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AP Literature and Composition 2015-16

Divine Child High School

Mr. Matt Hamilton
Office Hours: M-F during 4th Hour (atrium) and 7th Hour (room 130), M,W,Th
2:30-4:00 by appt.
There must be something in books, something we cant imagine, to make a woman stay
in a burning house; there must be something there. You dont stay for nothing. Ray
Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Course Description: AP Literature and Composition functions as 1) a senior level
course in world literature, 2) a preparation course in anticipation of the AP Exam in
May, and 3) a course mirroring the rigor and expectation of a college- or university-level
course in literature and composition. During this year-long course, students will have
the opportunity to read, interpret, and evaluate seminal works of literature from a
variety of authors, periods, and places. Students will be introduced to literary criticisms
and common lenses for writing about literature. Our study of poetry will reinforce
concepts and terms from previous courses which students will use to analyze and write
about both short- and long-form poetic works. Our study of drama will involve a
consideration of early literary work as well as the significance of stage-based literature.
The bulk of the course will focus on the various purposes for literature: identifying,
questioning, and philosophizing. The course outline attempts to categorize major
genres and purposes for literature; it is easy to see that these all bleed into one
another and overlap considerably. The purpose of developing the class in this manner is
mainly to have a point of entry for each longer work and to develop a context for the
shorter works. By the end of the course, each student will be able to develop ideas and
arguments about each of the texts that complicate and further perceptions about the
established genres and purposes.
Texts (starred texts are available in Norton):
Booth, Alison and Kelly Mays. The Norton Introduction to Literature.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man.
Foster, Thomas. How To Read Literature Like a Professor. (summer reading)
Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. (summer reading)
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet.*
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.
Trumbo, Dalton. Johnny Got His Gun. (summer reading)
Independent reading book (to be determined)
Reading Pedagogy: Literature, like other art forms, is meant to be experienced,
analyzed, and shared. It is meant to be discussed and evaluated. All literature has
purpose, meaning, and aesthetic. In this course, we will be studying a range of
literatures including works from famous American and British authors, as well as
authors from various other national and cultural backgrounds. Our study will rely on
the understanding that literature has the potential to grow out of social and historical
contexts, authorial experience and commentary, imaginative and rhetorical playfulness,
and literary and cultural mythologies. Through in-class discussions as well as individual

research and analytical writing, students will practice close reading texts for ambiguity,
nuance, and complexity, based on their interpretation of structure, style, craft, and
context. Vocabulary development and reading comprehension are critical skills in this
course and will be assessed on a regular basis as part of the students grade in keeping
with our school-wide literacy goals.
Writing Pedagogy: Reading texts gives us the opportunity to experience art. Writing
about texts, on the other hand, gives us the opportunity to participate in and further the
art. In this course, students will have daily opportunities to write about literature: our
writing will include both informal creative and journaling invitations to writing, as well
as more formal, academic assignments. Essay assignments will be purposeful, in
accordance with general expectations that students are able to write about literature
based on experience, interpretation, and evaluation. The goals for developing stylistic
maturity in student writing in this course are twofold:
1. Students will practice short, timed responses in preparation for the AP Literature
and Composition exam.
Students will develop a wide-ranging vocabulary which allows for
complexity within a shorter response.
Students will practice logical organization and sequence by establishing
specific techniques for coherence and complexity.
Students will practice using rhetorical technique, such as tone, voice,
repetition, and transition to support their argument and illustrate
2. Students will practice longer, more formal analytical writing in preparation for
college-level assignments.
Students will practice researching literary criticisms, intertextual
relationships, and social and historical influence to develop a more
complex argument about a literary work.
Students will practice, in cooperation with both the instructor and
colleagues through conferencing, evaluating and revising a written work
prior to submission. The revision process will include, among content
revisions, a focus on word choice, sentence structure, and purposeful
organization in writing.
Students will develop an understanding through in-class workshopping
that good writing is the product of multiple revisions, and that a writers
best resource is a group of like-minded critical readers and writers who
are willing to critique and evaluate multiple drafts of a written work,
both before and after revisions.
Students will practice incorporating quotations and selecting specific
pieces of evidence and detail to support their argument and effectively
emphasize their original thesis.
Aesthetic Pedagogy: In keeping with pedagogical traditions in arts and literacies and
creative democracy per the influential writings of John Dewey, this course will focus on
the educational experience. This means that the course itself provides an opportunity to
work towards creative fulfillment, both in the experiencing of the texts as well as in the
creative experience of the writing that we will do. It is the instructors responsibility to
provide opportunities for engagements that cultivate this sense of creative development

and fulfillment; it is the students responsibility to respond with enthusiasm and

integrity to the invitations that are given.
Class Policies: This is a senior-level course which has the potential to override a
minimum of one semester-long course in English at the college/university level. For this
reason, participation and professional behavior is expected to reflect that of a college
1. You must be prepared for class on a daily basis, which includes being on time for
class, having any and all materials, and having read and studied the literature
assigned. Absences and tardies are extremely discouraged because of the
participatory nature of the course; if you are late or absent, it is entirely your
responsibility to make up missed work and/or obtain missed notes. The absent
work guidelines from the DCHS handbook will be followed. Late work for any
other reason will not be accepted without prior arrangement.
2. Because this course necessitates active participation and specific kinds of note
taking and manual writing, electronic devices, including cell phones, tablets, and
computers, must remain out of sight unless they are being used for research (with
3. The composition aims of this course include a focus on conferencing and revising;
thus, any formal paper may be submitted for increased credit at a maximum of
10%. You must schedule a conference with me within a week of receiving
the grade before attempting to revise. I also encourage you to meet with me
and work on revisions prior to project due dates to ensure the highest possible
grade upon initial submission.
4. Cheating, copying, and plagiarism of any sort will be handled according to the
guidelines from the DCHS handbook. Academic integrity is of utmost importance
in this upper-level course.
5. Grading: The semester grading scale from the DCHS handbook will be utilized.
Assignments in this course will be weighted as follows (per quarter):
o Summer Reading Test: 10% (will be absorbed into tests, etc.
during 2nd quarter)
o Tests, Formal Essays, Projects: 40%
o Quizzes and Impromptus: 15%
o Homework: 15%
o Participation: 20%
Overview of Major Assignments:
1. Informal writing: Students will frequently be asked to write for the purposes of
critical reading, reflection, and discussion. This writing will often be short,
personal, and low-stakes. Students will have the opportunity to write and
compose creatively during group readings and in preparation for in-class
discussions. This type of writing is meant to develop a level of comfort and ease
with which students can approach writing; it is also an opportunity for students to
think through writing.
2. Vocabulary: The necessity of a strong vocabulary, both in professional studies as
well as on the AP Exam, cannot be understated. Students will develop a
vocabulary in this course which prepares them for professional and academic
conversation, as well as for understanding and responding to questions and
prompts on the AP Exam. To this end, we will have bi-weekly vocabulary quizzes
for credit.

3. Practice tests: As one of the goals of this course aims to prepare students for the
AP Exam in English Literature, we will look at practice multiple choice test at a
minimum of once every two weeks. This will be in exercise not only in test prep,
but in interpretation, analysis, and application as we will discuss the literature as
a group before discussing the questions and appropriate responses.
4. Impromptu Essays: Students will practiced writing short, timed essays in
preparation for the three extended-responses questions that will appear on the AP
Exam. In order to mirror the exam, these essays will rely on students working
with an unfamiliar selection and/or prompt within a set time frame. Impromptu
essays will cover a variety of topics, including interpretation based on the
observation and analysis of specific textual details that contribute to figurative
language, imagery, symbolism, and tone, as well as observation and analysis of
details that address structure, style, and theme. These essays will be scored
according to the AP rubrics and grading scale.
5. Formal Essays: Students will be assigned a minimum of one formal, take-home
essay for each quarter. Where the AP practice essays will assess students ability
to respond to a prompt within a specified time frame, these longer essays will
gives students an opportunity to develop a complex thesis about a literary work or
works and work towards proving the thesis through research and discussion.
These assignments will often include a research component to build a context for
argument; they will also require drafting and in-class workshopping. These essays
will require that students develop an extended interpretation of a specific literary
text (a novel) wherein students craft an argument about the theme of a work
based on specific textual details. These longer, expository essays will be scored
according to a holistic rubric modeled after AP rubrics, but often including
additional requirements.
6. Author Studies: During our intensive poetry unit, students will participate in
concentrated author studies projects. These group presentations will allow
students to see an authors work develop over time and to place specific works in
significant authorial, social, cultural, and historical contexts in order to gain a
deeper understanding of the connection between work and text. A component of
this project will be the opportunity to make judgments about how we position new
work in a specific tradition, either based on social/historical/cultural contexts or
based on authorial background. As an individual contribution to the larger group
project, students will write a shorter argumentative piece which places a specific
work in the larger context of their authors work based on specific values and
7. Literary Merit Assignment: Our course will feature several large group
discussions about the meaning of the term literary merit, as used on the AP
Exam. Students will have the opportunity to prepare a formal essay and
presentation which analyzes a work of literature and, through a consideration of
textual detail, makes an argument about the works artistry and quality in terms
of the guidelines that we establish in class.
8. Independent Reading Final Project: To culminate our studies in this course,
students will be choosing an independent reading book that in some way
complicates many of the ideas and theories that we work with throughout the
year. Students will read their novel of choice and complete a multi-genre
research-based project which synthesizes their knowledge and experience with
analysis through a variety of lenses and contexts. This project will be intensive
and self-directed, and will include an audiovisual presentation component, with
potential for community engagement as well.

Course Outline: The nature of this course is such that reading and writing must be
both broad and deep. The AP Exam requires in-depth knowledge of poetry, short fiction,
and novels, from antiquity to modernity and from as many countries and cultures as
possible. Because of this, this course cannot follow a chronological or even structural
outline; rather, the course will be organized largely according to theme. Only in our first
unit will we attempt to define according to genre and stylein subsequent units we will
use content, purpose, and theory to establish a context for our group readings, and
within each unit we will read anchor texts (novels), short stories, and poetry. What
follows is a general outline of our units, the topics that will be addressed, and the texts
and authors that will support our discussions.
Unit Time
Context Theme
Semester 1 Contextualizing the literary tradition: traditions in fiction,
drama, and poetry
2 weeks Defining and contextualizing literature
Literary theory / schools of thought
Brief literary history / periods in literature
4 weeks Defining and contextualizing drama
Shakespearean drama
Greek drama
4 weeks Defining and contextualizing poetry
Poetic terminology and technique
Theme in poetry
Writing about poetry
4 weeks Defining and contextualizing the novel
Questions and purposes in literature
Intertextuality and allusion
Aesthetics, creativity and myth-making
Semester 2 Contexts and purposes for literature: considering narrative,
style, and meaning
3 weeks Specific contexts
Journeys and failures
Country and conflict
4 weeks Theoretical contexts
Education and socialization
Race, gender and labor issues
5 weeks Contemporary contexts

Anchor Texts

How To Read Literature

Like a Professor
Selections from Norton
Selections from Norton
Selections from Norton


Heart of Darkness

Invisible Man

Emerging traditions: global literature

Postmodernism and poststructuralism
Alternative texts and creative media

Independent reading
Selected excerpts