Advanced Placement English Literature & Composition
Sarah Llewellyn

Course Overview

AP English Literature & Composition is a college course--the curriculum is a rigorous reading- and writing-based class centered on literary analysis, with the objective of refining your ability to discover meaning in literature, as well as your skills in reading, writing, and discussing literature. Understanding that this is a college course, the pace and the workload reflects that this is not a typical senior high school English class. To be successful in this class, students must be committed to being prepared daily with all reading and writing assignments. Students are expected to be reflective learners, considering feedback during class discussion and on assignments, and to apply the feedback they receive to improve their skills in critical reading, writing, and discussion. This course is designed to comply with the course requirements described in the College Board AP English Course Description.

A Typical Week in AP English
A typical week in AP English includes a reading assignment each night (and weekends), and one writing assignment. Some writing assignments are shorter, including notes, outlines and reader response; other assignments may be longer, particularly the formal essays. Occasionally there will be timed in-class writing, typically on the subject of the readings that we are currently studying in class or a sample AP exam prompt. In addition, students are expected to learn and incorporate new vocabulary assigned with during each unit of study. Writing assignments are always scored on a rubric that is specific for the assignment; each rubric includes evaluation of word choice, sentence structure, organization, effective use of evidence, focus on the thesis, development of the thesis, and correct grammar usage. During the first semester students may rewrite any homework essay, however, during the second semester, students may only submit one draft for the grade (though essays may always be rewritten for feedback).

A Typical Unit of Study in AP English
Each unit of study is generally structured to focus on a specific genre of literature, such as the epic or the satire, and includes representative works from different literary time periods in English literature. Some exceptions include the unit on Romantic poetry and the modern novel. In addition, the study of poetry is broken up into smaller units, and each unit includes works from only one or two literary time periods. Each unit of study includes a major unit assessment (exam), a major formal essay, and some informal writing pieces; some units include a group project or a creative (non-essay) project that is designed to reflect your understanding of a text, theme, or concept. The formal essays assigned are analytical essays, in which students are expected to draw upon specific, relevant textual details to support their thesis. Each unit also includes a timed-writing that directly connects to the major works of literature studied.

Units of Study

Unit 1: Introduction to Analytical Perspectives of Literature
Approximate Time: 1-2 weeks

This first unit of study introduces literary analysis and perspectives of analysis for literature. During this first unit we establish the difference between “little l” literature and “big L” Literature, considering what the literary canon is and what kinds of works are included in the canon or are of comparable literary merit as those in the canon. Once we have established the characteristics of works of literary merit, we begin the course with understanding what constitutes literary analysis and the major perspectives of analysis. Students will familiarize themselves with Thomas Foster’s How to Read Literature like a Professor and “Critical Strategies for Reading” from The Bedford Introduction to Literature to facilitate understanding of a work’s literary merit and how to achieve a thorough literary analysis of a text. We will illustrate these strategies through model texts from Kate Chopin, James Joyce, Susan Glaspell, and Samuel Beckett.

During this unit there are two major assessments. The first assessment begins with the essay assessment of the assigned summer reading. Students will use the text and the feedback they receive from this first diagnostic essay to begin refining their approach to analysis. Students will select one of the literary perspectives (one of the text-based or context-based approaches) and apply it to the novel used for the summer reading diagnostic. This first essay is step-by-step. The second assessment will require that students select another novel from the summer reading list and a different analytical perspective; this essay will include fewer steps and will be allowed two submissions: rough draft and final draft. The second assessment will require that students select another novel from the summer reading list and a different analytical perspective; this essay will include fewer steps and will be allowed two submissions: a rough draft and an edited, revised final draft.

Unit 2: The Epic and Medieval Romance
Approximate Time: 3 weeks

We begin at the beginning of English literature with the Anglo-Saxon tradition and Beowulf. During our study of Beowulf we examine the traits of the epic, particularly those most directly evident in English epics. From Beowulf we move to the medieval era, and study the medieval romance narrative (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Malory’s Morte D'arthur). We will then study Edmund Spenser’s sonnets, examining the structure and the medieval romance narrative present in these works. To conclude our unit, we will study John Milton’s Paradise Lost, which will connect well to several other works studied later in this course.

In examining epics that are representative of different literary periods, we will focus closely on the development of the hero and themes. We will consider the significance of the historical contexts of each work, noting that the epic hero is a reflection of the values of the culture that created him. Our focus on the hero will shift to consider how the medieval romance hero is similar to the epic hero, though the themes may be different.

This unit of study will be assessed primarily through tests and quizzes on these works and the literary traits of each genre, as well as an analytical essay on the epic and one on the medieval romance narrative. For each essay students will have their choice of topics. All topics are related to the focal points of our class discussions and are formalist analytical pieces. Students will submit a rough draft and an edited, revised draft for each essay.

Unit 3: Satire
Approximate Time: 3 weeks

This study of satire examines the development of the satire in English literature, and analysis of four major satires that represent different literary periods. Our first reading is a selection of excerpts from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (the General Prologue, the Wife of Bath’s Tale, the Knight’s Tale, and the Pardoner’s Tale); our focus is on the General Prologue, but includes the three tales and discussions of Chaucer’s view of medieval English society. The second reading is Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and focuses on Swift’s views and criticisms of English society and government during the Restoration. We will also study A Modest Proposal and consider the various forms of satire that Swift employs, and the effects of each of them. The third major work studied is Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, which examines the frivolity of Victorian society. Finally, we will study George Orwell’s novel 1984; during this study we will revisit Animal Farm (studied in 9th grade English).

As we study all of these works, we will compare the satirical elements and approaches by each author and consider the effectiveness of those traits. In addition, we will study the appropriate literary elements for each work, such as elements of poetry during our study of Chaucer, elements of drama during our study of Wilde, and the novel with regards to Swift and Orwell. During this unit, we will also study literary criticism of these works, considering the views of the critics with regards to our own ideas regarding the works.

Assessments for this unit of study include test and quizzes on the readings, as well as two different literary analysis essays, and one opinion essay that focuses on the literary criticisms studied during this unit. The first analytical essay assigned is on the subject of the techniques of satire employed by Swift and the effectiveness of those techniques. This first essay will include a rough draft and an edited, revised final draft. For the second analytical essay students may choose the text and topic for analysis. For this essay students will only submit their final draft. In addition, there is one project assigned for which you must illustrate the theme of one of the studied texts; for this assignment, your product must be visual and use no words to express the theme.

Unit 4: Poetry Introduction (Poetry Round 1)
Approximate Time: 1 week

This first unit of poetry concentrates on the literary elements and terminology applied to poetry, and we will focus our study primarily on the poetry of the Renaissance and Restoration. Major poets studied during this unit are Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Marlowe, Raleigh, Marvell, Herrick, and Donne. In our study of these poets we will consider the features of pastoral poetry, the Cavalier poets, the metaphysical poets, and the forms of the English sonnet.

This objective of this unit is to introduce the major terminology associated with poetry analysis, and to introduce the connection between sound and sense in poetry. Therefore, the assessments in this unit target the student’s knowledge and application of the literary terms studied. This unit is assessed through reader-response to poetry and quizzes on the literary terms and their application to the poems studied. Students are asked to identify the poetic and literary devices used in a specific poem, and create an interpretation of the poem based on those devices.

Unit 5: Renaissance Drama
Approximate Time: 2 weeks

During this unit of study we focus on Elizabethan theatre, specifically Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus and William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1. In this unit we study the influences on drama, particularly other literary sources and historical influence, as well as the elements of Aristotelian Tragedy. We also examine the connections between several pieces of literature that we have already studied, such as the thematic connections between Paradise Lost and Faustus, etc. To conclude this unit of study, students will work in small groups to study a Shakespearean tragedy (Othello, Macbeth, or Hamlet) and present a lesson to the class, teaching the text and presenting critical analysis of the text as a tragedy.

The discussions of these texts centers on the protagonist and how the elements of tragedy contribute to the overall meaning of the text. In addition, we will explore the development of characters through their speeches in each play, drawing connections between their development and the theme of the play itself.

Assessments during this unit include tests on the readings, an analytical paper about Henry IV, Part 1, and two in-class writings (one on Faustus and the other on their Shakespearean tragedies), and the class teaching projects. The Shakespeare Teaching Project requires students to closely study a play and develop their own interpretation of the work, provide analysis of literary elements, and consider literary criticism of the work. In addition to presenting their findings in a clear student-led lesson, students will also share their interpretations through the in-class timed essay regarding their play and Aristotelian tragedy.

Unit 6: Romantic Poetry (Poetry Round 2)
Approximate Time: 1 ½ weeks

This unit of study is an intensive study of poetry with regards to recognizing and understanding the elements of poetry and how they work in a single poem to create theme, mood, and tone. We also focus closely on the characteristics and traits of the English Romantic movement and the major poets of this period, specifically William Wordsworth, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. With each poet we examine their works specifically with regards to the philosophies and traits of each poet, and we make connections between the poets in terms of ideas and influences.

This unit is assessed through analytical essay and reader-response to poetry. The analytical essay asks students to consider the impact of poetic elements on the theme of a poem(s) and how the elements connect to the traits of Romanticism that are present in the selected poem(s); students may choose the poem(s) for their essay from a short list, including Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Mont Blanc, Tintern Abbey, and Manfred. This essay will include both a rough draft and an edited, revised final draft. Students are also asked to identify and interpret one poem and create a visual interpretation based on their analysis of the poetic devices and elements employed by the poet.

Unit 7: The Gothic Novel and Drama
Approximate Time: 2 weeks

During this unit of study we examine the rise of the gothic pattern and the influence of literary movements such as Romantic poetry and Neo-Classical literature on the gothic novel and drama. The novel studied during this unit is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the gothic drama studied during this unit is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We will examine the elements of the gothic pattern and how the elements contribute to theme of these pieces. In addition, we will discuss the influence of the Romantic period, as well as other context-related factors, on Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde.

Students will be assessed through a comparative paper in which they connect Frankenstein or Jekyll and Hyde to another work of their choice (this text may be one studied during this course, a previous course, or independent reading). For this essay, students will only submit their final essay.

Unit 8: The Modern Novel
Approximate Time: 2 weeks

This unit of study is centered on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. This unit focuses on the craft of the novella to convey a singular theme through the use of symbol and motif. Throughout study of Heart of Darkness we will analyze the doppelganger characters of Kurtz and Marlow, as well as the psychological aspects of Conrad’s work. We will make literary connections to other works such as T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” and Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now. Throughout the study of Mrs. Dalloway, we will analyze the use of stream of consciousness narrative, which is a form of interior monologue or a way of hearing what the characters in a piece of fiction are thinking. We will also make literary connections to other works, such as T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and James Joyce’s Eveline.

During this final novel unit, students are expected to make connections between this text and several other works that we have studied during the year. These connections can be made on numerous levels, such as character development, themes, motifs, symbolism, and usage of other literary devices. Assessments in this unit include a formal test on the novel, and an in-depth study of the many symbols and motifs used throughout the text itself. Students will prepare a written component and a creative component to illustrate the symbols and motifs that they have selected, demonstrating their understanding of the use of the symbols/motifs and their impact on the overall meaning of the text. Students will only submit their final essay for this assignment.

Unit 9: Modern Voices (Poetry Round 3)
Approximate Time: 2 weeks

This final unit of study examines the voices of modern poets and writers of short prose fiction, and it provides a last review of poetry and short story for students prior to the AP exam. This unit will examine the works of Victorian and Modern British writers, and will emphasize writers use literary and poetic devices to convey their themes through their works. Poets studied during this unit include Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Robert Browning; Matthew Arnold; Christina Rossetti; Gerard Manley Hopkins; W. B. Yeats; W. H. Auden; and Dylan Thomas. Other writers that we will study in the context of our review of short fiction include D. H. Lawrence, Katharine Mansfield, and James Joyce.

Because students have had significant exposure to short prose fiction prior to their senior English course, we will refresh their interpretive and analytical skill with short story, and review the concepts that they are expected to understand and apply for the AP exam.

This unit of study is primarily assessed through discussion and student presentation. During this unit of study, students are working on AP test review materials for homework, as well as part of our daily class in this last push to the AP exam in May.

The Texts Studied
The required text for this class is The Norton Anthology of English Literature, the Major Authors, 8th edition [Abrams, M. H. & Greenblatt, S. (Eds.). (2006). The Norton Anthology of English Literature, the Major Authors, 8th edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.] Students are encouraged to purchase their textbook at cost; by purchasing the text, students are able to practice text notation, a critical skill for college literature courses.

We will also draw from the following texts:

· Literature: An Introduction to Critical Reading [Jacobus, L. A. (1996). Literature: An Introduction to Critical Reading. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.]
· Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 6th edition [Perrine, L. & Arp, T. R. (1993). Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 6th edition. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.]

We will read the following major works:

· Beowulf*
· The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
· Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe
· Othello / Hamlet / Macbeth, William Shakespeare
· Henry, IV Part 1, William Shakespeare
· Paradise Lost, John Milton
· Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathon Swift
· Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
· Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
· Great Expectations, Charles Dickens*
· The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde
· Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
· Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
· 1984, George Orwell
* denotes summer reading titles

The readings for this AP course draws predominantly from British writers. Students enter the class with extensive exposure to American writers, as their 11th grade literature course is centered exclusively on the American literary tradition. Upon completion of 11th grade, students will have read works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Arthur Miller, as well as works representative of the major poets and short fiction writers of American literature.

Grading Policy
Grades are based primarily on tests, essays, projects, and class participation. If you are unprepared with your reading, you will find it difficult to contribute to class in a meaningful way. All essays, exams, and projects are worth a minimum of 100 points each.

In accordance with the School District Grading Policy grades are calculated as follows:

The following factors will be used as guidelines in determining level of achievement:

(10%) ProcessFormative evaluation of student work used for the purpose of providing feedback to the student and teacher regarding progress toward standards. This may include but is not limited to: homework, class work, participation, quizzes, summer reading, writing process, lab participation
(90%) ProductSummative assessment used to measure the degree to which a standard has been attained. This may include but is not limited to: tests, essays, major papers, and rubric scored presentations.

The final course grade is calculated in accordance with District policy: each marking period accounts for 20% of the final course grade, and the midterm and final exams each count for 10% of the final course grade. The midterm exam covers all literature, concepts and skills taught during the fall semester; the final exam covers all literature, concepts and skills taught in the spring semester.