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Course Description

This course aims to further develop reading, writing, and critical analysis skills as you actively examine literature, literary criticism, or the many questions posed by a text. A central theme that you should think about throughout your readings is: what makes art great? On the surface, it may not be an important question, but when you consider the lasting impact of literature that changed the world, from the Magna Carta to the famous documents of American democracy to the books that land on national reading lists – we know that writing can have impact. On a personal level, even the most innocuous note from a loved one, written in just the right tone, or with impeccable skill, can make the difference between trusting someone or not. The well-turned phrase or aesthetic components of a resume can get an employer’s attention, or not. So what makes the art of literature great? What makes “literature”? What makes it last? How do we decide who or what deserves our attention as we read? Once we eliminate any sensationalist or trending effects behind a work, why do writers’ works sometimes fail while others surpass an author’s expectations? How can you make your own stories or essays better? How do you convince an audience that they’ve got to read something – that it’s worth their time?

In this class, we will focus on critical analysis of short stories, novels, drama, poetry, or essays on a variety of topics. You will be required to keep a timely reading response journal (both electronic and in print) of readings in which you will answer assigned prompts. These prompts will challenge you to develop a deeper reading of the texts and explore both your personal and scholarly viewpoints on the subjects discussed. They require tasks which will aid in developing your writing skills. At all times, be prepared to discuss any reading or reading response in a full class or small group setting; prepare to constructively evaluate and discuss peer comments.

Participation in discussion is one of the most important elements of this course. Do not assume that lack of discussion will help your AP score. Students learn best through active thinking. Expect class discussion to not always be traditional; it may include triad debates, student-designed questions, five-minute informal writing, collaborative-learning groups, think-pair-share, or whole class dialogues responding to such things like thematic audio-visuals or a gallery walk with student writing displays.

AP English Literature and Composition (aka AP Lit.) emulates college coursework and will challenge you. Take it seriously. Senioritis is not a joke in this class. And colleges, especially the popular ones or the most competitive colleges, have been known to revoke a college acceptance if a student’s GPA drops dramatically in the last report card.
Class Texts
1) Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound, & Sense (anthology). Ed. Greg Johnson and Thomas R. Arp
2) Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
3) Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande w/context reading re: border controversy
4) Hamlet by William Shakespeare w/occasional poetry from Emily Dickinson and others
5) Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare in conjunction with Shakespeare’s sonnets
6) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Accompanying text focus: women’s rights
7) The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
8) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, w/occasional poetry, songs, music – esp. from the Harlem Renaissance, ex. Langston Hugh’s “Harlem” (Dream Deferred) and “I, Too” (cf. Walt Whitman’s “I too Sing America”); for thematic comparison, ex.: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” – power & control theme
9) Shorter texts: short stories, essays, and poetry (fiction/non-fiction, mostly 20th/21st century)
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