AP Literature

Download AP English Literature and Composition Syllabus here. SKM AP 2012-13 Course Overview.

Course Overview: AP Literature is a challenging course of English Literature, taught at the sophomore college level. Students are expected to work rapidly, write multiple pieces in a variety of genres, read seven major works plus more than 160 poems and essays, and attend every class period. Grades are based on a variety of writing assignments, and both summative and formative papers will be part of the curriculum. The main focus of the course is analytical, persuasive, and expository writing, but a range of different writing genres forms classroom instruction and homework. My students are expected to work hard, demonstrate a love of reading and writing, and be committed to the program. Further, the materials covered in this course are adult materials, and students are expected to be mature in their thinking, reading, and writing. The course emphasizes philosophical constructs from various times and places, and students are expected to read carefully and think deeply. It is writing intensive: students can expect to write in class every day, as well as have a writing assignment every class period for homework. Students will write many analytical papers over the course of the year, but they will also be working in other writing genres: free-writes, journals, argumentative and persuasive writing, creative writing, reaction/thought paper writing, drafting, peer editing, and annotation.

Because this is a college level class, students enrolled in AP Literature are expected to be able to write fluently, and be able to produce papers that are thorough, and follow all of the regular conventions of English. However, there will be multiple opportunities for students to write formative (writing for learning) papers where instructor feedback is given to help students improve their skills. 

Course Goals: Course emphasis is on analytical thinking skills, various critical approaches to reading and writing about literature, literacy in various media, and expository writing.

  1. To carefully read and critically analyze imaginative literature.
  2. To understand the way writers use language to provide meaning and pleasure.
  3. To consider a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as such smaller scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.
  4. To study representative works from various genres and periods (from the sixteenth to the twentieth century) but to know a few works extremely well.
  5. To understand a work’s complexity, to absorb richness of meaning, and to analyze how meaning is embodied in literary form.
  6. To consider the social and historical values a work reflects and embodies.
  7. To write focusing on critical analysis of literature including expository, analytical, and argumentative essays as well as creative writing to sharpen understanding of writers’ accomplishments and deepen appreciation of literary artistry.
  8. To become aware of, through speaking, listening, reading, and chiefly writing, the resources of language:  connotation, metaphor, irony, syntax, and tone.


This course will utilize a standard-based grading model, utilizing a combination of points and AP rubrics to track student proficiency. Grading will be consistent with AP/college level standards, and essays will be assessed using the scoring rubric produced by the College Board. Quarterly grades will be based on total points on the following:

  1.  Class assignments / In-Class Writings
  2.  Writer’s Notebook / Journal Entries
  3.  Formal Papers / Compositions
  4.  Quizzes
  5.  Comprehensive Quarterly Tests
  6.  Homework / Participation
  7.  Group Work / Collaboration
  8.  Projects / Presentations

Grading Scale:

A = 100-90.0%   B = 89.9-80.0%   C = 79.9-70.0%   D = 69.9-55.0%  F =54.9-0%

Final Course Grade:

Final course grade will be based on the average of final term percentages.

REWRITE POLICY: Any paper may be rewritten and resubmitted for a higher grade until the last day of the relevant quarter. Feedback to students on their writing is both summative and formative, and students are encouraged to meet with the instructor for writing conferences both prior to submission of a summative paper, or after a summative or formative paper has been returned with feedback.  Summative papers are assigned several weeks before they are due, and students may submit drafts for feedback or come in for writing conferences at any time. Formative writing is assigned every day in and out of class and is used as an exercise in writing-to-learn, where students have the opportunity to take risks in their approach and analysis of literature, as well as learning the various rhetorical techniques of writing in a risk-free situation. In AP Literature, writing is a process of personal growth and development, and instructor feedback coupled with conferencing is part of that process.

General Scope and Sequence (Subject to change based on student and teacher interests)

  1. Summer: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Thurston, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson, and How to Read Literature Like a Professorby Thomas C. Foster.  Students are
    1. To complete Novel Notes (see attached summer instructions)
    2. Create a visual presentation about the three literary devices used in both fiction pieces
    3. Write an in-class essay on the books in which you use the ideas from Foster’s book as a guide to analyze the literature you read.

Feedback is given to the students regarding their depth of thinking and ability to understand what they have read at a level beyond paraphrase and plot summary. The students are also given specific guidance at this time about their approximate writing level in regard to the expectations of the course, with feedback about what actions should be taken to assure that their writing meets those expectations in future papers.

First Semester

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Thurston
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
  • Oedipus Tyrannos by Sophocles
  • A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  • Short fiction and essays – as selected
  • Poetry – as selected
  • Modern Novels – as selected

Second Semester

  • The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Short fiction and essays – as selected
  • Poetry – as selected
  • Modern Novels – as selected

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