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AP English Literature and Composition   

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Robin Wyatt

Syllabus AP Literature and Composition, Approved by the College Board



The teacher reserves the right to modify syllabus as needed and exchange some literary works for others of the same literary merit.
This is just a rough guide for this year!  I am changing some of the texts. 



The AP English Literature and Composition course is designed to engage students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature, and is designed to comply with the curricular requirements described in the most recent AP English Course Description. Through the close reading of selected texts, students can deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students should consider a work’s structure, style, and themes, as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone. The course will include intensive study of representative works of recognized literary merit from American, British, and World authors written from Beowulf through the twentieth centuries.


As this is meant to be a college-level course, the literature is meant to challenge not only students’ perceptions of themselves as readers and writers, but to challenge their perceptions of the world surrounding them. Writing is an integral part of the AP English Literature and Composition course, as the AP examination is weighted toward student writing about literature. Writing assignments should focus on the critical analysis of literature and should include expository, analytical, argumentative essays. Students are expected (but not required) to take the AP English Literature and Composition test, for which they pay their own test fees. AP English Literature and Composition is also intended to support the skills necessary for the creation and development of the Kentucky Writing Portfolio.



Students will:

1.     Demonstrate a wide-ranging vocabulary used with denotative accuracy and connotative resourcefulness;

2.     Write using a variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordinate and coordinate constructions;

3.     Organize writing logically, using such specific techniques of coherence as repetition, transitions, and emphasis to enhance the organization of the writing;

4.     Construct argumentative literary analyses that strikes a balance between generalization and the use of specific, illustrative details;

5.     Demonstrate an effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, maintaining a consistent voice, and achieving emphasis through interpretive thesis statements, parallelism and antithesis;

6.     Read closely, 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;

7.     Reflect on how literary meaning is shaped by social and historical contexts;

8.     Make and record careful observations of textual detail;

9.     Establish connections between different observations;

10.  Draw from those connections a series of inferences leading to an interpretive    
conclusion about a literary work’s meaning and value;

11.  Gain awareness that the English language has changed dramatically through history and exists today in many national and local varieties;

12.  Recognize, interpret, and evaluate the use of literary and rhetorical devices in literature;

13.  Recognize, interpret, and evaluate how the author constructs theme through narrative techniques, resources of language, and literary and rhetorical devices;

14.  Write and revise timed essays written in response to specific prompts dealing with short or excerpted works of poetry and prose;

15.  Write and revise timed essays written in response to prompts demanding intricate, detailed knowledge of a variety of works of recognized literary merit.




Weekly Poetry Responses


Each week students will write a poetry response.  These are personal responses to a set of poems that I will give students every trimester.  Usually a set of poems consists of approximately twenty to thirty poems, and students choose one poem from the set to respond to each week.  Sometimes I might select poems around a theme we are discussing or a holiday season.

The response is open and flexible.  Students may write an analysis of the poem and the elements of the poem or an explication of what the poem means.  They may also write how the poem makes them feel or of a memory, the poem evokes.

The weekly poetry responses will increase several writing traits including fluency and voice and lead to a closer reading and deeper understanding of poems when the Poetry Unit begins. 


Weekly Vocabulary Quizzes As Needed

Weekly vocabulary quizzes have the following objectives:

        • Improve vocabulary knowledge and competence.

        • Improve sentence fluency, sentence variety, and grammatical conventions.


Brush Ups

When students arrive in class, at least 3 days per week there will be a sentence on the board that needs to be revised, combined, or imitated.  Students should begin on this immediately, and finish copying sentences within the first 5 minutes of class.  We will discuss these sentences, and address the specific techniques to create sentences that are more effective by using parallelism, sentence combining, a variety of sentence structures, and mechanical techniques. 

We will also do sections from Voice Lessons, which are exercises on tone, style and syntax. 

After reading essays, a specific problem may be discussed on these days.  This time will also be used for addressing proper MLA citation techniques.  Students may be given exercise from Perdue’s Online Writing Lab, and various grammar texts. 


Timed Writing  - 2-5 per trimester


The AP exam format will be used including the 40-minute period.  These essays are actual questions from previous AP exams and will assess the knowledge and understanding of the text. The AP rubric will be used to score these writings.


Out of Class Writing  – minimum of 2 papers per trimester


These writings include, but are not limited to, creative pieces, analytical essays, reaction papers and research papers.  These papers will follow the entire writing process.  On the day the papers are due, the students will hold writing workshops in order to revise papers one final time before they are graded.  The AP Rubric or the Kentucky Writing Rubric will be used to access these papers. 


Practice Multiple Choice AP Questions – 2-3 per trimester


Students will practice close reading of a selection and answering multiple-choice questions from the released tests.  As much as possible these will correspond to the unit we are studying in class, and will cover tone, syntax, figurative language, and other rhetorical devices.






1st Trimester       


1-3 Weeks Introduction, Student Choice Novel, College Essay

College Essay – Personal narrative

  • Explanation of the personal narrative with samples
  • Writing Workshop revising for organization, support thesis statement, topic sentences, and transitions

Student Choice Novel from Summer Reading

Reader Response Sheets

Literary Terms

Major Works Data Sheet

Connection Paper

Annotative Bibliography* major paper grade




Anglo-Saxon Culture

In class essay #2 from AP

Essay on Beowulf –close reading of a passage, interpreting the social and historical values.

Creative Boast essay

Hyperbole, Kennings, Alliteration


SHORT FICTION Unit (4 weeks)

·         Analytical Focus: various literary elements, as applicable

·         Thematic Focus: various themes

·         Essay: Compare/Contrast


Selection of stories from Perinne’s including sample essays and writing topics.


“The Rocking Horse Winner”

  • Symbol and theme

“The Destructors”

  • Setting, characterization, symbol, theme

“A Worn Path”

  • Setting, characterization, theme, motivation, diction, narrative pace

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

  • Introduction to O’Connor,  listening for voice, theme

“The Yellow Wallpaper”

  • Characterization, symbol, theme

For each story the students will complete a Short Story Analysis Sheet, and respond to the story in a journal type entry.  Students will discuss stories using Inner and Outer Circles, and group discussions.

Additional Focus:

Close reading of a passage

Compare and Contrast Essay

Discussion of “Chunks” (claim, evidence, and commentary) and what is meant by literary analysis

In class essay #1 1994

Diction, imagery, narrative pace, point of view=drama

This essay is not graded, and will be used to work through the process of the essay.  Students will read other essays and compare their essays.




Student choice from AP List of Open Response

“How and Why to Annotate a Book” by Nick Otten

Reader response journals

Notice and Log Stylistic Details such as point of view, tone, diction, syntax, narrative pace, humor, satire, figurative language, imagery, irony, selection of detail, and many more. 

2 practice prose multiple choice timed tests




• Study the General Prologue, The Pardoner's Tale (on video), The Knight's TaleThe Miller's Tale The Reeve's Tale.


• All students memorize & recite the first 18 lines of the GP in Middle English to understand a bit of what English used to be.


• Analytical Focus: Structure, diction, symbolism, imagery


• Thematic Focus: chivalric values, love, human idealism


• Assignment: study guide


• Essay (2): Setting


• Critical Essay Analysis #1 on Canterbury Tales with a partner




2nd Trimester


The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare– 3 Weeks

a) Study includes the great chain of being; Shakespeare’s language, form, and

function of tragedy

b) Essay test/timed write using 1993 and 1994 question #3 from AP English

Literature and Composition Exams.

c) Literary analysis paper—formal, persuasive essay evaluating Hamlet based

on one or more of the essay topics. 


Shakespeare King Lear or Macbeth 3 Weeks



Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 3 Weeks

Students will take material from their double entry journals dealing

with central themes in Frankenstein, and use the material to

develop an interpretive essay based on a central theme in the novel.

Students may select a theme of their own, granted it is approved by

the instructor, or they may select one of these two themes: the tension

between individualism and social acceptance; or the tension between

technology and human aspiration.


Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner John Keats

Actively read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner—Think about the

connection between Coleridge’s poem and Shelley’s novel.

• Speculative writing about the connection between Frankenstein and The

Rime of the Ancient Mariner.


Winter Break Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 3 Weeks


Complete “As You Read” guide, and develop a list of possible essay topics. 


3rd Trimester

POETRY – 4 Weeks


Various chapters and selections from Structure Sound and Sense, Perrine


Analytical Focus: elements of poetry


 Thematic Focus: varies with poem


Poetry terms test


Essay (8): Death of a Toad or Author to her Book


A DOLL HOUSE by Henrick Ibsen 2 weeks


 Analytical Focus: Character, Irony, Point of View


 Thematic Focus: Women's Rights


 Assignment: study guide


 Critical Essay Analysis #2: individual


Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad 5 Weeks

Complete “As You Read” journal

Literary Analysis Student choice on one of 15 essay topics

Writing Workshop and Revisions of papers

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Compare and Contrast Essay



The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams 2 Weeks


Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Research paper




Poetry Review

Prose Review

Fences by August Wilson




Arp, Thomas. Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound & Sense. 8th. Boston: Heinle &

Heinle, 2002.



Beers, Kylene, et. al.  Elements of Literature:  Sixth Course.  Austin:  Holt, Rinehart

   and Winston, Inc., 2007.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Sophie’s World by by Jostein Gaarder

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley



Perdue’s Online Writing Lab



Course Work Percent of Final Grade

In-class writings, discussion, and activities                          33%

Out-of-class writings and other assignments                        33%

Completion of other class requirements (ex., reading

the material; Grammar Brush Ups; Poetry Responses           33%


Numerical Average Letter Grade

90-100         A

80-89                    B

70-79                    C

60-69                    D

Below 60      F

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