A.P. English Literature and Composition

A.P. English Literature and Composition

Mission Hills High School

Instructor: Krista Horrigan

Course Syllabus


Goals: The overriding goals for this college-level course are to help students read attentively and perceptively, understand how language complements content, develop an appreciation of literature, and write insightfully and fluidly about it.


* Students will read classic and contemporary texts comprised of novels, plays, short stories, poems, and literary criticism by diverse writers from varied cultures across five centuries of study

* Students will study these texts to explore meaning and will respond to the ideas, issues and themes implicit in them with clarity of thought and expression

* Students will produce timed expository, analytical, and argument essays on a weekly basis that prepare them for the AP English Literature exam

* Students will apply technical writing and grammarlessons to improve their self-expression and to elevate their writing style

* Students will study other artistic mediums such as art slides and film clips-- in conjunction with literature -- to better discern the marriage of form and function

* Students will analyze how authors use language (i.e. diction, syntax, tone, imagery, point of view. etc.) in order to enhance meaning

* Students will consider the literature's social, historical, political, and cultural context when probing meaning

* Students will develop advanced skills in writing style demonstrating varied syntax, rich diction and vivid detail, powerful verbs, descriptive adjectives and adverbs, and dense language to achieve voice

* Students will rewrite longer essays after receiving instructor and peer feedback in areas such as organization, detail and commentary, and writing style

* Students will produce longer and more complex essays that demonstrate advanced skills in composition and analysis

* Students will recognizethe universality of literature

* Students will use literature as a mirror to view the self and others

* Students will develop independence of thought and mature habits of critical thinking

While the above objectives are the backbone of this course, they perhaps do not fully convey the exciting journey upon which we are about to embark in AP English Literature. It is with tremendous excitement that I have the honor of introducing to you some of the greatest works of literature that have ever been produced. It is my hope that by the end of the course, you will see how many of the themes, allusions, archetypes and even sound bites from the literature have become embedded in our culture, and you are able to recognize them everywhere(ex. Big Brother was not a TV show first).

At the beginning of the year, we will focus on analyzing the literature and poetrywith depth and understanding, while we learn the "nuts of bolts" of advanced writing that allow you to showcase your ideas with greater style and sophistication. Such lessons include instruction on topics such as passive voice, power verbs, descriptive adjectives and adverbs, academic diction, embedded quotes, dependent and independent clauses, pronoun-antecedent agreement, dropping prepositions (don’t) and varied syntax, among others. I will also spend instructional time teaching you how create and refine strong introductions, conclusions; I will also instruct you on paragraph organization and development from clear topic sentences to a balance of detail and commentary to effective concluding sentences, fluid transitions and different kinds of essay organization from topical to chronological. With time and application, your writing will achieve greater fluidly and power. You will become very comfortable working with a scoring guide rubric by the end of the year.

While an important activity is weekly timed writing, you will also revise essays at home and in class. Please consider the first-draft comments I have given you regarding (for example) deeper analysis, tighter commentary and more embedded quotation; others may need to spend more time on the language of the essay itself incorporating (for example) richer diction, varied syntax and descriptive detail. Still others, may need more practice in organizing the essay itself with tighter paragraphs, smoother transitions, and more textual evidence to support thesis. Classroom instruction will help students evaluate essays (excellent, good, fair, poor) according to a 9-point rubric in terms of content, style and organization. We will use peer editing also to discuss, critique and revise your work.

We will also review critical literary terminology such as diction, syntax, imagery, tone, figurative language, etc. that we will be using constantly to dig deeper into the texts we study. In the later fall, you willbegin a literary term project that asks you to pair terms with examples from literature and analyze how the example relates to the larger meaning of the work such as theme, conflict, character, symbolism, etc. In the fall, you will produce 15 terms; in the spring, you will produce 10. You may not repeat a term that you have already used and explored.

This course is both reading and writing intensive and offers opportunities for you to work cooperatively and independently. We will study approximately six major works together – Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, The Grapes of Wrath, The Awakening, Their Eyes Were Watching God -- as well as extensive poetry study with in-depth focus on the poetry of T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes. In the fall, you will have the choice of an independent classic; in the spring, you can select a more contemporary text to explore. Units, assignments, and themes for the literature appear in the course outline that follows. An important class activity will be the ongoing reading and scoring of essays according to the College Board rubric to give you a better understanding of the elements which make for a successful, passing essay. All of your formal writing will be assessed by a content/style rubric that we will visit and revisit throughout the year and should reflect your very best Standard English and composition skills. I expect you to incorporate the grammar and writing essentials instruction I referenced earlier as you write, revise and resubmit.

You will be asked to produce and revise many different types of writing. Formal compositions will include the following: personal statement/college essay; timed essays; and formal essays (personal, expository and argumentative). For the timed essays, we will use the scoring guidelines as used by the AP English Literature and Composition Exam for that specific question. Informal writing will include free responses, creative writing and reflections/responses on literary criticisms. We will also do Multiple Choice practice in class. While I will teach you the strategies how to be more successful on multiple-choice questions, the work we do in class discussion on style analysis of many prose passages and poems will also help you substantially.

Hopefully, the outline below will give you a good idea of what to expect for both the fall and spring semester in terms of the literature and the assignments. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need help of any kind. Please keep absences to an absolute minimum. I look forward to a rich and exciting year.

Fall Semester

Poetry: An Overview

·  An introduction to Reading and Writing Poetry (Bedford’s Poetry: An Introduction, fourth edition by Michael Meyer)

·  Students will learn creative and analytical techniques that enable them to read poetry and write about it responsively and insightfully

AP Literary Glossary

·  Students will receive an AP Glossary of Literary and Rhetorical Terms to study and memorize over the course of the next two semesters.

·  The understanding of these terms will assist students in their discussion and analysis of literature

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster – (may alternate with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)

Discussion Questions: What statement does the novel make about Imperialism? Which characters are empowered by race, gender, and class and which are not? What roles do Christianity, Islam and Hinduism play in the novel? How is the text itself ambiguous? Explore the symbolism and significance of the cave scene.

Topics: Forster’s liberal humanism, narration and negation, gender politics, British imperialism, muddle and mystery, satiric elements and comic irony, Elizabethan imagery, names and connotations, the critical reception of the novel

Poetry: A Critical Case Study: T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: Bedford’s Poetry: An Introduction

·  Both student analysis and response, as well as critical excerpts from formalist, biographical, historical, psychological and sociologist perspectives

·  We will tie Forster’s and Eliot’s themes into their social and cultural context and how they are the forerunners of 20th-century modern literature

Short Stories & Literature: selected short stories by Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence from Bedford; passages and selections by Henry James, Emily Bronte and Toni Morrison


·  A character caught between colliding cultures

·  A social occasion that is meaningful (timed essay including scoring guide and anchor papers)

·  A symbol that is significant to the work as a whole

·  Students will revise one of the above essays after receiving peer/instructor feedback. We will review a rubric prior to submission that includes the elements of composition instruction and mini lessons that we have covered in class to date.

·  Instructor will conduct individual writing conferences in and out of class

College Essay

·  Finding the right focus; reviewing model essays; writing and charting to brainstorm; writing with style; revising for maximum impact in terms of language and content

·  We will reviews models of three college essay modes: personal essay, personal reminiscence, and essay of experience – lots of former MHHS power students!

·  Students will revise essay after peer and instructor feedback for early assessment

Poetry: Diction, Tone, Imagery, and Figures of Speech (Bedford’s Poetry: An Introduction)

·  Written and oral analysis and discussion of the following poetic elements and how they enhance meaning: levels of diction; denotations and connotations; persona; ambiguity; syntax; dramatic monologue; carpe diem; patterns of imagery; poetry vs. prose; the metaphor family (metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, personification, apostrophe, hyperbole, understatement, paradox, oxymoron)

·  Selections include poetry from five centuries include the following poems: Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”, Thomas Hardy’s “The Convergence of the Twain”, Galway Kinnell’s “The Quick and the Dead”, Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”, Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est”, Gary Soto’s “Who Will Know Us?”, Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book”, Margaret Atwood’s “February”, Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror”,

·  Essay of analysis: John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” – this lesson will include teacher model and rubric – essay will be shared in class and we will peer edit, evaluate and revise your essay with emphasis on incorporating quotes, diction, syntax, descriptive adjectives and adverbs, power verbs and clarity of thought and expression.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Questions: How does Elizabeth’s character change throughout the course of the three sections? Discuss how the motifs of pride and prejudice are meaningful to the novel. How does Austen use wit, humor and irony to advance the satire? How does the work exemplify a novel of manners? Identify and explain the novel’s climax. To what degree does poetic justice take place at the end of the novel.

Topics: Passion vs. Reason; social class and a changing England; how appearances deceive


·  A second couple who serves as a foil for the first

·  A parent-child relationship that is meaningful

·  Two settings whose contrast is meaningful to the work as a whole

Independent Novel I

·  Students will choose an independent classic novel prior to 1900 from a list of selections including the following: the novels of Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Emily Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables

·  Students will create three typed pages (or five hand-written) of reading logs with reflection, commentary and query reflecting close reading and analysis

·  Students will produce an AP Short Form that demonstrates insight and understanding about the novel, as well as employing advanced writing techniques

Multiple Choice

·  Ongoing practice in Multiple Choice Questions in Preparation for the AP English Literature and Composition Examination (Fifth Edition) by Vogel and Winans

Literary Terms

·  Students produce 15 literary terms analyses using class texts

·  Students may re-submit scored terms for a higher grade

·  Due before Winter Break; students must keep track of returned Literary Terms with weekly score; organize and submit for a final grade in Dec. with an alphabetical table of contents by term and a point grand total

A Shakespearean play such as Hamlet, Macbeth or King Lear TBA

Spring Semester

Poetry: Symbols, Allegory, Irony, Sounds, Meter and Rhythm (Bedford’s Poetry: An Introduction)

·  Written and oral analysis and discussion of the following poetic elements and how they enhance meaning: conventional vs. contextual symbols; allegory and didactic poetry; forms of irony; satire; ballads; sound devices; patterns of rhyme

·  Selections include poetry from five centuries include the following poems: Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night”, Julio Marzan’s “Ethnic Poetry”, Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess”, William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper”, Emily Dickinson’s “A Bird came down the Walk”, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells”, Maxine Hong Kingston’s “Restaurant”, John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale”,

·  Timed in-class writing on poetry comparing and contrasting two Renaissance sonnets including samples and scoring guide

American novel #1 TBA

Long essay on a Shakespearean:

·  Persuasive essay: five pages in length with at least three articles of literary criticism referenced – subject of choice

·  Students submit a thesis and detailed outline for instructor approval and comments prior to writing a first-draft

·  Review of MLA format for citation

·  Direct instruction: review of the essential elements of composition (clear thesis, using quotes smoothly and effectively, balancing quotes and commentary, paragraph development and organization, etc.), grammar (pronoun usage, active voice, punctuation, use of prepositions, etc.) and style (powerful verbs, varied syntax, descriptive imagery, rich diction, etc.). These elements will be included in a grading rubric that we will review prior to paper submission

·  You will be expect to rewrite long essay for a final draft after you receive instructor feedback in writing conference