s never too early to start reading and analyzing poems. Print the 10 poems that are on the following pages. You will analyze each poem according to the TPCASTT method. TPCASTT is explained on the page before the poems.

You must have the 10 printed and analyzed poems ready to turn in on the first day of school.

  1. Read a book for your own pleasure. It can be any book that you want to read, as long as you want to read it and will enjoy reading it. You will give a book talk about this book during the first week of school.

If you have any questions, please email Mrs. Cannaday at or Mr. Dahl at

How do I annotate a passage?
The following information is from Ms. Pollack. All the AP English teachers are on the same page about annotating – the process and the purpose. You have options: you may use highlighters and a pen/pencil to make margin notes, or you may use just a pen or pencil to make margin notes, add brackets/stars/question marks, etc., as needed.
Annotation: Best Practices

  • Pre read the text; develop an understanding of the text’s meaning.

  • At the end of each paragraph, briefly summarize in the margin.

  • Make a list of vocabulary words: author’s special jargon, new or unknown words, interesting words.

  • Look for patterns and repetitions: recurring elements within the text include images, phrases, and situations. Ask why the author may have used these repetitions.

  • Circle words the author uses for their connotative meanings

  • Circle words you need to define in the margin

  • Underline sentences that stand out, develop an argument, or make a point

  • Number related points

  • Make connections with other things you’ve read

  • Bracket important sections of text

  • Connect important ideas, words, phrases

In the margins:

  • Summarize and number each paragraph

  • Define the unfamiliar terms

  • Note any questions that come to mind

  • Note possible connotative meanings of circled words

  • Note any significant patterns

  • Identify any outstanding language usage or devices you discover

  • Identify points or arguments

On the following page, you will find an example of an annotated passage.

How to TPCASTT a poem
TPCASTT is a method of analyzing poetry that gives you a formula to work from when you’re trying to figure out what a poem means. It’s an excellent way to “cover the bases”, rather than just asking someone to tell what he/she thinks the poem might mean. Below is a description of what you should analyze in each step.
Directions for this packet: Analyze each of the poems in this packet using the TPCASTT method, step by step. You should do all the analysis on these handouts; you do not need to write on separate paper. Annotate as you analyze; write notes to yourself, underline/highlight key ideas, figures of speech, interesting diction, etc. There is an example for you to study before you start your own analysis.
Title: Take a look at the title before you even read the poem. What could it mean? Sometimes, the title is very straightforward – that tells you a great deal about what to expect from the poem. Often, the title is somewhat cryptic in nature. That should tell you something about what to expect, too.
Paraphrase: What is the literal meaning of the poem? It’s difficult to get the figurative meaning of the poem if you can’t figure out the literal meaning.
Connotation: This is the most important part of your analysis; it’s where you should demonstrate the most work. What is the implied meaning, and how does the poet convey this meaning? (Hint: It does NOT simply mean “negative” or “positive” connotation.) Sample ideas to look for:

  1. Specific diction

  2. Syntax

  3. Imagery

  4. Symbols and Motifs

  5. Poetry terms such as metaphor, simile, hyperbole, alliteration, paradox, allusion, rhyme scheme, etc.

  6. In short, any literary device used in the poem fits under the connotation category.

Attitude: What is the tone of the poem? Come up with at least two tone words that pinpoint the exact attitude of the poet toward the topic.
Shift: There is a shift of some sort in nearly every poem written. It might be a shift in tone, in subject matter, in meaning, in rhyme scheme – anything. Look for the shift, and then decide why the poet has a shift in that particular place.
Title: Take another look at the title. What does it mean to you now that you’ve analyzed the poem?
Theme: In a sentence, what is the theme, the poet’s message? In other words, what statement about life is the poet making? Be careful: theme is difficult to nail down, and all too often students put down the subject matter instead of the theme.

#1 – Sound and Sense by Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,

As those move easiest who have learned to dance.

'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,

The sound must seem an echo to the sense:

Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, 5

And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;

But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,

The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar;

When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,

The line too labors, and the words move slow; 10

Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,

Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.

Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,

And bid alternate passions fall and rise!

#2 – Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, 5

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!-An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, 10

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.-

Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight 15

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin, 20

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs

Bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 25

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.

#3 - To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvel (1621-78)

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness Lady were no crime.

We would sit down and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love's day.

Thou by the Indian Ganges' side 5

Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the flood,

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversion of the Jews. 10

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires and more slow;

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;

Two hundred to adore each breast, 15

But thirty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart.

For, lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate. 20

But at my back I always hear

Times winged chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found; 25

Nor, in thy marble vault shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long preserved virginity,

And your quaint honor turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust: 30

The grave's a fine and private place,

But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore while the youthful hue

Sits on thy skin like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires 35

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may,

And now, like amorous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour

Than languish in his slow-chapped power. 40

Let us roll all our strength and all

Our sweetness up into one ball,

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Thorough the iron gates of life:

Thus, though we cannot make our sun 45

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

#4 – Woman Work by Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
I've got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I've got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Shine on me, sunshine

Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.

Storm, blow me from here

With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
'Til I can rest again.

Fall gently, snowflakes

Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.

Sun, rain, curving sky

Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You're all that I can call my own.

#5 - Sonnet 30 from Amoretti by Sir Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

My love is like to ice, and I to fire;

How comes it then that this her cold so great

Is not dissolved through my so-hot desire,

But harder grows the more I her intreat?

Or how comes it that my exceeding heat 5

Is not delayed by her heart frozen cold;

But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,

And feel my flames augmented manifold?

What more miraculous thing may be told

That fire which all things melts, should harden ice: 10

And ice which is congealed with senseless cold,

Should kindle fire by wonderful device?

Such is the power of love in gentle mind,

That it can alter all the course of kind.

#6 - M. Degas Teaches Art & Science At Durfee Intermediate School--Detroit, 1942 by Philip Levine (1928-2015)

He made a line on the blackboard,

one bold stroke from right to left
diagonally downward and stood back
to ask, looking as always at no one
in particular, "What have I done?"
From the back of the room Freddie
shouted, "You've broken a piece
of chalk." M. Degas did not smile.
"What have I done?" he repeated.
The most intellectual students
looked down to study their desks
except for Gertrude Bimmler, who raised
her hand before she spoke. "M. Degas,
you have created the hypotenuse
of an isosceles triangle." Degas mused.
Everyone knew that Gertrude could not
be incorrect. "It is possible,"
Louis Warshowsky added precisely,
"that you have begun to represent
the roof of a barn." I remember
that it was exactly twenty minutes
past eleven, and I thought at worst
this would go on another forty
minutes. It was early April,
the snow had all but melted on
the playgrounds, the elms and maples
bordering the cracked walks shivered
in the new winds, and I believed
that before I knew it I'd be
swaggering to the candy store
for a Milky Way. M. Degas
pursed his lips, and the room
stilled until the long hand
of the clock moved to twenty one
as though in complicity with Gertrude,
who added confidently, "You've begun
to separate the dark from the dark."
I looked back for help, but now
the trees bucked and quaked, and I
knew this could go on forever.
#7 - Since feeling is first by E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

and death i think is no parenthesis

#8 - The Portrait by Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006)

My mother never forgave my father

for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.

#9 - Believing in Iron by Yusef Komunyakaa (1947-)

The hills my brothers & I created

Never balanced, & it took years
To discover how the world worked.
We could look at a tree of blackbirds
& tell you how many were there,
But with the scrap dealer
Our math was always off.
Weeks of lifting & grunting
Never added up to much,
But we couldn't stop
Believing in iron.
Abandoned trucks & cars
Were held to the ground
By thick, nostalgic fingers of vines
Strong as a dozen sharecroppers.
We'd return with our wheelbarrow
Groaning under a new load,
Yet tiger lilies lived better
In their languid, August domain.
Among paper & Coke bottles
Foundry smoke erased sunsets,
& we couldn't believe iron
Left men bent so close to the earth
As if the ore under their breath
Weighed down the gray sky.
Sometimes I dreamt how our hills
Washed into a sea of metal,
How it all became an anchor
For a warship or bomber
Out over trees with blooms
Too red to look at.
#10 – Mexicans Begin Jogging by Gary Soto (1952-)
At the factory I worked
In the fleck of rubber, under the press
Of an oven yellow with flame,
Until the border patrol opened
Their vans and my boss waved for us to run.
"Over the fence, Soto," he shouted,
And I shouted that I was an American.
"No time for lies," he said, and passes
A dollar in my palm, hurrying me
Through the back door.

Since I was on his time, I ran
And became the wag to a short tail of Mexicans--
Ran past the amazed crowds that lined
The street and blurred like photographs, in rain.
I ran from that industrial road to the soft
Houses where people paled at the turn of an autumn sky.
What could I do but yell vivas
To baseball, milkshakes, and the sociologists
Who would clock me
As I jog into the next century
On the power of a great, silly grin.

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