AP Literature & Composition




To create critical and creative readers who derive true fulfillment from reading and communicating about literary fiction.


To develop students' abilities to apply insight, questioning, academic conversations, and compositional skills in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the human condition through literary fiction.

Course Goals

1. To actively read and critically analyze imaginative literature from various genres and time periods

2. To understand the way writers use language, as well as appreciate literary artistry

3. To consider a work's structure, style, and themes, as well as figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone

4. To engage in and improve academic conversation

5. To use literary themes as a way to explore the human condition through the study of universal truths

6. To improve writing skills, focusing on analysis of literature, including expository, analytical, and argumentative essays

7. To become aware of, through speaking, listening, reading, and writing, the resources of language

8. To expand and improve academic vocabulary through direct usage and practice

9. To be confident of success on the AP Exam


Aldous Huxley: Brave New World

William Shakespeare: Hamlet

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Kate Chopin: The Awakening

Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man


• 2 composition notebooks

• Highlighters and writing utensils

• Three ring binder

• Binder paper

• Sticky notes

Performance Tasks

• Timed essays based on past AP prompts

• Essay questions as required of college-level writers

• Actively reading/responding/analyzing novels, drama, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry

• Personal Essay

• Blogging, Socratic seminars, poetry writing, graphic organizers, dialectical journals, quizzes

• Multiple choice practice

• Ongoing vocabulary building and practice

• Research essay, including annotated bibliography in MLA format

• Portfolio: Google Sites

Writing Expectations

     As this is a literature and composition course, you will be expected to apply your best composition skills for every assignment. This includes editing your work before submitting. Composition practice will include timed essays, quote responses, blog posts, journaling, vocabulary paragraphs, and reflections.

We will work on vocabulary development, Standard Written English, sentence variety, and word choice in both short and longer writing assignments. You will also be responsible for improving your grammar and conventions usage by completing exercises in No Red Ink.


Semester 1

Unit 1: Introduction to Course

What is literature?

• Recognizing Literature: Literary vs. Commercial Fiction

• Connections to literature: Why bother reading "The Classics"?

• Intro to Elements of Fiction

• Direct composition instruction: Organization, crafting a solid thesis statement, quote integration, sentence variation, parallel structure

• Brave New World: Major Works Data Sheet, Small group discussion, Socratic Seminar, Timed Essay, Google Sites page

Unit 2: Drama Study

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: William Shakespeare

What happens to societies with corrupt leaders? Can revenge be justified?

"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? ~ Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act II, sc. ii

Areas of study

A) Great Chain of Being, Shakespeare's language, structure of a Shakespearean tragedy, religious and scientific beliefs of Elizabethan age

B) Analyze soliloquies for word choice and tone

C) Quizzes on acts

D) Scene selection: Tableau

E) Socratic Seminar on past AP prompt

F) Timed essay practice

     • Direct composition instruction on format: clear thesis, incorporation of lines and quotes, as well as synthesis of non-fiction source, strong organization.

Unit 3: Introduction to Poetry—The Romantic Period

Unit Objectives/SWBAT:

• Read poetry in detail and make an emotional connection

• Become familiar with poetic devices and their effect

• Apply knowledge and gain appreciation through crafting and illustrating an original sonnet

• Become familiar with zeitgeist of Romantic poets

Areas of study

• Romantic Era

• Analyze poetic devices and scan for meter

• Research essay and presentation on a Romantic Poet

• Timed poetry essay from past AP exam

Unit 4: The Gothic Novel

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

What are the effects when humans interfere with nature?

• Background exploration on the Romantic period in literature

• Consider the allusion of the title "The Modern Prometheus"

• Annotate Frankenstein

• Dialectical journal based on themes

• Timed essay: Past AP Prompt

     • Direct instruction on composition as needed

     • Peer edit

Unit 5: Poetry Revisited

• Study and analysis of poems from Metaphysical to modern era

• Students will write an interpretive essay based on careful analysis of textual details comparing the treatment of a socio-historical issue in two poems.

      • Students will write on the depiction of and attitude toward war in Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" and Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner," or the attitude toward death between Keats' "When I Have Fears" and Longfellow's "Mezzo Cammin".


Semester 2

Unit 6: The American Short Story

• Study of short fiction and literary terms and techniques, emphasizing point of view, characterization, and tone

• Group Project: Literature Circles

     • Graphic organizers

• Literary Analysis essay on chosen short story focusing on an element of fiction

Unit 7: The American Victorian Novel

Kate Chopin's The Awakening

How does one reconcile individual desires when they are antithetical to society's demands?

• Women's role in Victorian Society

• Blog posts

• Socratic Seminar

• Timed essay

Unit 8: American Poets

• Whitman to Modern Poets

• Research Project: American Poet

• MLA Format: Annotated Bibliography, in-text citations, Works Cited

Unit 9: Modern American Novel

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

How does being marginalized by society affect one's individual identity?

• Research presentation on aspect of black American culture

• Motif chart

• Double entry journals

Timed writing: Students will choose three potential prompts, write one well-developed argument paragraph as to why these prompts are suitable for the novel. One of the prompts will be chosen by class for timed writing.

Unit 10: AP Exam Preparation

• Practice exam

• Focused instruction in weak areas, TBD


* Syllabus subject to modifications at teacher's discretion

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