AP English Literature and Composition

Mr. David Hoffman

John Champe High School

Course Syllabus, 2013-2014


The Advanced Placement course in Literature and Composition engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, you will deepen your understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for readers. As you read, in addition to the author’s purpose, you should consider the work’s

· structure

· style

· themes

· literary elements, such as figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.

AP Literature reading necessarily builds upon the reading done in previous English courses. In this course, you will read works from several genres and periods—from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century—but, more importantly, get to know a few works of literary merit very well; the reading and dialogue in this course will ideally invite, encourage, and require rereading.

You must read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work’s complexity, to absorb its richness of meaning, and to analyze how that meaning is embodied in literary form. In addition to considering a work’s literary artistry, we will reflect on the social and historical values it reflects and embodies. Careful 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.

To ensure your success, it is imperative that you fully engage yourself in the experience, the interpretation, and the evaluation of literature:

·  Experience: the subjective dimension of reading and responding to literary works, including precritical impressions and emotional responses.

·  Interpretation: the analysis of literary works through close reading to arrive at an understanding of their multiple meanings.

·  Evaluation: both an assessment of the quality and artistic achievement of literary works and a consideration of their social and cultural values.

In your writing, you will be expected to develop and organize ideas in clear, coherent, and persuasive language with stylistic maturity. You will focus on improvement in each of these areas through multi-draft essays. We will conduct self and peer revisions and teacher conferences on these essays as you strive for improvement. You will receive specific instruction in daily lessons that address these techniques and will have daily practice through the warm-up activities. Stylistic maturity is characterized by

· a wide-ranging vocabulary with denotative accuracy and connotative resourcefulness;

· a variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of dependent and independent clauses;

· a frequent use of the active voice over passive voice;

· a logical organization enhanced by specific techniques of coherence such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis ; and

· a balance of generalization and specificity (broad conclusions and illustrative detail).

Introduction to the AP English Literature and Composition Exam

The exam is the morning of Thursday, May 8 and is available to all students. It consists of two parts to be completed in three hours.

· Part I – One hour multiple choice section – usually four or five reading passages with a total of 55 questions – Counts as 45% of your total test score

· Part II – Two-hour essay section – three essays to write: one poetry analysis, one prose analysis, and one “open” question in which you will be asked to select a significant literary work and discuss its relevant features in relation to the question provided – Counts as 55% of your total test score

Each of the three essays is scored on a scale of 0 through 9. These are then added together and mathematically combined with the multiple-choice score to come up with a final score on a scale of 1 through 5. Note: Beginning with the May 2011 AP Exam administration, total scores on the multiple-choice section will be based on the number of questions answered correctly. Points will no longer be deducted for incorrect answers, and, as always, no points will be awarded for unanswered questions.

Most colleges accept scores of 3 or above and will award you with one English literature college course credit. Check the bulletin of the university you wish to attend. A tiny percentage of schools do not accept AP scores at all, and a slightly larger percent will accept only scores of 4 or 5. Your teacher-given grade in the class has no bearing on whether or not a university will give you credit.

Course Objectives

Students will be able to

· develop accurate, perceptive reading through close study of major texts;

· acquire a fluent, precise writing style through the preparation of essays about texts;

· understand the techniques of poetry as they affect and enhance meaning in a poem;

· deliver oral reports and analytical responses with poise and clarity; and

· generate independent, thoughtful, and analytical discourse during class discussion.


Kennedy, X.J., Gioia, Dana, eds. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. New York: Longman, Inc., 1999.

Pre-course Assignment

·  actively read Jane Eyre, Native Son, or Poisonwood Bible, and

·  complete reading journals and stylistic analysis for selected novel.

Grading Policy

Students will be evaluated using the following categories: applied practice, projects/presentations, quizzes/tests, and writings. Grades will be given a point value and will be based on the Loudoun County grading scale:

A+ = 98% - 100% C+ = 77% - 79% F = 59% and lower

A = 93% - 97% C = 73% - 76%

A- = 90% - 92% C- = 70% - 72%

B+ = 87% - 89% D+ = 67% - 69%

B = 83% - 86% D = 63% - 66%

B- = 80% - 82% D- = 60% - 62%

AP Scale Grade for In-Class Essays

9 = A+ 100 5 = C+/B 79/80 1 = F 59 or lower

8 = A 93/94 4 = C 75

7 = B+ 88 3 = D+ 67-69

6 = B 84/85 2 = D 60

Assignments and Make-up Work:

In AP Literature and Composition, all assignments are expected to be turned in on time. If there is ever a problem or question with an assignment or due date, see me immediately. Don’t wait until the day the assignment is due. I will monitor your progress, but it is also imperative that you monitor your own progress, seeing me immediately if a problem arises. Furthermore:

ü  if a student is in school but not in class on a day that an assignment is due, he/she is still expected to turn in the assignment.

ü  if a student is attending a school function, he/she is expected to turn in all work before leaving.

ü  if a student is absent on the day that a major assignment is due, he/she is expected to make contact with the teacher to make arrangements for turning in the assignment. (phone or email)

It is imperative that you see me immediately if a problem arises. Ten percent of the total points for larger/extended assignments count towards submission and directions; therefore, late work will receive a deduction of ten percent.

Note: I will no longer accept late assignments one week prior to the end of the marking period. This date will be posted in our classroom and announced.

It is essential that you stay up-to-date on your work. It is your responsibility to complete make-up work in the event of an absence. For this course particularly, it is also extremely important that the work is completed prior to your next class session. You will choose a “While You Were Out” partner; please choose wisely and be a reliable partner! More information to follow. Communication with me and accountability for each and every absence is imperative for your success in this course.

Writing Conferences

For the first semester, you will write your analytical essays in two stages: rough draft and post-conference draft. We will meet one-on-one in order to go over the strengths and the weaknesses of your writing ability, content, and style. You will gain tools with which you can edit your writing. Through teacher, peer, and self, you will learn the most valuable lesson for effective and efficient writing: editing and re-editing.

For the second semester, you will write your analytical essays in class and will have one draft of your writing. At this point, you will be intensely and thoughtfully training for those AP essays!


Plagiarism is using, stealing, or passing-off the ideas or words of another as one’s own. When using someone’s ideas, one must credit the source. We will review and use proper MLA citations in our writing and will discuss ways to avoid plagiarizing. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If a student is ever confused about plagiarizing, see me immediately. Any instances of plagiarism will result in disciplinary action. When in doubt, use citations!

Course Framework

Listed below is the framework for the course along with overriding considerations and major expectations. Typically, each unit features one or more lengthy text and several shorter texts, as well as poetry selections and written assignments. Each unit culminates with a project that will require some synthesis of the pieces of study. You should also anticipate that in addition to the assignments listed below, a portion of each day’s class will focus on literary analysis of small excerpts and practice released exams, including the written and multiple-choice sections. Daily openers consist of activities where we examine the diction, detail, syntax, or imagery of noted authors. In addition to the class novels, each unit will include an optional enrichment novel that will either correlate to a work from that unit or enhance a specific skill, concept, or idea from that unit. This assignment is explained at the end of the syllabus.

The units and texts below may adjust or adapt as we work through the year; ample notice will be given to students of any changes.

Unit One: Journeys through Life

Presentations and discussions of Poisonwood Bible, Jane Eyre, and Native Son

Selected poems and short stories

Enrichment Text: Wide Sargasso Sea (Rhys)

Unit Two: Conforming Outwardly While Questioning Inwardly

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Chopin’s The Awakening

Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Selected poems and short stories

Enrichment Text: Beloved (Morrison) or The Loved One (Waugh)

Unit Three: Dark Shadows

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex

Hosseini’s The Kite Runner

Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (time permitting)

Selected poems and short stories

Enrichment Text: Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky) or The Tempest (Shakespeare)

Unit Four : Addressing the Past and Looking to the Future

Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury

Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire

Selected poems and short stories

Enrichment Text: Great Expectations (Dickens)

Unit Five: Existential Views

Camus’ The Stranger

Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (time permitting)

Selected poems and short stories

Enrichment Text: Waiting for Godot (Beckett)

Unit Six: Time and Change

Woolf’s To the Lighthouse

Selected poems and short stories

Enrichment Text: The Invisible Man (Ellison)

Enrichment Text Information and Assignments

Students may elect to actively read the enrichment text and complete the enrichment activity. These works are all of literary merit and are useful for the AP Literature and Composition test. Additionally, these activities will count as an “extra” grade that will be added to the current marking period grade.

Enrichment Text Activities:

1.  Read the Enrichment Text.

2.  Complete a Major Works Data Sheet (form and instructions available on the class webpage)

3.  Write a 500-600 word essay that addresses one of the following:

a.  comparison to another piece of literature (themes, content, style, plot, etc.)

b.  analytical discussion of work (in terms of purpose, theme, style, context, etc.)

c.  critical analysis using one literary lens or approach

***Essays must be typed, double spaced, and in MLA Format.

You may complete as many enrichment activities as you choose; however, be certain not to fall behind on required class readings and activities. To obtain additional support and resources to guide the read, please see me. These assignments may be submitted at any time. Any assignments submitted less than one week before the end of the marking period will be graded and credited to the following quarter. While texts are most appropriate to the unit they are listed with, they may be studied at any time during the year.

Additional Enrichment Texts (not listed above):

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

King Lear by William Shakespeare

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko