AP Lit syllabus

  • Hackensack High School

    AP English Literature and Composition

    Class Syllabus 2013-2014


    Course Instructors:


    Ms. Courtney Milewski

    (201) 646-7900


    Office Hours: MTWR: 7:45-8:15AM and 2:30-3:00PM  Room 268

    Other Times by Appointment

    Teacher Website Link: /webpages/cpowers/


    Mr. Christopher Ryan

    (201) 646-7900


    Office Hours: MTWR: 7:45-8:15AM and 2:30-3:00PM  Room 268

    Teacher Website Link: /webpages/cryan/



    Course Description

    Advanced Placement Literature and Composition is an extensive preparation course in which students will analyze prose and poetic texts from the point of view of the writer as well as of the reader to determine how the literature affects its readers and in what ways. In addition, students will examine the style and structure of a text, including a writer's diction, imagery, use of detail, language and syntax and attempt to determine the effect of a particular style and structure on the overall meaning of the work. Vocabulary study is important. Writing well about literature is a key component of the class. Students will keep a writing log over the course of the year to document their improvement and to engage themselves in thinking about their writing. The anticipated result of this course is that students will be prepared for the Advanced Placement examination in English Literature and Composition, as well as for college and the workplace. This course is designed to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to the introductory year of a college literature and composition course. This course follows the curricular requirements set forth in the AP English Course Description.


    Required Materials


    §  One (1) three-ring binder (at least 1” thick) to hold supplementary readings.

    §  Loose leaf paper or a dedicated notebook/binder section for holding notes.

    §  One (1) marble composition book for writing timed essays. (Composition books must be left in the classroom, so do not use these books for notes!)

    §  Highlighter(s).


    Suggested Materials


    §  Post-It notes for annotating key textual passages.

    §  One (1) USB Flash drive (any size) for backing up and retrieving documents.


    In addition, students must activate their Hackensack High School email address for class and to sign up for TurnItIn.com; submitting work through TurnItIn is a course requirement.  If you have lost or forgotten your password for your school email address, or neglected to initially sign up, you should see either someone in EDP or Ms. Ortiz in the Media Center.


    Computer labs are available in Rooms 275, 281, the Media Center, and EDP (Room 163) for students without regular computer access at home.




    Throughout the year, students will

    1.      engage in a close reading and intensive study of various representative works of English Literature of recognized literary merit and of increasing complexity and sophistication, spanning different cultures, genres and historical time periods, including but not limited to the 16th-21st centuries;

    2.      make connections between the literature discussed in class and contemporary nonfiction touchstone texts, including but not limited to literary criticism, essays, historical documents, political commentary and biographies;

    3.      observe the textual details present in a work in order to make connections among observations and to draw inferences regarding a work’s meaning and value.

    4.      generate meaningful, analytical and interesting discussions concerning the themes and issues raised in the literature, making connections to contemporary culture.

    5.      write for a variety of purposes, for different audiences and in a variety of forms, including narrative writing, analytical writing, expository writing, argumentative writing and synthesis writing;

    6.      incorporate methods of research into their writing utilizing a variety of sources in order to understand the historical context and critical interpretations of a given work;

    7.      engage in reflection upon and revision of writing in order to enhance clarity, and to develop consistency and coherence in writing;

    8.      participate in test preparation exercises to enhance their performance on the Advanced Placement examination;


    Methods of Instruction

    Class discussion is the primary way in which students come to understand a particular work of fiction or poetry. Discussions will often be student led. In addition, cooperative learning groups will be implemented in this class. Students will be required to complete various assignments including, but not limited to, essay writing, literary reaction papers, literary-based projects and oral presentations, and self-guided reading.



    (Ideally we will cover the entire list; however, we may not read all listed works depending on time, availability of texts and/or teacher’s discretion.)


    §  Camus, Albert.  The Stranger.

    §  Hurston, Zora Neale.  Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    §  Kafka, Franz.  The Metamorphosis.

    §  Kesey, Ken.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    §  Miller, Arthur.  Death of a Salesman.

    §  Shakespeare, William.  Hamlet.

    §  Shelley, Mary.  Frankenstein.

    §  Sophocles.  Antigone.


    §  Fiction and nonfiction prose passages by authors including but not limited to: Chinua Achebe, Truman Capote, Anton Chekhov, Kate Chopin, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Sigmund Freud, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Jamaica Kincaid, H.P. Lovecraft, Barack Obama, Tim O’Brien, Flannery O’Connor, George Orwell, Henry David Thoreau, John Updike, Alice Walker.


    §  Poetry Selections from Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry


    §  Students will be responsible for learning all assigned literary terms and vocabulary; assignments on both will be due at regular intervals


    Author Assessment Research Project


     The Author Assessment Research  is a comprehensive, multi- part research assignment in which students will select an author of literary merit from a pre-approved list and read at least two novels by this author.

    For each novel, students will complete a summarization assignment that categorizes major themes, characters, symbols, literary and figurative devices, and stylistic elements.  From these assignments, the students will begin drawing together the necessary background to develop a thesis that unites the elements of their author’s body of work (oeuvre). Students will develop, in conjunction with and by approval of their instructor, a thesis about their authors’ oeuvre.  Suggested avenues of research include: gender, race, and class concerns, issues, and relations within an author’s body of work; critical and societal reaction to an author; frequently used themes, motifs, and imagery within an author’s body of work; lasting impact of an author’s body of work and its influence on literature.


    Students will also utilize secondary sources/ literary criticism to support the thesis they have developed about the author’s body of work; each student will be expected to utilize four (4) outside analytical readings of considerable length (at least 8-15 pages) and academic merit.


    Utilizing their thesis and secondary source material, students will ultimately create a paper of approximately 3,000 words that presents their thesis and supports it with information from primary and secondary sources. 


    Each part of the assignment will have its own weight , due date and specific set of instructions. Students will be given ample time and assistance during each stage of the process.



    Course Policies, Procedures, and Expectations



    Attendance is mandatory.  Students are responsible for all work missed in the event of an absence.  Make up homework must be handed in and make up tests/quizzes must be taken no later than three days from a student’s return.  Students are to be in their seats, prepared to work when the bell rings; students loitering outside classrooms or unprepared in their seats will be marked late, losing participation credit for the day!


    Readings/ Monthly Calendar

    AP English Literature approximates the course work of an introductory college literature class.  There will be daily readings assigned.  Students must be prepared each day to discuss the previous night’s reading and to continue discussion from the previous day.  Reading quizzes will be given after each assigned reading.  Keep up with the reading!  Make sure to bring all readings to class each and every day.

    To assist students in keeping up with the rigorous workload for the class, a monthly calendar detailing all of the due dates for the readings and major assignments will be distributed to students at the beginning of each month. An online version of this calendar will be available on the instructors’ websites.  The instructors will make every effort to adhere to these due dates; however, based on time and the needs of the class, due dates may be slightly altered.


    Note Taking

    It is extremely important to take copious and successful notes.  Notes should not only be taken on what is written on the board; take notes on what the instructors say, on what peers say, and on what students have read both in-class and out.  While students cannot write in the English Department’s books, they may take copious notes on any handouts!  Students may use Post It notes to take notes in English Department books.


    General Guidelines

    The sharing of thoughts, interpretation, and opinion is critical to fostering the intellectual environment necessary for a successful school year.  Therefore, it is important that students respect one another.  Please pay attention to what peers are saying; do not socialize while another student is speaking.  In addition, please remember to be prepared; pens, pencils, and paper will not be furnished, and it is the student’s responsibility to make sure he or she is ready for class.


    Students must have a separate, College-Ruled marble composition book for timed essays, Do Nows, and other in-class writing.  Composition books will be collected and checked at regular intervals, and should be available for collection at all times.  Notebooks may be left in the classroom and picked up when the student enters.  Students will also require one binder to collect all handouts and texts.  The binder should be at least 1” thick.  In addition, a notebook or notebook section dedicated to note taking will be necessary; notes are not to be written in the student’s composition book, so as not to interfere with studying during composition book checks.



    Assessment is done primarily through essays, quizzes (reading quizzes, vocabulary quizzes) and class discussion. Knowledge of literary terms is tested. Students are expected to be active participants in discussions.





    MP Weight

    Class Participation [including participation, classwork, and homework]

    25 %

    Drafted Writing [including timed and prepared essays, as well as reaction papers, oral presentations and other projects]


    In-class Assessments [including quizzes , tests, and Do Nows]




    Students should access instructors’ websites several times throughout the week to keep up to date on assignments and to print out copies of any assignments that have been distributed for that particular week.   Please note that due dates on some assignments are subject to change.  All changes will be announced in class and posted on the website.


    Submitting Assignments

    All major assignments (essays, papers)  should be submitted electronically through TurnItIn.com.  Assignments will be graded and returned electronically.  Assignments must be submitted by 6:00PM, Eastern Standard Time on the date due; late assignments will lose points for each day late; assignments later than three days will be accepted only at instructor’s discretion.  Bounced e-mail or TurnItIn.com problems will not be excused; take precautions, back up work, and submit it early!



    All submitted work should be typed in Times New Roman 11 or 12 pt font with 1” margins. Students are to follow MLA guidelines for writing mechanics and for formatting all written work.  (See final pages for the full style guide.)  Work will not be accepted if it does not adhere to the style guide.


    Course Outline

    (Timeline and due dates subject to change)

    • Literary/rhetorical devices and vocabulary words will be reviewed throughout the school year; students’ comprehension of these will be assessed regularly.
    • Throughout the year, poetry and prose passages will be studied and analyzed; students will utilize literary/rhetorical devices in their analyses.
    • Students will be expected to write bimonthly timed AP style essays.
    • Students will be expected to take at least one complete practice AP test per semester; these tests will be administered on a Saturday morning or weekday evening at teachers’ discretion.


    Semester One  ¾  Society and Its Influence on the Individual

    This semester will focus on society and its influence on the individual. We will consider how factors such as race, gender and class affect the individual within society and how these factors create or mitigate tension within the individual.


    Summer Assignment: Death of A Salesman – Arthur Miller

    Due Friday, September 13th, 2013 – Uploaded to Turnitin.com


    Introductory Unit – Writing About Literature

    • AP Writing Guidelines
    • Active & passive voice
    • Conciseness: eliminating wordiness
    • Paragraph unity
    • CSE (Claim/Support/Explanation)
    • Answering the "So What?" question
    • MLA format
    • What makes a good, even great AP essay?


    Introduce literary devices and quiz schedule

    • Literary device assignment
    • Presentation of literary device assignment


    Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller

    §  What is Miller’s opinion of “the American Dream”?  How does this opinion manifest through the titular salesman?

    §  How does Biff’s character arc relate to his father’s?  What is suggested by the ending scene?

    §  What commentary is Miller making about the society of the late 1950’s?

    §  How is Willie’s final action representative of his life as a whole?  Who is ultimately responsible?


    Supplemental materials

    Background information on Miller

    Historical Information on the American Dream; American Life in the 1950’s


    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

    • What are the major themes and how are they developed throughout the novel?
    • In what ways do various characters represent aspects of society?

    §  How does both race and gender play a factor in the lives of its characters?

    §  Why do you think the text has been criticized for its treatment of both race and gender?

    §  How is Nurse Ratched’s ward like a totalitarian society? How is it reflective upon its time period?

    §  Who is the real protagonist of the story? Why is it, perhaps, blurred?

    §  How does Kesey make the reader question the accepted definitions of “sane” and “insane”?

    §  Is society responsible for the destruction of natural impulses? How does Kesey display this opinion?

    §  How does the motif of invisibility aid in progression of the text?


    Supplemental materials

    Background information on Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, the 1960’s counterculture, the Beat Generation, the hippie movement, and LSD

    Touchstone nonfiction texts

    §  Excerpts from The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe

    §  Excerpts from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

    §  “Bitches, Twitches, and Eunichs: Sex Role Failure and Caricature” – Leslie Horst

    §  “The Cowboy Saint and the Indian Poet: The Comic Hero in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – Carol Pearson

    §  Diagnosis information on schizophrenia as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association.


    Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

    • What does it mean to “play god”? What are the consequences of Frankenstein’s decision to do so?
    • What is a creator’s relationship and responsibility to his or her creation?
    • What is man’s relationship to the unknown, and his response to it?
    • What are the limits of our scientific knowledge, both practical and moral?  Are there lines we can or should not cross?  Students will be expected to consider this question in the context of modern science.
    • Frankenstein is often considered one of the first science fiction texts (or a proto-science fiction text).  What are the generic hallmarks of science fiction and how are they evident in the novel?
    • How does a framed narrative function in literature?  What does Frankenstein’s frame contribute to the work’s meaning?


    Supplemental materials

    Background information on Shelley, Gothic Literature and Romanticism

    Readings on gene therapy, genetic modification, cloning, and other modern scientific innovations.