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Ap english Literature and Composition

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AP English Literature and Composition


This course is built on the notion that literature is greater than the sum of its parts but that knowing both the parts and the sum is crucial. Students of literature need to be conversant in the terms specific to its genres; they need to know something about the various critical approaches to literature; and they

need to be familiar with the significant works of Western culture.
The course will focus on the following broad, interconnected themes, addressed in approximately quarter-length units.
Course Units
Unit One: Who am I? The Search for Identity; Perception in Personal and Literary Contexts
The question every human faces is that of identity: self-definition encompassing values, interests, dreams, and perceptions. One vehicle facilitating the search for identity is literature. Authors experiment with point of view, style, and tone: elements in the quest for identity of characters within and readers without. How to approach a text--how to discuss it, how to evaluate it, how to use it--are issues for any readers hoping to know both the text and themselves.
Essential questions:
•Who and what gives us our identity?

•What happens when identities collide?

•What corollary is there between multiple critical lenses and our self/ourselves?

•What role does language play in shaping and/or revealing identity?

Major Texts:
X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia,. An Introduction to Poetry (Longman, 2002).

This text will be used throughout the course.

Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man (2nd Vintage International, 1995)

Jamaica Kincaid, "On Seeing England for the First Time"

Flannery O'Connor. "Good Country People"

Don DeLillo. White Noise (Penguin, 1985)

Franz Kafka. Metamorphosis (Bantam Classics, 2004)
Additional poems, short stories, essays


Independent Reading Options (one text is required each semester; you should read one book from this list or the second quarter IRA list by the end of the semester.)
Sherman Alexie. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice

Russell Banks. Rule of the Bone

John Barth. Giles Goat-Boy

T. C. Boyle. World's End

Willa Cather. My Antonia

Michael Chabron. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep

J. M. Coetzee. The Life and Times of Michael K.

Robertson Davies. What's Bred in the Bone

Phillip K. Dick. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Michael Dorris. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water

William Faulkner. Light in August; Sanctuary

Richard Ford. The Sportswriter

Thomas Hardy. Jude the Obscure

Robert Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land

Henrik Ibsen. A Doll's House

Kazuo Ishiguro. The Remains of the Day

Henry James. The Portrait of a Lady

Gish Jen. Typical American

Charles Johnson. Middle Passage

Milan Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Nella Larsen. Passing

Jay McInerney. Bright Lights, Big City

Rick Moody. The Ice Storm

Toni Morrison. Sula; Tar Baby

V. S. Naipaul. Miguel Street

Gloria Naylor. The Women of Brewster Place

Flannery O'Connor. Wise Blood

Kenzaburo Oe. The Silent Cry

Annie Proulx. The Shipping News

Thomas Pynchon. The Crying of Lot 49

Richard Rodriguez. Hunger of Memory

Phillip Roth, The Human Stain

Salaman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

Amy Tan. The Joy Luck Club

John Updike, Rabbit, Run

Wallace, David Foster. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Unit Two: What is Truth? Narrative Traditions; Illusion and Reality
"Truth" includes both metaphysical and narrative dimensions. How to live an authentic life is the central metaphysical concern; how to read a narrative in which past/present/future merge, in which retellings of the same event occur, in which ambiguity reigns supreme, are its narrative concerns. Additionally, language can be used to hide truth as well as to illuminate it.
Essential Questions:
•What is truth? Is it absolute or relative?

•What is the relationship between language and truth?

•How willing are we to embrace truth?

•What if a "truth" impels us to violate an essential element of our self-concept?

•Do texts present truths or undermine them?
Major Texts:
Plato. "Allegory of the Cave"

Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale (Ballantine Books, 1985)

William Faulkner. As I Lay Dying Vintage International, 1990)

William Shakespeare. Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library, 1992)

Additional poems, short stories, essays

Independent Reading Options
Margaret Atwood. The Blind Assassin

John Barth. The Sot-Weed Factor

Italo Calvino. Invisible Cities; If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

Truman Capote. In Cold Blood

Coover, Robert. The Universal Baseball Association , J. Henry Waugh, Prop.

Don DeLillo. Libra

E.L. Doctorow. Ragtime

William Faulkner. Absalom, Absalom; The Sound and the Fury

Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude; A Chronicle of a Death


Herman Melville. Benito Cereno

Kazuo Ishiguro. An Artist of the Floating World

Mario Vargas Lloso. The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta

Toni Morrison. Jazz; Beloved

Joyce Carol Oates. Expensive People

Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front

Jean Toomer. Cane

Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse Five

Virginia Woolf. To the Lighthouse

Unit Three: How do we make moral choices?: The Nature of Good and Evil
Beginning at the age of six or seven, people grapple with the issues of good and evil. The conscience--the moral sense--guides people in making judgments about actions, labeling some actions good and others evil. Historically, cultures have determined what is good and what is evil, codifying some of these decisions in laws or precepts. This unit will examine situations involving moral choices. It will challenge you to examine your own moral code.

Essential Questions:
•What are good and evil? Is evil an intrinsic element of human nature?

•What happens when moral systems collide?

•What's the difference between sin and crime?

•How does narrative point of view affect the presentation of good and evil?

Major Texts:
George Orwell. "Shooting an Elephant"

Dante Aligheri. The Inferno (Mentor, 1982)

Joseph Conrad. The Heart of Darkness (New American Library, 1980)

Robert Penn Warren. All the King's Men (Harcourt Brace, 1974)

Additional poems, short stories, essays

Independent Reading Options (one text is required each semester; you should read one book from this list or the fourth quarter IRA list by the end of the semester.)
Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart

Martin Amis. Time's Arrow

Russell Banks. The Sweet Hereafter

Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre

J.M. Coetzee. Disgrace

Theodore Dreiser. Sister Carrie

Gustav Flaubert. Madame Bovary

Nadine Gordimer, July's People

Thomas Hardy. Tess of the D'Urberville

William Dean Howells. The Rise of Silas Lapham

Aldous Huxley. Brave New World

C. S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters

Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian

Herman Melville. Billy Budd

Bernhardt Schlink. The Reader

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Frankenstein

Upton Sinclair. The Jungle

Thomas Pynchon. V.

Voltaire. Candide

Tom Wolfe. The Bonfire of the Vanities

Richard Wright. Native Son
Unit Four: Finding Purpose: What is the nature of a good life?
The question all people face is how to live a meaningful existence. For some, "meaningful" means being financially secure; for others, it means adhering to family traditions and values; for still others, it means making a difference in the world by daring to challenge the status quo or by working tenaciously within the system to enact change. For the existentialists, existence imposes the burden of freedom: people have the challenge of creating their own meaning, apart from meanings prescribed for them by community, family, or country.
Essential Questions:
•What is a good life? What gives life meaning?

•What is existentialism? Is it an optimistic or pessimistic philosophy, or both?

•What does your generation see as its mission, and what do you see as yours?
Major Texts:
Joan Didion. "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream"

Joseph Heller. Catch-22 (Simon & Schuster, 1989)

Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot (Grove Press, 1954)

Hermann Hesse. Siddartha (Bantam Books, 1971)

Additional poems, short stories, essays


Independent Reading Options
James Baldwin. Go Tell It on the Mountain

Russell Banks. Affliction

T. C. Boyle. The Tortilla Curtain

Italo Calvino. The Baron in the Trees

Albert Camus. The Stranger

Charles Dickens. Great Expectations

Fyodor Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov

Henry Fielding. Tom Jones

Gustav Flaubert. Madame Bovary

Graham Greene. The Power and the Glory

Kent Haruf. Plainsong

Ernest Hemingway. The Sun Also Rises

William Dean Howells. The Rise of Silas Lapham

John Irving. A Prayer for Owen Meany

Jack Kerouac. On the Road

Milan Kundera. The Joke

Bernard Malamud. The Fixer

Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar

Walker Percy. The Moviegoer

Jose Saramago. Blindness

Jonathan Swift. Gulliver's Travels

Leo Tolstoy. Anna Karenina

Course Objectives/Policies

This course is designed, in part, to prepare you to take either the AP Literature/Composition exam. The exam emphasizes the skills of close reading and analysis of style. This course, then, will give you the opportunity to hone your skills of style analysis, make you more comfortable with poetry-- both appreciation and analysis--and give you practice in writing both at-home and in-class responses to literature.

Beyond the exigencies of AP preparation, however, the course is built on lifelong objectives. I want you to
1. learn to love literature and encounter some texts that speak to you.
2. feel more comfortable about reading, writing, and speaking.
3. know where to go to obtain information and how to organize and synthesize that information.
4. work effectively in small groups and large groups.
5. explore your moral code and value system through reading, writing, and discussing.
6. understand others, especially those of a different gender, race, or background, through the vehicles of literature and writing.
7. come to a clearer sense of your own identity and the meaning of your life

The Nitty-Gritty

1. Keyboard all drafts, if possible; the conference draft MUST be keyboarded, and that's also true for all out-of-class writing assignments.
2. Prepare your paper with a title page containing the following information:
the title of the paper, centered on the page

In the lower right-hand corner,




Paper #

In peer response sessions, we'll do quite a bit of open reading; don't attach the title page until you submit the conference draft.
3. Prepare two copies of your paper. Submit one, and prepare the other for your conference. Reread your copy of the paper before your conference and write any comments or questions that you have. You will take the lead in the conference.
4. You may request one one-day extension per semester, but the request must occur at least a day before the due date of the paper. Call me at home, if necessary (821-7911). Late conference drafts will be docked 10 points, late revisions 5 points. Missed conferences will result in a 10-point penalty. Talk to me if you have problems with a writing assignment or conference time. I am eminently approachable; I am also willing to negotiate about deadlines, tests, and the like. Talk with me!
5. Be sure to let me know at least 24 hours in advance if you plan to meet with a college representative during this class period. You must be responsible, and you must limit your absences for any reason. If you plan to visit colleges, remember that your parent must write a letter to Dr. Losos requesting that privilege prior to your making the visit. As a courtesy to your teachers, please give us advance notice as well.
6. Research presentations will begin in January; the conference draft of the research paper itself will be due in early January.
Tentative Writing Assignments:
1. College Essay
2. Thesis, Outline, and Working Bibliography for Author Project
3. Style Analysis/Close Reading (an excerpt from Invisible Man or White Noise)
4/5. Author Research Paper
6. Introduction to Author
7. Parody of The Inferno
8. AP Question--Prose
9. AP Question—Poetry
10. “Ism” Essay: Discussion of either existentialism or post-modernism as related to either Catch-22 or White Noise
You will also write a number of Quick-Writes (in class, 10-15 minute responses to literature). These are generally worth 15-20 points.
For some of your papers, I will use this scale:









The Grading Scale for AP English is the following:


97-98= A+

93-96= A

90-92= A-

88-89= B+

83-87= B

80-82= B-

78-79= C+

73-77= C

70-72= C-

68-69= D+

63-67= D

60-62= D-

0-59= F

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