Course Description

Course Title: AP Literature and Composition
Length of Course: Two Semesters
Course Description
Advanced Placement English has three main purposes. The first is to refine writing abilities with
emphasis on maturity of style and thought as a means of effective and fluent expression. Before
entering college, immature syntax, superficial analysis, and major grammatical errors should have
vanished from writing. In fact, the mastery of writing will be the foundation for the entire college
education. The second purpose is to introduce the study of fiction, drama, and poetry in order to
increase understanding of literature through critical analysis and thinking. The final purpose is to
prepare to earn college credit through critical analysis and thinking. The final purpose is to prepare to
earn college credit through the AP Examination by mastering the two skills outlined above.
Students will use the terms of rhetorical and figurative language on a daily basis: poetic language,
diction, syntax. These are devices an author uses to express his/her view of life and mankind’s place in it.
As an author is the voice of an age, a social commentator on the ills and successes of his generation, it
will be important to delve briefly into the history of the age and the author’s response to it. The class
itself will be a discussion-oriented one using the inductive reasoning method. Some of the time will be
teacher-directed; sometimes it will be student-led, using the Socratic Method.
This class is in a discussion-oriented class that will refine reading, writing, and analytical skills. It fulfills
the requirements of the AP Course Description. In order to prepare the AP student for the college
experience we will explore and emulate those skills necessary for success in that arena. Students will
also prepare for the AP exam to be administered in May. To that end, students will take sample AP
tests, do in-class timed writings, and employ critical and analytical thinking skills to the literary pieces we
read. British and American writers covering a variety of genres and ages (primarily 16th century through
the present time) will be the focus of our study.
Evaluation: County grading scale:
A – 90-100
B – 80-89
C – 70-79
D – 60-69
F – 59 and below
I will use four kinds of grades for evaluation:
Daily grades
- 15% (study guides, Socratic Seminars)
- 25% (both oral and written, memorization passages)
- 30%
There is a summer reading requirement for AP English Literature and Composition class which students
pick up in the spring before their senior year. They are to read Dante’s Inferno, Kafka’s Metamorphosis
and Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor. During the first week of the school in the fall
students will turn in a chart of the nine circles of hell, the guard, the inhabitants, and their punishments
from Dante’s Inferno. They will summarize each chapter of How to Read Literature. In addition,
students are to write a 1000-word essay in which they discuss the meaning of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.
Finally, an objective test will be given over all works during the second week of school. These three
works are vital in understanding many of the selections that we read because of the allusions to them.
The class is structured thematically. All selections will contribute to an understanding and statement of
each quarter’s themes.
Course Goals:
To carefully read and analyze imaginative literature.
To understand the way writers use language to provide meaning and pleasure.
To consider a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as smaller scale elements as the use of
figurative language, imagery, symbolism, syntax, diction, voice, and tone.
To study representative works from various genres and periods (from the sixteenth to the twentieth
century) but know a few works extremely well.
To understand a work’s complexity, to absorb richness of meaning, and to analyze how meaning is
embodied in literary form.
To consider the social and historical values a work reflects and embodies.
To have frequent opportunities for writing to understand, writing to explain, and writing to evaluate
literature including timed writings.
To write focusing on critical analysis of literature including expository, analytical, and argumentative
essays was well as creative writing to sharpen understanding of writers’ accomplishments and deepen
appreciation of literary artistry.
To use effective rhetorical strategies in writing tasks.
To become aware through speaking, listening, reading, and chiefly writing of the resources of language;
connotation, metaphor, irony, syntax, and tone.
Elements of the Course:
This course includes the following elements:
Required readings
Composition to include analytical and critical essays
Timed writings
Grammar instruction, as problems arise, and feedback.
Periodic tests and quizzes over reading
Preparation for the AP Literature and Composition Exam
Reading and Writing Assignments
Reading Assignments
The most important requirement for this course is that students read every assignment – read it with
care and in a timely manner. Students unused to literature courses will need to plan time in their
schedules for more reading than most courses require. Poetry, though usually not long, is dense and
complicated and should always be read at least twice. Novels in particular require planning.
Writing Assignments
Writing is an integral part of the AP English Literature and Composition course and exam. Writing
assignments focus on the critical analysis of literature and include expository, analytical, and
argumentative essays. Although critical analysis makes up the build of student writing for the course,
well-constructed creative writing assignments may help students see from the inside how literature is
written. Such experiences sharpen their understanding of what writers have accomplished and deepen
their appreciation of literary artistry. The goal of both types of writing assignments is to increase
students’ ability to explain clearly, cogently, even elegantly what they understand about literary works
and why they interpret them as they do. Revisions are required following peer editing and or/teacher
comments and directives in writing conferences.
To that end, writing instruction includes attention to developing and organizing ideas in clear, coherent,
and persuasive language. It includes study of the elements style. And it attends to matters of precision
and correctness as necessary. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on helping students develop
stylistic maturity, which for AP English, is characterized by the following:
a wide-ranging vocabulary used with denotative accuracy and connotative resourcefulness;
a variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordinate and coordinate
a logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques of coherence such as repetition,
transitions, and emphasis;
a balance of generalization with specific illustrative detail; and
an effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, maintaining a consistent voice, and
achieving emphasis through parallelism and antithesis.
Plagiarism Policy
Plagiarism is using another person’s thoughts and accomplishments without proper acknowledgement
or documentation. It is an unconscionable offense and a serious breach of the honor code. In keeping
with the policy, students will receive a zero for the plagiarized work.
Performance Tasks:
Timed essays based on past AP prompts
Essay questions as required of college-level writers
Reading/responding/analyzing of novels, drama, fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Imaginative writing including but not limited to poetry, imaginative structures
Literary Analysis Papers – expository and persuasive
Graphic Organizers
Required Text and Materials:
In the AP Literature and Composition course a variety of selected anthologies and novels may be used.
Students should consider obtaining a personal copy of the various novels, plays, epics, poems, and short
fiction for their own use. Personal ownership allows them to annotate books for careful analysis. Copies
may be purchased from a local bookstore, or from an online book source. Some works will be provided
by teachers while others may be accessed at the public library or online.
Sequencing of Course Curriculum:
Quarter I
Theme: Man’s place in the universe
Reading List: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare’s MacBeth, Thomas Hardy’s Mayor of Casterbridge,
selections from the book of Job in the Bible, Archibald MacLeish’s JB.
We will be concentrating on observing a piece of literature as it relates to the theme incorporating its
historical relevance as well as the rhetorical/poetic devices the author use in order to portray this theme
in their works.
During the 1st quarter we will discuss writing the essay. The first assignment will be the college
application essay. For this particular assignment, we will discuss writing an expository essay which will
show their literary ability as well as their views on a particular prompt. Incorporating a personal voice as
well as sound writing techniques will be introduced using William Strunk’s Elements of Style. I will show
them how to build an essay for the essays required both for the class and the AP exam. These will
include writing the claim, supporting with specific and thorough evidence, good writing techniques,
vocabulary, organization, and style. These will be reiterated and reviewed throughout the year.
We will be discussing the rhetorical/poetic devices by keeping a vocabulary journal of those terms with
periodic quizzes over them. The terms and definitions will come from Robert DiYanni’s Literature as well
as well as other texts available to the class.
Assignments and Assessments: Essay on each of the major works, outside novel (Graham Greene’s
Power and the Glory), research/essay on the outside novel, class discussions, sample AP tests, Socratic
seminars, memorization passage (Macbeth)
Essay options on the in-class novels:
1. Discuss the purpose and significance of the title of the novel.
2. Select a particular passage and show how it relates to the context as well as the work as a
3. Discuss at least 3 literary devices ( e.g. figurative language, motif, contradiction, parallelism…) as
it relates to the theme of the novel.
These essays can be revised following my written comments and, when necessary, individual
consultations. This process will be repeated throughout the year as we work on how to succinctly
discuss an author’s style as well as establishing students’ own voice.
The paper on the outside novel can be written on the same options as the in-class novels, or students
may choose their own particular topic contingent on my approval. The outside paper must have at least
3 sources of literary criticism from primary sources documented using the MLA style.
Throughout the year we will also be doing Socratic seminars (3 times per quarter). These are designed to
promote cooperative learning and to develop critical thinking/analytical skills. These seminars will be
teacher-led for the first 2 and then student-led for the rest of the year. Study questions on the books or
passages will be given at the beginning of the class period and will include items that allow students to
analyze and interpret the author’s use of rhetorical devices, writing style, persona, philosophical ideas
and how they enhance the meaning of the work. Points are awarded to individual students based on
their insightful comments or questions.
Quarter 2
Theme: Man’s struggle for control
Reading List: Robert DiYanni’s Literature (McGraw-Hill, St. Louis, 2002), poetry/prose from the
Renaissance (Wyatt, Howard, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Raleigh, Donne, Milton), Age of Reason (Pope,
Bacon), Romantics (Wordsworth, Blake, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau),
Shakespeare’s Othello, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Assignments and Assessments: Poetry analysis paper of 1200 words, multiple choice/essay tests on
major works, sample AP essays, exams, Socratic seminars.
The quarter poetry analysis paper will be on a poem of choice (subject to approval) from any age,
analyzing the poet’s use of poetic devices [tone, figurative language, diction, syntax, alliteration…] in his
approach to his subject. Students will make both qualitative and quantitative analyses of the poet’s
success in the use of those devices. Revisions will be done.
We will continue class discussions, Socratic seminars using the inductive reasoning method on each of
the poems, plays, and novels. We will discuss different kinds of poems (the sonnet, lyrical, ballad, epic,
cavalier). Particular poetic devices (alliteration, structure, imagery, metaphor, simile, synecdoche,
metonymy, spilled rhythm, feminine/masculine rhyme, meter…) will be addressed as they relate to
enhancement of the poem’s meaning.
In discussing Othello and Pride and Prejudice we will particularly focus on prejudices and how they affect
behavior both in works read and in our daily culture and how they are important in man’s attempt to
control his sphere of life. The writing in this quarter will be geared toward understanding and explaining
those prejudices and how they affect the life of the characters. Our discussion of the essays will be on
evaluating Austen’s use of satire.
The first quarter final exam grade will consist of 50 multiple choice questions from 4 sample AP passages
taken either from one of the books we have read or a passage by one of the authors we have read. In
addition, there will be one free response essay question. Student may answer it using any of the works
we have read.
Quarter 3
Reading List: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, T.S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” and
the “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and William Goldings Lord of the Flies.
Assignments and Assessments: Outside reading (Edith Wharton’s Ethan Fromme), research/essay on
either of the outside reading books, weekly discussion of sample AP passages/mc questions from
Multiple-choice and Free-response Questions in Preparation for the AP Exam, weekly sample essays from
the same book written in class, tests on major works.
Once a week, a former AP prompt will be given. Students will answer these in essay format. I will grade
these as “daily” grade and return them to students on Friday. Every three weeks students will revise
one of these essay for a “writing” grade. We will continue to review, if necessary, “building the essay”
(from quarter 1) by discussing the writing of the claim, analysis of rhetorical devices and how to support
them, and particularly, the author’s use of all these things to show his theme: his commentary on the
human condition. We will review the structure of writing chronologically (going through the passage line
by line) and thematically (writing on each component of the AP exam prompt), deciding which is better
and more successful for each student. Revisions will be done.
The quarter paper on the outside reading will focus on the author as a social commentator for his age.
In the case of …Godot, it will discuss the existential philosophy of the author and its relevance to the
play, including how the times dictated his ideas. In Picture… the paper should concentrate on the social
mores of the time period and how they affect the ideas in the novel. In addition, the essays should
incorporate rhetorical devices the author used to enhance his themes. Revisions will be done on these
papers as above.
One a week, one of the passages from the Multiple-choice and Free-response workbook will be assigned.
We will then discuss in class the responses and justification for them. The purpose is to train students to
read and use the questions to gain understanding from the passage as well as to give them tools to
critically understand the passage and answer the multiple-choice questions on the AP exam.
Our discussions of Eliot’s poems will concentrate on allusions and the part they play in enhancing an
author’s theme.
Quarter 4
Theme: Man’s image of himself
Reading List: James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, contemporary poetry from the DiYanni
book (Housman, Yeats, Bishop, Cummings, Levertov, Swenson, Stevens, Thomas, Wilbur, Frost,
Sandburg), short story unit on Southern Gothic writers (Welty – “A Worn Path,” O’Connor – “A Good
Man is Hard to Find,” Faulkner – “A Rose for Emily”), review for AP exam!
Assignments and Assessments: Test on the major works, weekly sample AP multiple choice passages,
weekly essays from prompts of past AP exams, senior presentation of one of the works studied, the AP
In the final quarter we will discuss contemporary poetry of the 20th century, including the sestina and
villanelle forms. We’ll also try our hand at writing them. We will critique the poetry in light of the 20th
century’s ideas and philosophies as well as the political and social issues that fostered them. Discussions
will include the usual poetic devices that are used and how they enhance the themes of the poets.