2011-2012 Course Syllabus and Policies & Procedures

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AP English Literature and Composition

Joe Malley — DeLand High School

2011-2012 Course Syllabus and Policies & Procedures

General Course Overview

Students enrolled in AP English Literature and Composition embark on a literary journey that will engage their critical eye and steady hand in a workshop environment in which they will explore and analyze literature in terms of theme, structure and style and literary techniques such as imagery, symbolism and tone in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama and film — from Auden to Zola. The course is designed to comply with the curricular requirements described in the AP English Course Description. One of the objectives of this course is to prepare students for the AP English Literature and Composition Exam in May.

AP English Literature and Composition is intended to offer students the rigor and relevance of a freshman-level English course in college. Students who satisfactorily complete this course will be better prepared to meet the challenges of post-secondary study. From a financial standpoint, students who perform at a high level on the AP English Literature and Composition Exam may qualify to bypass the first-year English course.

In addition to closely reading and analyzing a wide range of literature from around the world, students will hone their writing skills. Drawing on established literary theory as the basis for their research, students will learn to produce well-crafted and finely tuned analytical, argumentative and expository papers for the purpose of providing fresh insights into literature and text. More importantly, students will be granted multiple opportunities for revision based on peer editing, student models and instructor feedback.

Students will examine literary genres and periods stretching back to Greek drama and study specific works of poetry and prose in depth. Students are expected to read carefully, taking time to understand a work’s complexity, absorb its richness of meaning and evaluate how that meaning takes literary form. In addition to considering an author’s literary artistry, students will reflect in writing on the social and historical values the work reflects and embodies. Attention to both textual detail and historical context provides a foundation for interpretation, whatever critical perspectives are brought to bear on the literary works studied.

Students will learn to approach literature by applying experience (emotional response), interpretation (analysis of compound meanings) and evaluation (assessment of quality and achievement as well as a consideration of social and cultural values). Using this multi-tiered approach, students will realize the power of language that permeates literature and express that realization in their written analyses. In summary, it is expected that by becoming better (and more diligent) readers, students will become better writers.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students will:

  • Gain a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of literary analysis in order to understand the origins and development of works that are considered the foundation of the so-called “canon of literature.”

  • Enhance their reading and writing strategies so that they can manage texts that might otherwise be intellectually out of reach.

  • Stretch their imaginative ability in reaction to literature and improve their capacity to find and explain the value in literature through class discussion and writing exercises.

  • Develop methods for effective use of language such as controlling tone and establishing and maintaining voice in writing, while achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure.

  • Improve their organizational skills to increase coherence and effectively state, support and explain their claims in arguments using writing techniques such as repetition, transitions and emphasis.

  • Increase their vocabulary skills to help cope with unfamiliar and complex language in readings while boosting the sophistication of word choices in their own writings.

Literary Criticism

The heart of the analysis of literature lies in the application of accepted literary theory to text to help students understand the complexities of literature such as intentions of the author, motives of characters and machinations of plot. After class instruction and student research into literary criticism, students will examine and reflect in depth upon myriad literary theories, including:







New Criticism

New Historical








By applying multiple literary theories to the same text, students will develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the literature and research applicable literary theory on their own. For example, British novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights lend themselves to multiple theories such as Marxist and feminist theories to explain class struggles and gender motivation, respectively. Through group projects that entail close reading and communal writing, students will share their discoveries with their classmates.

Literary Engagement

In the preface to his book Reading and Writing from Literature, John Schwiebert introduces the term intertextuality, the theory that all printed and non-printed “texts” are interwoven in the same fabric of literature. Writers compose new text out of existing text that is already part of the writer’s life. In effect, intertextuality connects reading experience and the writing process. But it must begin with reading the various texts that comprise the world of literature – poetry, short fiction, novels, non-fiction, drama and film (post-exam).

The poetry study includes a review of connotation, imagery, simile and metaphor, personification, apostrophe, metonymy, symbolism and allegory, paradox, overstatement and understatement, irony, allusion, meaning and idea, tone, musical device, rhythm and meter, sound and meaning, and pattern. Both the short fiction and novel studies include point of view, characterization, dialogue, plot, conflict, theme and setting as well as all the literary devices listed in the poetry section. The non-fiction study includes a look at writers and the art of writing in the narrative structure of journalism, commentary, and literary criticism and analysis. The drama study includes the art of theater as well as dramatic and literary techniques from Sophocles and his fellow Greek dramatists through Shakespeare to modern playwrights, including a look at playwriting. The film study includes storytelling form and cinematic interpretation with clips of diverse films such as Casablanca (film as literature), Empire of the Sun (the hero’s journey) and The Truman Show (perceptions of reality). To that end, students are expected to respond to the major works we are reading. We’ll discuss annotation techniques and guidelines early in the course so that you fully understand the concept and its purpose.


Using Schwiebert’s Reading and Writing from Literature as a framework, we will read and analyze short stories, poems, non-fiction pieces, plays and novels. Titles of works are listed in a reading bank posted in the classroom. However, the instructor reserves the flexibility to substitute and/or add titles throughout the course as the need arises, time permits and interests change. We will also consult other works associated with the understanding of literature such as Writing with Style by John Trimble, Essential Literary Terms by Sharon Hamilton, Aristotle’s Poetics translated by James Hutton and Sound and Sense (eighth ed.) by Laurence Perrine and Thomas Arp.

A Workshop Approach of Cooperation and Collaboration

Classroom Environment: The AP English Literature and Composition classroom is configured as a multipurpose reading and writing lab to allow students to consult an extensive classroom library stocked with fiction and non-fiction books covering a wide range of subject matter as well as magazines covering diverse topics including world news, student press and the writing process. Because of the open exchange of ideas in a shared-learning environment, this workshop approach also prepares students for the university experience.

Cooperative Learning Communities: The foundation for instruction in this course is the Cooperative Learning Community (CLC). Early in the first quarter, students are grouped into four-member CLCs, which serve as vehicles for group work throughout the year under the close supervision of the instructor. Students and instructor (armed with current test data) create the CLCs with the understanding that both compatibility and learning ability must be considered to form stable and productive CLCs. Students with varying skills are placed in CLCs to allow growth and foster cooperation so that members can draw on each other’s strengths. Each CLC must designate a leader who keeps in close contact with the instructor during the year. CLCs are required to meet outside of class at least one hour each week. Each group member must maintain a weekly log that details CLC activities and outcomes. The instructor will review CLC logs at least twice month. CLC members work together on texts, assignments, projects and presentations. Each member is expected to monitor the success, enthusiasm and commitment of the members of their CLC, encouraging on-time completion and full-time attendance. The instructor will also provide time in class for each CLC to meet and discuss the objectives of their assigned projects. During class, the instructor provides students with information (handouts and lectures) as well as assignments, but the students work in their CLCs in all performance-based assignments.

The Writing Journal: Because this is primarily an academic writing course, you are expected to compose carefully controlled literary analyses and personal reflections of highly regarded works of literature. Therefore, every student is required to keep a writing journal, which allows students to experiment with inventive responses to readings and writing prompts. The writing journal provides a way for students to engage with texts at a subjective level. Responding to writing prompts within a set amount of time is called writing on demand. This writing exercise forces you to think on your feet. For example, students may be instructed to track the actions of the “whiskey priest” in Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory to determine how his flight fits the storytelling form of “the hero’s journey.” Once each quarter, students and instructor discuss the journals and exchange ideas for further development with the goal being a graded written assignment. During this discussion, the instructor and student determine the grade for the journal.

The Creative Journal: You are encouraged to explore your artistic side this year. To that end, you are strongly urged to keep a creative journal, which offers you the outlet for purely creative endeavors — poetry, drama, fiction, story sketches, drawings, ideas. You are encouraged to engage in the creative process to satisfy your imaginative callings. Note that the creative journal is not graded. The purpose of the creative journal is to help you to develop your own artistic “voice” over the duration of the course. As a professional writer interested in a wide range of styles and genres, your instructor is available to offer constructive feedback about your work. It is hoped that you will consider publishing polished works.

Continuous Reading and Text Preparation: To encourage students to become meticulous readers of world literature, students read initially using general guidelines to highlight literary features such as structure, theme and tone. Students then prepare an overview of the text. Before each text undergoes in-depth study in class, students return to the text, referring to their annotations as they engage in deep analysis. As students read, they are constantly considering topics for writing projects, emphasizing critical analysis of literature through analytical essays. Individual style, rhetorical control and logical argumentation serve as vital components of the writing curriculum.

During the second quarter, students write essays every other week. To meet AP English Literature and Composition course requirements, students must write four analytical essays, which undergo multiple rounds of re-writes using peer-editing and instructor feedback. These writing projects are produced independently at home and in the classroom. The instructor conducts revision sessions with individual students in the writing workshop format. Commentaries requiring full analysis of purpose, meaning, structure, language and strategy serve as a primary focus of controlled writing and close-reading instruction.

Following this instructional period, students write four reflections about analyzed poems or prose passages over a period of two weeks. Later, students begin writing commentaries on unfamiliar poems and prose passages. Beginning with a 60-minute time frame, students work toward a 40-minute time frame in which to complete the commentary. Students continue writing under the 40-minute time frame for the remainder of the course.

Quarterly Projects

Each CLC is assigned one major project requiring research, product and performance for each of the first three quarters in the following order: literary periods; archetypes; and literary criticism. Because all CLC members earn the same grade for each project, these projects require full cooperation and participation by each member to earn a high grade. Students are encouraged to discuss participation — or lack of participation — with the instructor. At the end of each quarter, your instructor will re-form each CLC to allow students to work with other classmates.

First Quarter — Literary Periods

Each CLC is assigned one of the following literary periods: Medieval, Renaissance, 17th century, 18th century, Romantic and Victorian, Modern (1900-1945) and Contemporary (1945-present). Each CLC will explore social, political and philosophical issues of their assigned period and examine reflections of these issues in the literature of the period. Members will identify major literary figures and works of the period and identify important attributes of the authors and their works. Each CLC will generate and present three products: a visual display that illustrates the period highlights; a typed, fully documented 1,000-word essay focusing on a specific aspect, feature, event or character of the period; and a 5-minute PowerPoint presentation featuring text and illustrations that support the content. Each CLC will be graded on its presentation. All of us can read, so please don’t read your PowerPoint presentation to us.

Second Quarter — Archetypes

Each CLC is assigned a set of archetypal figures and patterns in addition to a set of allusions common in Western literature. Members will identify and trace their assigned archetypes and allusions to their origins. Each CLC will generate and present three products: a visual display that illustrates the archetypal patterns and allusion; a typed, fully documented 1,000-word essay focusing on a specific archetype or allusion cluster; and a 5-minute PowerPoint presentation that examines and explains the power of archetypes. See above re: presentations. Don’t read to us!

Third Quarter — Literary Criticism

Each CLC is assigned a play or work of fiction for examination through different critical lenses. Members will explore at least four different critical approaches to the text. Each CLC will generate and present two products. One outcome is a panel discussion on which each member advocates for a critical view of the work by supporting his/her argument with a convincing body of text evidence. The second outcome is a four-panel cartoon for each critical lens with each member illustrating how a change of the critical lens affects the reader’s understanding of a single text segment selected by the group. Refer to comments above re: presentations.

Fourth Quarter — Independent Novel

Each student will select a novel or play of that meets the general criteria of “literary merit” beyond the assigned titles. Your title must be approved by your instructor. From a list of activities of varying point values, the student will select at least three activities to present the novel or play and explain its significance to the rest of the class. The purpose of this project is to expose students to more works of literary merit than can be covered during the year.

In-Class Performances

This course is designed to help students view literature as both a living and a lively art. To reinforce that concept, students will participate in individual and group performances throughout the year. Performances in poetry, drama, fiction and film will be scheduled during each quarter.


Each CLC will present an interpretive performance of two poems of the group’s choice. One work must be published before 1900, and the other work must be published after 1900. The rubric for evaluating these performances will address tone, intonation, phrasing and comprehension of the presented text. Following these performances, students will briefly discuss with the class considerations about delivery, after which the class will engage in a discussion and analysis of the student’s performance and explore alternative interpretations expressed in an oral performance.


Each CLC will select and perform a critical scene from one play. Members must memorize lines and adopt appropriate costumes and set pieces to give meaning to the scene. The rubric for evaluating these performances addresses character interpretation, motivation, appropriate and expressive line delivery, and comprehension of the presented text. Following performances, students briefly discuss with the class considerations about delivery, after which the class will engage in a discussion and analysis of the interpretation of the performance and explore possible alternative deliveries that would alter the interpretation of the text.


Each CLC will select a critical scene from one novel or short story under study. Members will adapt the prose for a staged performance, composing appropriate dialog and action based on the original text. Members will memorize lines and perform their scene using minimal appropriate costumes and set pieces to give meaning to the scene. The rubric for evaluating these performances addresses character interpretation, motivation, appropriate and expressive line delivery, dramatic interpretation and comprehension of the text. Following performances, students will briefly discuss with the class considerations that were given to decisions about delivery, after which the class will engage in a discussion and analysis of the interpretation inherent in the performance and explore possible alternative deliveries that would alter the interpretation of the text.
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