Advanced Placement English
AP English Literature and Composition Syllabus
Textbook: Roberts, Edgar V and Henry E. Jacobs. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1992. Third Edition.
Course Description
As described in the AP English Literature and Composition Course Description, this course will engage students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, students will deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students will consider a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, tone, and the social and historical values it reflects and embodies.
Reading and Writing Assignments
Reading Assignments:
Literature will be the basis of our analysis, writing, and class discussions; therefore, it is crucial that all reading assignments be completed and be completed on time. For this reason, students need to be prepared for a rigorous reading load. Complicated works, including poetry, should be read more than once for understanding. Furthermore, it is not sufficient simply to read a work for its plot; while reading, careful analysis of the author’s techniques and purpose needs to occur. As a result, you will be asked to keep a reflective reading journal while reading short stories, novels, and plays. While reading poetry, you will be asked to consider the poem’s title, speaker, figurative language, tone, shifts, and theme.
In addition to works read for class discussion, you will be expected to independently read a novel outside of class each quarter. A reflective reading journal is required with each work and an essay to illustrate understanding will also be assigned.
Writing Assignments:
Several ways to improve one’s writing style are by analyzing the writings of others and through repeated practice and revision. Therefore, with each formal writing assignment, I will provide sample essays and feedback on your writing which you will then revise to improve detail, word choice, sentence variety, organization, and voice.
Types of Writing:
Writing to understand: These informal writing assignments include the reading journals described above as well as warm-up and freewriting activities frequently completed at the beginning or end of a class period.
Writing to explain: These assignments will require students to draw upon textual details to develop an extended explanation or interpretation of the meaning of a literary text. During the first semester of the course, you will complete a weekly literary analysis paper in which you will analyze an author’s use of a literary technique and explain how that technique helps to develop the author’s theme in a selected literary piece. Rewrite opportunities will be provided after conferencing with me on needed improvements. A research paper explicating a theme in one of your outside reading novels will also be completed.
Writing to evaluate: These analytical, argumentative essays will consist primarily of in-class writing assignments based on AP examination questions. However, each in-class writing will be revised following feedback from my initial grading of these pieces.
Course Work
Percent of Final Grade
Homework and Quizzes
Writing Assignments and Tests
Numerical Average
Letter Grade
90-100 %
80-89 %
70-79 %
60-69 %
Below 60
Because writing assignments are 60% of your grade, your writing ability will be the greatest determinant of your grade. If you are a B or C writer, you can expect to earn a B or a C in the class. While I give general feedback and suggestions for improvement to the entire class after each writing assignment has been graded, the best way to individually improve your writing skills is to conference with me one-on-one concerning your graded papers. If you are a B or C writer and you wish to earn a higher grade, you will need to conference with me regularly after school in order to improve your grade. Also, be forewarned; homework is not only essential to class discussions, but it could also be the factor that determines if you earn a high B or an A.
Reading and Writing Schedule
First Semester
Week 1: Introduction to the Course
How to Closely Read Literature
Analyzing Literature and Making Inductions
Organizing and Writing Thematic Essays
Practice In-class essay; Question 3 from 1999 AP exam
Week 2: The Short Story
Elements of Fiction (Setting, Character, Plot, Theme, Point of View, Style, Tone, Irony and Symbolism): Maupassant, “The Necklace”; Chopin, “Story of an Hour”
Organizing and Writing Persuasive Analytical Papers: Selecting Textual Examples and Paraphrase vs. Commentary
Week 3: The Short Story
Plot and Structure (Roberts and Jacobs, pp. 88-93): Updike, “A&P”; Welty, “Worn Path”
Organizing and Writing Expository Essays 
            Due: Revised Thematic Essay; Outside Reading Novel selected
Week 4: The Short Story
Point of View (Roberts and Jacobs, pp. 180-187): Jackson, “The Lottery”; excerpt  Kingsolver, Poisonwood Bible; Porter, “Jilting of Granny Weatherall”
Due: Point of View paragraph and Lit Analysis paper
Week 5: The Short Story
Symbolism and Allegory (Roberts and Jacobs,
pp. 322-328): Hawthorne, “Young Goodman
Brown”; Preparation for in-class persuasive
Due: Revised Lit Analysis paper
Week 6-7: The Novel
            Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
            Historical and cultural context: end of 1950s   
            and 60s challenge of conformity and power of
            government and business Biblical allusions;
            McMurphy as Christ figure
Due: Lit Analysis paper and revised Persuasive essay
Week 8: The Novel
            Making Connections: poem Knight, “Hard Rock
            Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the
            Criminal Insane”
            Preparation for in-class thematic essay
Due: Outside Reading Novel Analysis paper
Week 9: The Novel
            Handout: “The Inner Workings of Tragedy”;
            Cuckoo’s Nest: Modern Tragedy?
Due: Revised Thematic essay
Week 10: Poetry
            Meeting Poetry: an Overview (Roberts and
            Jacobs pp.519-527);
Tone: The Creation of Attitude in Poetry
 (Roberts and Jacobs pp.654-663); Roethke,
“Dolor”; Hughes, “Theme for English B”; family
poems and presentations
Due: Lit Analysis paper
Week 10: Poetry
Words: The Building Blocks of Poetry (Roberts
and Jacobs pp. 576-585); 
Robinson, “Richard Cory”; Graves, “The Naked
and the Nude” Rhythm and Meter
AIMS Testing; reading of second Outside
Reading novel
Due: Lit Analysis paper
Week 11: Poetry
Imagery: the Poem’s Link to the Senses
(Roberts and Jacobs pp.600 609); Donne, “A
Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”; Wordsworth,
“The Prelude”; Wyatt, “I Find No Peace”;
Shakespeare, “Sonnet 30”;
Prepare for in-class expository writing on “The
Due: Lit Analysis paper
Week 12: Poetry
Theme: Idea, Motif, and Meaning in Poetry
(Roberts and Jacobs pp.819-824); Larkin,
“Next, Please”; Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”;
Herring, “To Virgins to Make Much of Time”;
Browning, “My Last Duchess”; Meredith,
“Modern Love” Myth: Systems of Symbolic
Allusion in Poetry (Roberts and Jacobs pp. 795-
802); Yeats, “Leda and the Swan”; Parker,
“Penelope”; Poe, “To Helen”; H.D.,”Helen”
Due: Lit Analysis paper
Week 13: Poetry
Form: The Shape of the Poem (Roberts and
Jacobs pp. 723-738);
Ballad: Anonymous,“Barbara Allan”
Villanelle: Auden, “If I Could Tell You”
Ode: Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”
Due: Lit Analysis paper and Revised Expository essay
Week 14: Poetry
Rhetorical Figures: A Source of Depth and
Range in Poetry (Roberts and Jacobs pp. 622-            632);  Wordsworth, “London, 1802”; Dunbar,
“Douglass” Prepare for in-class
Comparison/Contrast essay
            Due: Lit Analysis paper
Week 15-16: Drama
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Social and Historical values: Patriarchy and Gender relations in Lear, comparison of modern-day reading versus reading with historical context
Style Analysis: verse vs. prose
Due:  Outside Reading Lit Analysis paper
and Revised Comparison/Contrast essay
Week 17-18: Drama
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Edmund’s Puns: Analysis of Language and
Prepare for in-class Thematic essay
Second Semester
Week 1: The Short Story
Review of Style Analysis: organization, point of
view, syntax, symbolism and  irony, diction,
imagery,  figurative language, tone, and theme
Review of Close Reading Strategies
Glaspell, “Jury of Her Peers”; Walker,
“Everyday Use”; White Cloud, “Blue
Wind Dancing”
Week 2-3: Morrison, Beloved
Historical and Cultural Background; Haper, “A Love Too Thick: Slave Mothers and Infanticide”; Morrison’s ideas of reading black writing, excerpts from Playing in the Dark:Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
Handout: Laurel, “Slave Narrative Retentions in Afircan-American Women’s Writings about Madness”
Due: Summary of Laurel article
Week 4-5: Morrison, Beloved
Sethe: Tragic hero?
Analysis Boards: plot, character, conflict,
imagery, motifs, point of view, theme
Group Presentations
Thematic Essay on Beloved
Week 6: Mini-Research Paper
Is Beloved historically accurate?
Handouts: Morrison, excerpts from “Black Matters” from Playing in the Dark:Whiteness and the Literary Imagination,Hampson, “A New History: History and Hysteria in Toni Morrison’s Beloved,” Davis, "Postmodern Blackness: Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' and the End of History”
Due: Revised Thematic essay
Week 7: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Definitions of Gender: Shakespeare’s Cross-
Dressing Characters
Handouts: Bloom, “Twelfth Night”,Cristina Malcomson, "`What you Will': Social Mobility and Gender in Twelfth Night”, Lisa Jardine, "Twins and Travesties: Gender, Dependency and Sexual Availability in Twelfth Night"
Due: Mini-Research Paper
Week 8-9: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Analysis Boards: plot, character, conflict,
imagery, motifs, point of view, theme                
Group Presentations
Poems: Shakespeare “Sonnet 30”, “Sonnet 18”,
“Sonnet 126” with gender context,                     
Thematic Essay on Twelfth Night
Week 10: Research Project
Intro to Research Project: Thematic or
Biographic topics
Computer Lab time for research
In class writing (poetry analysis): “Blackberry
Due: Revised Thematic Essay + Thesis for
Research Paper
Week 11:
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Writer’s Workshop: Improving “Blackberry
Picking” essay
In-class writing (prose analysis): “Quoyle”
Practice Multiple Choice AP questions
Due: Working Bibliography
Week 12:
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Research Skills: Embedding Quotes;
Parenthetical Citations
Writer’s Workshop: Improving “Quoyle” essay
In-class writing (poetry): “Eros”
Practice Multiple Choice AP questions
Due: Outline Research Paper
Week 13:
Writer’s Workshop: Improving “Eros” essay
In-class writing (prose): Kiss and Tell
Practice Multiple Choice AP questions
Prepare Literature Cards for Exam Review
Due: Rough Research Paper
Week 14:
Writer’s Workshop: Improving Kiss and Tell  
In-class writing (poetry): “Convergence of the
Practice Multiple Choice AP questions
Week 15:
Simlulated AP Exam: Three 40 minute essays;
55 multiple choice questions in one hour
Writer’s Workshop: After discussing rubric and
sample essays, select one paper for grading.
Week 16-18:
Conferences on research papers in progress
Final Portfolio of Revised Essays
Due: Final Research Paper
Ken Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Shakepeare, King Lear and Twelfth Night
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest