AP English Literature and Composition 

Course Description 

The goals of this course are to 


Required Text:  

DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 5th Edition. McGraw Hill ISBN # 0-07-242617-9 

Recommended Materials: 

Any AP Literature and Composition Preparation Guide  

In the AP Literature and Composition course, the student should consider obtaining a personal copy of the various novels, plays, epics, poems, and short fiction use in the course.

Short Stories:

“Astronomer’s Wife,” Kate Boyle; “Shiloh,” Bobby Ann Mason; “Araby,” James Joyce; “The Rocking Horse Winner,” D.H. Lawrence; “Good Country People” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor; “Eleven,” Sandra Cisneros; “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez; “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman; “Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne; “Metamorphosis,” Franz Kafka’ “I Stand Here Ironing,” Tillie Olson; “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” Katherine Anne Porter; “Gimpel the Fool,” Isaac Bashevis Singer; “The Lesson,” Toni Cade Bambara; “The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien. 


“The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost; “Rape,” Adrienne Rich; “An Irishman Foresees his Death,” William Butler Yeats; “1(a” and [Buffalo Bill’s],” E.E. Cummings; “London,” William Blake; “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” “Dover Beach,” Matthew Arnold; “The Dover Bitch: A Criticism of Life,” Anthony Hetcht; “The Lamb,” “The Tyger,” and “The Garden of Love,” William Blake; “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” Robert Herrick; “When I was one-and-twenty” and “To an Athlete Dying Young,” A.E. Housman; “To His Coy Mistress,” Andrew Marvell; “When I consider how my light is spent,” John Milton; “Ozymandias,” Percy Bysshe Shelley; “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” and “The world is too much with us,” Walt Whitman; “We Real Cool,” Gwendolyn Brooks; “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” T.S. Eliot; “Do not go gentle into that night,” Dylan Thomas; “Death of a Toad,” Richard Wilbur’  


Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and The Tragedy of Othello by William Shakespeare  

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard 


Beloved by Toni Morrison

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky


An AP English Literature and Composition course engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students 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.  

Reading in this course is both wide and deep. This reading necessarily builds upon the reading done in previous English courses. Students will read works from several genres and periods—from sixteenth to the twenty-first century—but, more importantly, they get to know a few works well. They read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work’s complexity, to absorb its richness and meaning, and to analyze how that meaning is embodied in literary form. In addition to considering a work’s artistry, students reflect on the social and historical values it reflects and embodies. Careful attention to both textual detail and historical context provides a foundation for interpretation, whatever critical perspectives are brought to bear on the literary works studied.  

Active Reading  
Reading actively includes understanding the writer’s purpose, audience, logic, and themes.  Highlighting and annotating help the reader toward understanding what is read.   
Highlighting involves marking the text with symbols (underline, number, etc.) whenever the reader comes across a particularly useful or interesting section.  Annotating involves carrying on a conversation with the text by using marginal notes.  The reader might do this by asking questions and looking for parallels among the reading, other readings, and the reader’s personal experiences.  Questions which arise during active reader are then answered through a more careful analysis. 


“Don’t tear up the page and start over again when you write a bad line-try to write your way out of it. Make mistakes and plunge on…Writing is a means of discovery, always.”

–Garrison Keillor 

“Inspiration usually comes during work, rather that before it.”–Madeleine L’ Engle 

“I’ve always thought best when I wrote.” -Toni Morrison 

“Writing is a political instrument.” – James Baldwin 

“I write to find out what I’m thinking. I write to find out who I am. I write to understand things.” – Julia Alvarez 

“To engage in imitation is to begen to understand what originality means.” –Nicholas Delblanco 

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time-unlike, say, brain surgery.” –Robert Cormier 

Writing is an integral part of course and exam. Writing assignments focus on the critical analysis of literature and include expository, analytical, and argumentative essays.  Although critical analysis makes up the bulk of students writing for the course, well-constructed creative writing assignments may help students see from the inside how literature is written. Such experiences sharpen their understanding of what writers have accomplished and deepen their appreciation of literary artistry. The goal of both types of writing assignments is to increase students’ ability to explain clearly, cogently, even elegantly, what they understand about literary works and why they interpret them as they do. 

To that end, writing instruction includes attention to developing and organizing ideas in clear, coherent, and persuasive language. It includes study of the elements of style. And it attends to matters of precision and correctness as necessary. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on helping students develop stylistic maturity, which, for AP English, is characterized by the following: 


The writing required in an AP English Literature and Composition course is thus more than a mere adjunct to the study of literature. The writing that students produce in the course reinforces their reading. Since reading and writing stimulate and support one another, they are taught together in order to underscore both their reading. Since reading and writing stimulate and support one another, they are taught together in order to underscore both their common and their distinctive elements (AP English Course Description 2006).


The “9” Essay  
The essay is a well-organized essay that answers the question incisively.  The writer develops a valid thesis through the use of specific and relevant references to the text. Insight into the literature is clearly expressed using language appropriate to literary criticism.  The writer demonstrates command of the elements of composition and analytical writing. 


We will work every day on invigorating your writing style. You will participate in writing workshops that will focus on improving your voice, style, diction, syntax, and structure. We will work on improving your ability to balance observations and generalizations with concrete details and insightful commentary. We will work on eliminating weak verbs, wordiness, deadwood, clichés, qualifiers, synonyms, preposition overloading, and nominalization. We will implement the writing process to help you write logically, emphatically, concisely, coherently, and beautifully.   In order to improve your writing, the process requires several revisions to each piece of formal writing.   Peer editing and teacher feedback will be a major part of the process.  Peer editing helps students recognize common mistakes and ways to encourage careful analysis. Teacher feedback further guides students toward mastery of the aforementioned writing techniques. 

For each formal writing assignment, you will be given a specific grading rubric. We will go over the rubrics as a class prior to beginning each assignment and again prior to submitting a paper for a grade.  Remember to consult your rubrics throughout the entire writing process. 


You will produce a final writing portfolio that includes creative writing, persuasive pieces, pastiches, parodies, original poetry, reflections, interpretative essays, explications, expository essays, meta-cognitive journals, evaluations, on-demand writing, style analyses, literary analyses, formal analyses, and research papers. 

Group Projects and Oral Presentations:

Students will from groups to read and discuss the work assigned. The group will be assigned an element(s) and/or a character(s) to analyze along with a seminar topic to research. Each student will share their findings, insights, evidence, and observations with the group. Each group will share their information with the class Evaluation and assessment section 

Performance Tasks:


Grading Scale

90-100 % A
80-89 % B
70-79 % C
60-69 % D
<60 % F
In-class writings, discussions, and activities                         40%
Group projects, seminar topics, and collaborative work   30%
Out of class writing, reading, and other assignments            30%
Extra Credit and enrichment activities            (not to exceed 3%)

*Absences and tardiness can affect your grade. 

Extra Credit and Enrichment Activities 


Summer Assignment: Modern Drama

Summer/2 weeks in class 



Literary Terms

Biblical Allusions

Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun

Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Miller’s “Tragedy and the Common Man”  

Unit 1: Literary Criticism and Genres: New Criticism, Historical/Social/Feminist, Archetypal/Mythic, and Other Approaches

6 weeks 

Reading (and Writing about) Literature  (DiYanni, pp. 2-13)

The Experience of Fiction, The Interpretation of Fiction, The Evaluation of Fiction, and The Act of Reading Fiction (Diyanni pp.21-32)

Types of Fiction (DiYanni, pp. 37-42)

Reading Poems: The Experience of Poetry, The Interpretation of Poetry, The Evaluation of Poetry, and The Act of Reading Poetry (DiYanni, pp. 670-681)

Types of Poetry (DiYanni, pp. 682-685)

Critical Theory: Approaches to the Analysis and Interpretation of Literature (DiYanni, pp.2068-2111) 

Reading poetry is a “recursive process.” In-class reading aloud of poetry, reading actively/annotating, group discussion and analysis, and writing about a work of literature. 

Invigorating Your Style Workshop: Creating Meaningful Thesis Statements, Using implicit and explicit evidence

Peer editing, rewriting, and revising 

Timed in-class writing: Compare/Contrast two works in the same genre using all 3 critical approaches 

Explanation of Critical Approaches to Literature Paper

Develop Rubric in class/share anchor papers 

Unit 2: Personal Essay for College Admission/Scholarship Application

3 weeks in class 

Explanation of the Reflective Essay

Invigorating Your Style Workshop: Choosing a topic, developing your voice, using anecdotes, narration strategies, dialogue and details, and writing emphatically and concisely. 

Peer editing, rewriting, and revising

Develop Rubric in class/share papers 

Unit 3: The Greek Theatre/Aristotle’s view of Tragedy

3 weeks outside of class/2 weeks in class 

Oedipus the King and Antigone

The Greek Theatre: Sophocles in Context (Diyanni, pp.1217-1301)

Group project #1: Literary Analysis of Drama

Timed in-class AP Free Response Question

Discuss AP Test Question 3 rubric and study sample essays 

Invigorating Your Style Workshop: Writing about drama, using academic verbs, embedding quotes, and writing about character and theme 

Peer editing, rewriting, and revising 

Unit 4: Style Analysis: Poetry and Prose

5 weeks in class 

Elements of Fiction: Plot, Character, Setting, Point of View, Language and Style, Irony and Symbol (Diyanni, pp. 43-106)

Writing about Fiction (DiYanni, pp. 107-124)

Elements of Poetry: Voice, Speaker, Tone, Diction, Imagery, Figures of Speech, Symbolism, Allegory, Syntax, Sound, Rhythm, Meter, Structure, and Theme (DiYanni, pp. 686-755)

Writing about Poetry (DiYanni, pp. 805-821) 

Invigorating Your Style Workshop: Concrete detail, commentary, chunking, the ideal paragraph, transitions, and tips for taking in-class essays. 

Peer editing, rewriting, and revising

Group project #2: Literary Analysis: Poetry

Timed in-class writing: Tone and Elements of Style

Explanation of Interpretation Paper

Discuss rubrics for AP Test Questions 1 and 2. Study sample essays. 

Unit 5: The Novel: Toni Morrison’s Beloved

5 weeks outside of class/2 weeks in class 

Structural Approaches

Point of View, Narration, and the Implied Author 

Invigorating Your Style Workshop: Identifying key terms, cueing the reader, meaning of the work as a whole, writing in present tense, academic nouns 

Peer editing, rewriting, and revising 

Group Project #3: Literary Analysis: Novel

Timed in-class writing: AP Free Response Questions

Explanation of Social/Historical Perspective Paper

Create rubric/share samples essays 

End of 1st Semester 

Portfolio with reflection and self-evaluation

Final Exam 

Unit 6: The Elizabethan Theatre: Shakespeare in Context

5 weeks in class 

Hamlet Prince of Denmark (in class) and Othello (outside of class)

Critical Perspectives and Research on Elizabethan Worldview

(Diyanni, pp.1302-1505)

(Diyanni, pp. 2031-2067)

Group Project #5: Research and Seminar (See topics)

Timed in-class writing: Issues in Hamlet/Othello

Explanation of the research paper 

Invigorating Your Style Workshop: MLA format, attribution, documentation, using sources, quotations, citations, constructing a sound an argument, counterarguing, and exposing fallacies. 

Peer editing, rewriting, and revising 

Unit 7: Theatre of the Absurd/Existentialism

2 weeks in class 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

(DiYanni, pp.1507-08)

Homework and discussion questions 

Unit 8: Metaphysical Poetry

2 weeks in class 


Poetry analysis and reflection

Practice multiple-choice selections 

Unit 9: Philosophy and Literature

4 weeks in class 

Crime and Punishment (outside of class)

“Metamorphosis” (DiYanni, pp. 393)

Flannery O’ Connor’s Fiction (DiYanni, pp. 181-229). 

Group Project: Create your own philosophy

Timed in-class writing: prose analysis 
Explanation of literary analysis paper: fiction

Create rubric and share sample essay 

Invigorating Your Style Workshop: Writing a parody, creating a pastiche, and using personification. 

Peer editing, rewriting, and revising 

Unit 10: Comedy/Satire: Tartuffe and “A Modest Proposal”

Elements of Satire and Ladder of Comedy