AP Lit

Welcome to AP® English Literature and Composition!  Congratulations on choosing the intellectually stimulating and rigorous path for your senior year.   I look forward to working with each of you and learning with and from you this year.  This course assumes: “students choosing AP English Literature and Composition [are] interested in studying literature of various periods and genres and using this wide reading knowledge in discussions of literary topics.” (The College Board), and I applaud your commitment and willingness to sink your teeth into the great works of literature.

This course addresses the big questions that great works of literature and art explore.  We delve into the wider contexts in which literature exists, investigating the context of culture, music, science, and art in which a work was created as well as the reciprocal influence these forms have on each other.  Through the reading, discussing, and writing, or what I view as playing with these texts, your mind will be churning with ideas that you are eager to explore further in your compositions.  My aim is to move further along in your path of being a critical and mindful reader and writer.

Essential Questions for the Course

  • What is literature? What power is there in literature?
  • How does literature give us insight into the shared human experience? How does reading literature shape and provide insight in our own identity?
  • How can the act of close reading enable open up a text’s various themes, literary style, and contribution to the art of literature?
  • What writing skills and practice are necessary to communicate effectively?

Reading, Reading, Reading!

This course is centered on reading.  It is essential that you read every assignment with care and on time. As we read, we examine how style, structure, and literary devices contribute to a work’s theme and literary merit, and therefore close reading is essential.  You should find yourself re-reading material (passages, chapters, and entire poems) as you continue to reshape and refine your ideas.  When reading poetry, it is essential that you read the poems multiple times.  The texts we read should inspire you to read them again, so this should be a pleasurable pursuit rather than torture.  When preparing for class, you should plan your schedule with the understanding that approximately 30-40 pages per night is the norm.

Composing, Composing, Composing!

Writing and composition in this course is an extension of the reading experience and a pathway to clarify your own thoughts, positions, and analyses of a text.   While the focus is on analytical composition, there are some opportunities for other modes of writing, but it is not the focus of the course.  We use shorter writing responses to further engage with the texts and generate ideas/topics for your in-class, timed writing responses and compositions.   Since feedback is critical to the writing process, you will work with the feedback you receive on writing responses and drafts of your essays to help you further refine and clarify your ideas and writing.  Conferences with peers, the Writing Center, and with me are also a vital part of the course.

Texts & Units I’m Thinking for the Year

*subject to change

Semester 1

Student choice: Great Expectations, Charles Dickens OR Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Student choice: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison; Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides; The Sympathizer, Viet Tanh Nguyen; Swing Time, Zadie Smith

Semester 2

Living Poets and Poetry Study (various)

Shakespeare play(s) TBD

One of the following units:

Tales of Love and Marriage: The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer; The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare; Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Modernist Literature: Dubliners, James Joyce; Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf; A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf; The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot

Contemporary Literature: The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead; Homegoing, Yaa  Gyasi; Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng


Reading and annotation journals
AP analytical responses (in and out of class)
Reflective responses
Presentations and multimodal compositions
Research Assignment
Analytical, Thesis-driven Essays

Classroom Policies

As seniors, I expect that you act as the mature, young adults you are.  You should be at the pinnacle of maturity and come to class ready to work, participate, and think every day.  If you follow the basic principle of respect –  RESPECT the class, the teacher, and yourself – then you are meeting expectations.

We’ll be using the Learning Rubric to assess your learning against the course outcomes together. In the coming days, we’ll define how the learning rubric works and what it looks like in the AP Literature classroom, defining it for our use.  The expectation is that you are making use of materials and feedback to assist your growth in your own learning as related to your cognitive/academic engagement and your personal/behavioral engagement.  In addition to my feedback on your performance, you will also self-assess.  Your grade will be a combination of assignments (some may be self-selected), reflections and observations of your learning.

Grade Setup

Semester Grading

Q1=40%                         Exam: 15%

Q2=45% (Portfolio)


Q4=55% (Portfolio)

Academic Honesty

I expect that all writing is from your point of view and in your unique voice.  I want to hear what you have to say. If you submit work that is partially or wholly not your own, you fail to demonstrate your own learning. Administration will be notified.  This is a zero tolerance policy.

  • If you find that you’re behind in your work, communicate with me and let’s make a plan.
  • If you find that the assignment is difficult or you do not understand the concepts or the assignment, communicate with me and let’s make a plan.
  • If you’re not sure how to cite something, let’s work on it.
  • I’m here to help you with your writing and learning.
  • There is no reason to submit work that is partially or wholly not your own.

The AP Exam

In order to earn advanced placement credit for this course, you will need to take the AP English Literature and Composition Exam on in May. Depending on the college or university you attend, many honor a high score on the exam by allowing you to skip introductory classes or earn college credit.

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