AP ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION SYLLABUS
DESCRIPTION OF COURSE
This Advanced Placement course is designed to be a college-level class and is designed to comply with the curricular requirements described in the AP English Course Description. In our school students mainly study American literature in the English Language and Composition course, and they study British literature in the English Literature and Composition course, but we do teach some world literature also. (CS) I strive to get the students to focus on interpreting literature based on structure, theme, social and historical values reflected in the piece, tone, vocabulary expansion, mechanics, and figurative language. They will practice daily grammar skills and sentence types to help them use a variety of sentence structures and syntax in their writing. During the writing process, students will peer-edit to provide feedback to each other while also noting good writing skills evidenced. I use Peterson's AP grading rubric (from Peterson's AP English Literature and Composition Success) for instruction, feedback, and evaluation. Students are given opportunities to practice skills needed to pass the AP Literature and Composition test by learning multiple-choice strategies, vocabulary of analysis, and application of terms to literature (both poetry and prose).
Intensive study and analysis of a wide-range of literature.
The works selected for study will require careful reading to understand multiple meanings. This will include poetry and the diction of poetry and analysis in each historical unit. Selections from past AP Literature and Composition exams may be studied as well as those from our textbooks. Students will explicate and analyze (using methods such as TP-CASTT) a variety of poems.
PRIMARY CLASS TEXT
We use Glencoe British Literature, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2002. The class may also examine Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry, Thomas R. Arp, Harcourt, 1997. Another very useful book is Peterson's AP Success. I also have class sets of novels and dramatic works available.
Unit 1: Anglo-Saxon-Middle Ages- 6 weeks
Students will read and identify the major historical and cultural developments of the periods. (C3) They will recognize how the culture produced a distinctive body of literature, both through their reading and by teacher-given lecture. Students will create graphic organizers that summarize the effects of important historical developments on Old English poetry and prose by considering the social and historical values reflected as well as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone. They will compare Old English literary themes to current themes in literature by drawing upon textual details and universality. Students will expand their vocabularies from a list provided by the teacher in order to use wider-ranging diction in their writing. (C5) They will respond to the following writing prompt: Epic heroes usually exemplify the character traits most admired by their societies. What qualities are most admired by Beowulf's society? Write a one-page essay on the ideal man, citing evidence from the poem. I will provide instruction and feedback on their writing assignment before, during, and after to help them develop a wider-ranging vocabulary, including literary terms we studied in the unit such as kenning, apostrophe; I will encourage them to use a variety of sentence structures as we practice daily as a bell ringer activity; the students will work on logical organization using techniques such as transitions and illustrative details. (C5)
Literary selections we have available and may read include the following poems(selections may chance from year to year):
Beowulf, The Seafarer, Sir Patrick Spens, Bonny Barbara Allan, and Canterbury Tales. After reading the three ballads, students will analyze each narrative and then express a clear opinion about the comparative gains and losses of the ballad as a type of poetry as compared to other types, supporting with specific details. Students will then write about a current song that supports their opinion about the ballad's effectiveness and if it is better or worse than other types of poetry.
Prose selections: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Le Morte d' Arthur. Students will review the technique of alliteration and use it in a writing assignment. Based on the Green Knight, students will compose an informal freewriting piece about a knight of a color symbolic of his quest. (C4) They will include the characteristics of a medieval romance also, using a controlling tone, appropriate diction, and sentence structure/dialogue. (C5). Feedback will be provided by peers and teacher.
Unit 2: I-Search Paper-2 weeks
Students will explore ideas about themselves to determine their interests for life beyond high school. They will use library resources to find three colleges they are interested in attending. Their expository writing (C4) about the colleges that fit with their goals will establish and maintain voice, achieve appropriate emphasis on their career choice through diction and sentence structure, illustrative details, and logical organization to increase coherence using transitions. (C5) Teacher will provide instruction and feedback through the research and writing process. This will be a follow-up assignment from the previous year of writing a letter of application to a college.
Unit 3: The English Renaissance-6 weeks
Students will read Sonnet 30 and Sonnet 75 by Edmond Spenser, Sonnet 31 and Sonnet 39 by Sir Philip Sidney, and Sonnets 29, 73, 116, 130 by William Shakespeare. Teacher will provide instruction in recognizing the formula for various sonnets. Students will then use a group discussion format to establish an understanding and focus of a selected sonnet. They will share examples of figurative language, such as imagery, symbolism, tone, sound devices, etc. Then they will do an explication of the sonnet. (C3) Guidelines are as follows. Write a thesis statement that includes your interpretation of the poem's meaning, structure, style, and theme; support your thesis by providing examples of how elements in the poem relate to your interpretation, including social and historical values reflective of the Renaissance; conclude your analysis by restating or reinforcing your thesis; present an analysis of the sonnet that is free of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics. As an AP test preparation test, I will give a multiple choice test from Peterson's AP Success book over Sonnet 55. Students must base their answers on content, style, and form. Then using Sonnet 18, students will write a timed essay (also from Peterson's AP Success). The prompt is: William Shakespeare was such a master of the sonnet form that the terms "Shakespearean sonnet" and "English sonnet" are interchangeable. Read the following poem (Sonnet 18) carefully. Write an essay discussing how the poet uses the sonnet form to convey his love. Consider such elements as speaker, imagery, and poetic devices. I will use the Self-Evaluation Rubric in this book to assess students' progress in writing the free response essay on this poem.
Students will gain experience reading two Shakespearean plays, Hamlet and Macbeth. They will compare/contrast the protagonists' fatal flaws, Shakespeare's language, as well as the form and function of tragedy. Teacher will provide instruction on stagecraft and stage directions. Students will choose roles and read plays aloud, with teacher allowing time for discussion and understanding. Students will answer reading comprehension/literary analysis questions and develop a more wide-ranging vocabulary throughout the reading process. Upon completion, students will write an analytical essay comparing the two plays by drawing upon the textual details used to make and explain judgments about the works' artistry and quality as well as its social and cultural values. (C4)
The writing prompt will be one of two past AP Literature Question Writing Prompts (to vary from year to year): CHOICE ONE: An individual's struggle toward understanding and awareness is the traditional subject for the novelist In an essay, apply this statement to one novel (I changed it to two plays) of literary merit. Organize your essay according to the following plan: 1) compare the hero as we see him in an early scene with the hero as we see him in a scene near the end of the novel. 2) Describe the techniques that the author uses to reveal the new understanding and awareness that the hero has achieved. CHOICE TWO: A recurring theme in literature is "the classic war between passion and responsibility." For instance, a personal cause, a love, a desire for revenge, a determination to redress a wrong, or some other emotion or drive may conflict with moral duty. Choose a literary work (here the two plays) in which a character confronts the demands of a private passion that conflicts with his or her responsibilities. In a well-written essay, show clearly the nature of the conflict, its effects upon the character, and its significance to the work. Avoid plot summary.
Unit 4: The Research Paper-3 weeks
Students will write to evaluate in this formal, extended Pro-Con-Pro assignment. They will write an analytical, argumentative paper in which they draw upon textual details to make and explain judgments and their opinions on a subject using the MLA format. (C4) In order to find appropriate evidence for an argumentative topic, students will access SIRS and EBSCO for the most current information available. After selecting a topic of interest, the students will locate resources and write annotated bibliography cards. Students will then begin composing their note cards. Their rough draft must contain a clearly developed thesis which guides the entire paper. Students will also be made award of the dangers of plagiarizing their papers. The final draft will include a title page; proper pagination, margins, and font; works cited page; proper use of parenthetical documentation, correct pro-con-pro format; and correct use of mechanics, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. Teacher provides instruction and feedback through the entire process. (C5)
Unit 5: The Romantic Period-5 weeks
We begin this unit with William Blake's poetry. We will read A Poison Tree, The Lamb, and The Tyger, which explore the nature of good and evil, and observe the unusual imagery Blake uses to achieve this. Students will understand also his use of metaphors and then will write an informal analysis of the author's thematic ideas. AP test practice will come from Peterson's AP Success. Students will reread The Lamb and answer multiple choice question on the poem's content, style, and form.
The next poet we focus on is William Wordsworth. After reading Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey", students will write in informal journaling assignment. (C4) Students will describe in their journal a place from their childhood. They will then be asked to respond to how they have changed since last seeing it? (We will refer to A Separate Peace, which was studied the previous year.) They will then predict how this place might be different to them today and give the reasons why it might seem different.
Continuing the journaling theme, we study Dorothy Wordsworth. We read her journal entry that inspired the poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, which we also read and discuss lyric poetry. If weather allows, we go outside to observe nature and write a journal entry about our walk. Upon return to class, students will use their journal entry to compose a poem, using elements such as figurative language, imagery symbolism, tone, rhyme, and rhythm. (C3)
This takes us to narrative poetry and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Teacher will explain that narrative poetry is one of the oldest literary forms and that it can be found in many cultures. Its origins are in the oral tradition (referring back to Beowulf). Students will understand that cultures used narrative poetry to pass history and cultural wisdom from one generation to the next. The storyteller was a sort of human library and usually held an honored status in the community. (C3) After reading and discussing the poem and its literary elements, students will write an exploratory timed essay.(C4) The prompt is taking responsibility for one's actions, a theme in this poem. Write about a time in your life when you have had to accept the blame for a mistake you have made. How did you go about making amends for your error? What advice would you give someone facing a similar situation?
Upon completion of this unit, part of the test will be multiple-choice questions from Peterson's AP Success. Students will read a passage from A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft. This selection of literature consists of questions on content, style, and form. After students read the passage carefully, they choose the best answer
Unit 6: The Victorian Age and the Twentieth Century-8 weeks
We will read four very different works by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: In Memoriam A. H. H., Crossing the Bar, Tears, Idle Tears, and Ulysses. Students will keep a reading journal to enable them to discover what they think about each piece. (C4) Students will then choose a passage from one of the poems that they found especially moving. An example might be ,"Tis better to have loved and lost/ Than never to have loved at all". Students will write an analysis discussing the literary elements Tennyson uses in the passage, such as imagery, metaphor, symbol, or sound devices such as assonance or alliteration. They will explain how these elements work together to create a compelling piece of poetry.
We read George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, discussing how the literary term "romance" has changed since the Middle Ages. Students identify and interpret stage directions, dialogue, dialect, stereotypes, protagonists, and romance while analyzing the young woman's disillusionment and happiness after participating in the creation of an illusion. Throughout the play, we stop and students are asked to write an informal reaction paragraph, an analysis of a character's statements, a dialogue, and advice column, en epilogue, or a review. (C4)
Students will write an analytical essay drawing upon textual details, especially to explain its social and cultural values and the satiric comedy produced by these values. (C4) Students will respond to this previous AP Lit test writing prompt: "The true test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter." George Meredith. Choose a novel, play, or long poem, (of course, we use Pygmalion) in which a scene of character awakens "thoughtful laughter" in the reader. Write an essay in which you show why this laughter is "thoughful" and how it contributes to the meaning of the work.
POETRY: Major poets will be studied as related to the historical period. Students will use TP-CASST to analyze poems as well as studying other poetic forms in literary/historical movements.
PROSE: Again, prose works essential to the historical and cultural developments of British history will be read and analyzed. Students will become familiar with such as literary techniques as rhetoric, tone, voice, diction, sentence structure, and audience.
WRITING: Each study unit will culminate with a writing assessment to show understanding of textual details to develop explanations or interpretations of literary works, to make judgments about a work's quality and value, and to determine a writer's purpose. Each day we briefly review grammar skills, literary terms, and syntax so that students are as prepared as possible for writing. In addition, I will share the best examples of student writing and periodically allow time for students to rewrite to gain facility with the elements in the last writing piece.
DRAMA: Students will read and analyze multiple plays per year. Students will assume a role to read and analyze the character during the reading process. We will also discuss the elements of stage directions and stagecraft techniques.
NOVEL UNITS:-3 weeks
Students will read a minimum of four novels during the year. This will include discussion, analysis, and writing essays, some of which are timed, journaling, and freewriting. We have reading quizzes and discussions in class to keep students on schedule since most of the reading is done outside of class.
Students may read at least any four of the following novels available currently (the list will increase as new books are purchased):
Brave New World
The Handmaid's Tale
A Confederacy of Dunces
Things Fall Apart
Notes from the Underground
Tuesdays With Morrie
Crime and Punishment
Heart of Darkness
The Picture of Dorian Gray
To keep focused, students work sometimes independently and sometimes in pairs to answer "level 1, 2, or 3" questions. They may also use journals to track a character or theme throughout the novel. Students will write exploratory, expository, and analytical essays to demonstrate understanding of the theme.
One theme we have followed is the idea of a utopian/dystopic society. The students were introduced to the idea by creating a Transcendentalist utopian society. They then read Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and The Handmaid's Tale, and Animal Farm. Students discussed such issues as the symbolism of characters' clothing colors, different means of censorship, what happens when you let others think for you, and how the protagonists reacted to their society. An AP Lit test questions from prior tests used as a writing prompt is "All kinds of books have been attacked, suppressed, or disapproved of by authorities, groups, or individuals. Select an important work which you admire and which you propose to defend against possible objections. In a well-planned essay, present reasons why the work might be attacked, and base your defense on a consideration of such matters as its language, the people in it, its mood and spirit, and consequently, its artistic purpose and its value for the readers.
Another example of AP Lit test prompt I use for a timed essay is, "The conflict created when the will of an individual opposes the will of the majority is the recurring theme of many novels, plays, and essays. From a work of recognized literary merit (one of the four mentioned above) select a fictional character who is in opposition to his or her society. In a critical essay, analyze the conflict and discuss the moral and ethical implications for both the individual and the society. Do not summarize the plot or action of the work you choose.
DRAMA UNITS:1-2 weeks
In addition to novels, we also strive to read at least four plays each year. This is a list of drama selections currently available from which we choose to read:
The Glass Menagerie
The Importance of Being Earnest
Students are required to read aloud a role and keep notes/journals, write in-class timed essay using past AP test questions as writing prompts. I look for improved vocabulary, syntax, sentence structure, tone, as well as supporting the prompt with parenthetical documentation. (C4-5)
We interject humor into the class with Pygmalion and The Importance of Being Earnest. Students study the social mores of Victorian England to understand the tones of irony and satire in these works.
After each writing assignment, I share a particularl
y well-written student example as both instruction and feedback for them. They enjoy reading the diction, syntax, organization of details, transitions, textual quotations, rhetorical devices, and mechanics of the piece. They have been very effective in improving their writing by learning from their peers. They also enjoy reading and discussing the strengths of good essays from past AP exams. They learn what is required to succeed on the exam and not to live in fear of it.
The time-frame for each unit has variance each year, so I have tried to allow a couple of weeks for testing times, out-of-class activities, etc.