AP English Literature and Composition

 
 

Details

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition is a grade 12 course with an emphasis on literary analysis that meets the curricular requirements described in the AP English Course Description published by College Board. It is designed a rigorous freshman college/university course that “engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature” (42). By the end of the year, you will have studied works written in several genres by both British and American authors from the sixteenth century to the present and will have written extensively and critically on what you have read. You will not only be challenged academically this year, but will also expand your current threshold for intellectual discipline and risk. It is my assumption that you plan to take the AP Exam. Therefore, a majority of this course is designed to prepare you for this exam. If this is not your desire, you might want to consider an alternate course. 

 

Proposed Texts This Unit

  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare
  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Bless Me Ultima, by Anaya Rudolfo
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
  • A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
  • As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  • The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  • Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles
 

Proposed Supplementary Texts

  • “A&P,” by John Updike
  • “Shiloh,” by Bobbie Ann Mason
  • “A Rose for Emily,” by William Faulkner
  • “A Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin
  • “‘Mericans,” by Sandra Cisneros
  • “Araby,” by James Joyce
  • “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker
  • “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien
  • “Haunting Olivia,” by Karen Russell
  • excerpts from Paradise Lost, by John Milton
  • excerpts from The Divine Comedy:Inferno, by Dante Alighieri
  • “The World is Too Much With Us,” and “Tintern Abbey,” by William Wordsworth
  • “The Lamb,” and “The Tyger,” by William Blake
  • “I Want a Wife,” by Judith Sykes
  • “Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” by Mary Wollstonecraft
  • “Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid
  • “Yellow Woman,” by Leslie Silko
  • “Rape Fantasies,” by Margaret Atwood
  • “Dulce et Decorum Est,” by Wilfred Owen
  • “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • “Thanatopsis,” by William Cullen Bryant
  • “Death, Be Not Proud,” John Donne
  • “Tragedy of the Common Man,” by Arthur Miller
  • “The Death of the Moth,” by Virginia Woolf
  • “The Necklace,”by  Guy de Maupassant
  • “Luck,” by Mark Twain
  • “Battle Royal,” by Ralph Ellison
  • “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin
  • “A Hunger Artist,” by Franz Kafka
  • “Schoolsville,” by Billy Collins
  • “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” by Randall Jarrell
  • “The Naked and the Nude,” by Robert Graves
  • “next to of course god america i,” E.E. Cummings
  • “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” Wilfred Owen
  • “Miss Brill,” by Katherine Mansfield
  • “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

Unit One: The AP Exam

Concepts:

The format of the AP Exam in English Literature and Composition, the Multiple Choice section, three types of free-response questions, analyzing the prompt, close reading, the AP rubric.

Supplements:

  • Various handouts and powerpoint presentations
  • AP English Literature Released Exam questions (multiple choice and free response (present in every unit and not to be specified further)
  • Answering “So What?” (an essay about essays)

In the first week+ of class, students will read several student essay responses to three AP free-response questions and evaluate them, in groups, against the published rubrics. After analyzing how AP exam prompts can reveal context and theme, students then will respond to a published question with an essay of their own which will be evaluated by two classmates and myself. This composition will serve as the first graded AP essay assignment for the class. Students make metacognitive notes in their writing journal about the strengths and weaknesses of their writing. The purpose of this graded activity is to familiarize students with the AP test format, to instill in them a sense of the professional expectations for their work that go beyond the personal tastes of the teacher, to give them a fair assessment of their skills prior to any formal instruction, and to develop an eye for the critical assessments of AP writing.

A multiple choice AP exam will be completed individually, then evaluated collaboratively before the answers are finally revealed. Students will be responsible for explaining in detail how their analysis of prompt and text lead to their incorrect answers and why the correct answers are superior. This metacognitive activity is important for developing a question sense that will support students in identifying correct answers and avoiding distractors through close analysis of the exam excerpt, the multiple choice questions, and the possible responses. 

Outside of Class: 

  • Close reading and wiki creation of How to Read Literature Like a Professor chapters, collaboratively.
  • Students create multiple choice questions of important information (Novel Qs). This is the basis of a Quiz and provides an introduction to reading techniques necessary in both the AP essay responses and novel discussions that will take place throughout the year.
  • Close reading of AP essay excerpt

Unit Two: The Great Gatsby

Concepts:

Introduction to literary criticism: formalism and function, moral and philosophical criticism and theme, historical criticism (Jazz Age), mythic and archetypal criticism and Gatsby as hero; marxism and the bourgeois in Gatsby; feminism and the women of Gatsby. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Fitzgerald’s use of the Platonic Conception of Oneself are examined and various extended metaphors are considered as creators of setting and character. Writing effective introductory paragraphs.

Supplements:

  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Various Handouts and Powerpoints on mode of literary criticism, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, extended metaphors, and elements of voice (diction, syntax, imagery, tone, theme, etc)
  • Poems for independent study and response (weekly, at most) 
  • Literature, an Introduction to Reading and Writing
  • “Miss Brill,” by Katherine Mansfield
  • “”The Necklace,” by Guy de Maupassant
  • “Araby,” by James Joyce

This unit of approximately two-three weeks details a variety of literary criticism modes, with students exploring and writing about multiple before choosing one to develop into a larger, revised essay. Students are provided with lists of literary terms, including elements of voice and figures of speech and begin to prioritize them in their word bank based on familiarity while also adding words from Gatsby and other material that may be unknown to them. In addition, as Gatsby is read students add entries to their dialectical journal that explores setting, character, the modes of literary criticism and Gatsby. Short stories accompany reading from Literature to describe the means by which authors create character and setting.

Outside of Class:

  • Dialectical Journaling
  • Novel Q’s
  • Book File
  • Short Stories
  • Close reading of AP exam excerpt/prompt
  • Literary Criticism essay

Unit Three: Heart of Darkness

Concepts:

Syntax, structure, symbol, figurative language, and theme are the focus of this unit, with continued connections to archetypes and allegory. Freudianism (id, ego, superego) and frame tale introduced as symbolic and structural components, respectively. May include an introduction to Faust.

Supplements:

  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  • Various Handouts and Powerpoints on related concepts
  • AP English Literature Released Exam questions (multiple choice and free response)
  • Poems for independent study and response (weekly, at most) 
  • Literature, an Introduction to Reading and Writing
  • “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
  • “Battle Royal,” Ralph Ellison
  • “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • “Haunting Olivia,” by Karen Russell
  • Greek ferryman Charon
  • Dante’s Inferno

In a unit of approximately two weeks, we discuss common symbols in society and art. Connections are made between figurative language, metaphor, simile, archetypes, and allegory in both short stories and Heart of Darkness. Students draw comparisons between Heart of Darkness and Dante’s Inferno, with discussion of allusion. Students may be tasked with creating their own hell. Allusion, symbol, and theme are further discussed in “Haunting Olivia and “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” Students are provided with the structural components of writing, and the role of structure in creating meaning is considered in “Where are You Going, Where Have you Been?” and “Battle Royal.” A rhetorical analysis essay on the construction of theme through figurative language or symbol in Heart of Darkness (especially the natives, the river, and Kurtz) is developed and revised; essentially, what is Joseph Conrad trying to tell us, and what tools does he use to do so? In this essay, students must include structural components that are required for all future essays: two balanced, parallel, loose, and periodic sentences; two simple, complex, compound, and compound sentences; a semicolon, colon, dash, and intentional fragment.

Outside of Class:

  • Dialectical Journaling
  • Novel Q’s
  • Book File
  • Short stories
  • Close reading of AP exam excerpt/prompt
  • Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Unit Four: Frankenstein

Concepts: 

Romantic Period, romance, gothic novel, epistolary novel, frame story, doppelganger/alter ego, simulacra and simulation(maybe), Byronic hero, Nature, feminism

Supplements:

  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Myth of Prometheus
  • excerpts from Paradise Lost, by John Milton 
  •     Lines 720-1100
  • “The World is Too Much With Us,” and “Tintern Abbey,” by William Wordsworth
  • “The Lamb,” and “The Tyger,” by William Blake
  • “I Want a Wife,” by Judith Sykes
  • “Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” by Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Chap. X. Parental Affection.    
  • Chapter XI. Duty to Parents
  • Chap. XII. On National Education.

In a unit of approximately two-three weeks, the Romantic period and romantic (Byronic) hero are presented. Connections to feminism are made through Wollstonecraft, and allusions to Paradise Lost regarding falls from grace, original sin, and temptation. The Myth of Prometheus is of prime importance, and Lord Byron’s poem “Prometheus” may be included.

Outside of Class:

  • Dialectical Journaling
  • Novel Q’s
  • Book File
  • Short stories
  • Close reading of AP exam excerpt/prompt
  • Revised Essay

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If your student needs to make up an exam or receive tutoring support, an English department tutor is available Monday through Friday on campus.

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I am available on Thursdays, at 8-8:30 am and 3:30-3:45 pm.

Fitzgerald
Conrad
Shelley
Mansfield
Maupassant
Joyce
Oates
Ellison
Garcia Marquez
Russell
Dante