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) By electing (yes, there is a choice) to take this course, you are committing to sinking your teeth into the great works of literature with meaty discussions and lots of exploratory and critical writing.

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.  Our aim is to move further along in your path of being a critical and mindful reader and writer.  It should be noted and to quote Mr. McAteer, “While this course is designed to prepare you for the AP English Literature and Composition exam in May, your success should be the necessary outcome of your engagement and enjoyment of the course as a whole.”

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?

In addition, each unit is based around essential questions that we explore through central and supplementary texts.  With each unit there are multiple opportunities for discussion and exploratory writing to help the writing process for your literary analysis.

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.

Writing, Writing, Writing!

Writing in this course is an extension of the reading experience and your pathway to clarifying your thoughts, positions, and analyses of a text.   While the focus is on analytical writing, there are some opportunities for other modes of writing, which will help you further think about the text we are investigating.  In addition, we use informal writing responses in your reading journal or on our blog to further engage with the texts and generate ideas/topics for your in-class, timed writing responses and formal, critical essays.   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 and with me are also a vital part of the course.


Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Student choice:
   Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
   Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
   The Sympathizer, Viet Tanh Nguyen
   Swing Time, Zadie Smith
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
The Taming of the Shrew and other plays by William Shakespeare
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Dubliners, James Joyce
Mrs Dalloway and A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot


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.

Here are a few basic guidelines:

  • Show up to class every day prepared to think and actively participate.
  • Technology is a part of our everyday lives, and we will use your devices during class. However, when not in use as part of instruction, put them away.  A warning will be issued for any off task behavior.  If the behavior persists, I may take the device.  Please refer to the student handbook regarding the school’s policy.
  • Class starts when the bell rings. If the bell rings and I have started class, it is considered a tardy and will be recorded as such.  Be on time.  Don’t accumulate unnecessary unexcused absences.  It is up to you to keep track of your absence points.
  • Bathroom, drinks of water, and other sometimes necessary breaks: Take them if you absolutely must, but figure out when the most appropriate time is to step out of the class for a minute.
  • Late work- I do not assign busy work. Your homework, classwork, and other assignments are a necessary component of the class for YOUR understanding of the material. Therefore, work is due when it is due.
  • For some assignments late work is accepted with the following penalties: 5% turned in after deadline but by the end of the same day; 10% turned in the following day; 20% turned in the second day; 30% turned in the third day, and no late work accepted after the third day.
  • Attendance is essential to success. Therefore, if you know you are not going to be in class ahead of time, especially due to college visits or Model UN and other field trips, it is essential that you email me in advance.  You are still responsible for the work due and completed in class that day.  “I was out” is not an acceptable excuse unless there are extenuating circumstances or other arrangements were made ahead of time.  If you are absent and missed an in-class assessment, expect to make it up the day you return to school.


Your grade is based on the scores of your assessments, including reading journals, essays, writing assignments, and various other assignments during the quarter.  All grades are out of 100 and are assigned a weight depending upon the nature of the assignment.

Weights range from 1 to 5:

≤ 1 = homework checks, short classroom assignments

2 = quizzes, longer homework, discussions, short responses

3 = tests, long writing responses, journal assessments, class participation

4-5 = formal papers, unit tests, major projects

Semester Grading
Exam: 15%

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 will receive a grade of 0 for the assignment with no opportunity to make up the assignment. Administration will also be notified.  This is a zero tolerance policy.

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. The format of the test is below. Additional information can be found on The College Board website.