Syllabus & Calendar

Advanced Placement English Literature Syllabus

Ms. D’Amato

Course Overview:

AP English expands and develops skills in critical reading and writing about  literature. Authors are chosen from the AP English Course Description for the English Literature and Composition Exam or from those appearing on previous AP Literature and Composition Exams. Works are at a reading and content level appropriate for college freshmen. The course stresses a critical awareness of genre, theme, and style, focusing on British, American and world literature. Writing assignments emphasize the refinement of personal expression and style and critical thinking at a level equivalent to composition assignments at the freshman college level. Each unit involves thematic reading of full length literary works, close reading of excerpts including close examination of authors’ style and crafts; writing exercises, including formal extended analyses, timed in-class responses, micro-essays which enable students to learn methods of analysis they will use in extended essays, and reading logs. Topics for micro-essays and timed writings are assigned; given a range of possibilities, students select the topics for their own major essays. They have a week for the first draft, with a required peer edit two days before the draft is due to the instructor. This draft is returned with the instructor’s suggestions for revision, which is due a week later to allow for writing conferences. Students may revise multiple times within the week.

Not all writing is analytical. The college essay unit involves a free writing journal on a variety of prompts similar to college application essay prompts; this journal becomes a resource for students as they revise toward a college application essay.

For each unit, students keep a reading journal which provides the notes for a graded discussion( in pairs or a small group of 3-4) and the basis for their essays. Students also reflect upon their own writing process in written self-assessment  each semester. For poetry unit, a creative responses such as writing a villanelle, sestina, Terza rima, sonnet or ode; for the “Troubled World” unit, writing a satire satirizing a current social or political problem; creating vignettes based on characters  in plays and a script with homage to Samule Becketts’ Krapp’s Last Tape; and writing a missing scene from As You Like It.


Fall Semester

Unit 1: Close Reading:  Analyzing Poetry  & College Essay Writing
Time Fame: Sept. 9-Sept. 30
Texts: Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia, An Introduction to Poetry. 8th ed. Harper, 1994.Perrine, Laurence and Thomas R. Arp, eds. Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry. 8th ed. Harcourt Brace, 1992.

Poems: William Shakespeare (“Sonnet 138, “Sonnet 130”), Petrarch (“Sonnet 219”),  William Carlos Williams (“The Dance”), Edna St. Vincent Millay (“I will put chaos into fourteen lines”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Bells”), John Frederick Nims (“Love Poem”), Seamus Heaney (“Mid-Term Break” and “Digging”), Gerard Manley Hopkins (“Pied Beauty”), Allen Ginsberg (“A Supermarket in America,”) Derek Walcott (“The Virgins”), Andrew Marvell (“To His Coy Mistress”), Lord Byron (“The West Wind”), Elizabeth Bishop ( “One Art”), John Keats (“Ode to Autumn”, “Bright Star, Would I were steadfast as thou art-“), Margaret Atwood (“Siren Song”),  Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”

Literary Criticism articles: Kennedy & Gioia (“Writing Critically: Word Choice, Tone and Point of View”, “How Metaphors Enlarge a Poem’s Meaning”, “Is it possible to write about sound?”, “Analyzing Images”); Jago & Shea (“Special Consideration for reading Poetry Closely”)


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Read a poem critically, with attention to the poem’s theme and the elements of style such as poetic syntax
  • Analyze the form, structure, diction, voice, connotations, sound devices, imagery & figures of speech, symbol, purpose, persona, tone
  • Distinguish various fixed forms of poetry such as sonnet, sestina, terza rima, villanelle, blank verse, free verse
  • Identify figurative language and syntactical patterns,
  • Use the language of the criticism of poetry, and
  • Write well-supported analytical essays of poems.
  • Write their own poem of one of the closed forms


Students will write, peer edit and revise 3 out of 5 micro-essays (brief analytical essays):

  • Ambiguous diction in Sonnet 138
  • Word Choice, Tone, and Point of View in Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”
  • Diction, paradox and structure in or “Love Poem”
  • Figures of Speech in Emily Dickinson’s “ My Life Had Stood-A Loaded Gun”
  • “Rhyme, Meter, Form, Poetic Syntax and Sound” in “Bright Star, Would I were steadfast as thou art-“ by John Keats
  • A timed writing on a poem, using a prompt from a past AP English Literature exam ( Summative Assessment).

Evaluation Criteria: College board AP Essay rubric

Evaluation of these essays will include comments and writing conferences addressing grammar and usage, logical structure, levels of generalization,

College Essay

Text: Bloom, Lynn Z. The Essay Connection: Readings for Writers. 7th Edition Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston New York


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Critically read and discuss sample personal essays by professional authors,
  • Write journal entries in response to a variety of different prompts on personal subjects, including description, exposition, narration, and reflection,
  • Write a personal essay for an academic audience,
  • Write in a variety of modes, including description, exposition, narration and persuasion, and
  • Revise repeatedly for various audiences and within various constraints.


  • 3 journal responses to sample college application prompts,
  • Peer editing of 1 entry,
  • Revision of one prompt into a sample application essay,
  • Peer editing of the essay,
  • Teacher feedback on the essay, and
  • Revision, including editing of essay for audience and length.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Teacher-made rubric for Journals
    • Six-Trait Rubric for personal essay

Unit 2: Classic Tragic Hero vs Modern Common Man

Time Frame: Oct.1, 2013-Nov.26,2013

Texts: Poetics by Aristotle, Oedipus by Sophocles, Hamlet by Shakespeare ( , Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, “On Common Man” by Arthur Miller; Literary Concepts and Theory: tragic hero*, tragedy, tragic flaw, on tragedies (


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify the tragic flaw in a tragic character and understand the conflicted nature of fate and character
  • Examine the improbability of a tragic fate a tragic hero must face and the circumstances that cause such inevitability
  • Compare a classical tragic hero and a tragic common man
  • Identify and examine themes such as fate, American dream, disillusionment, revenge, justice, deception, illusion, love, failure, madness
  • Identify patterns of development, including character foils and parallel plots,
  • Discuss quotations from the text in relation to major themes, including kingship, inheritance, fate, justice, parents and children, love, legitimacy,  eyes and sight, madness, religion, truth, jealousy, guilt, identity, cruelty,
  • Write and rewrite formal, extended analyses and timed, in-class responses in all of the following modes: writing to understand, writing to explain, and writing to evaluate.
  • Gain awareness that the English language that writers use has changed dramatically through history, and
  • Engage in thoughtful discussion


  • Reading quizzes on each text
  • Micro-essays: Rhetorical analysis of one of Hamlet’s soliloquys “To be or not to be…”, “What a rogue I am…” and “”  “Give your pardon sir I have done you wrong”  How all occasions do inform against me “
  • Written or oral rhetorical analysis of an argument scene between Creon and Haemon in Oedipus
  • Written analysis of a specific passage in Things Fall Apart and discuss how the passage reveals the overall theme of the book artfully
  • In-depth reading and analysis of Willy Loman as a tragic character but nevertheless a “hero”.
  • Quotation analysis quiz,
  • Essay test emphasizing themes and characterization,
  • Formal, revised analytical essay with peer editing.
  • AP Essay based on one of the College Board-published open-ended essay questions ( summative assessment).

Unit 3: Women’s Role in History and Society & Application of Literary Theories

Time Frame: Dec. 2, 2013 -Jan. 30, 2014

Texts: Euripides’ Medea or Electra , Antigone by Sophocles, Hamlet By Shakespeare ( Gertrude and Ophelia),  As You Like It (Rosalind) by Shakespeare, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy,  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn, A Room with a View by Virginia Woolf, Three Sisters by Chekov, A Streetcar Named Desire ( Blanch) by Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Three Tall Women by Edward Albee

Resources: Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 3rd. ed. St. Martin’s, 1993; Library and internet resources.

Part I: Women’s Role in History and Society


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify unconventional traits in a female character against her social structure and ideology
  • Recognize and explain how each heroin is a “woman warrior” in her own way
  • Identify the common cause of their tragic ending
  • Read critically and analyze an excerpt from a chosen text to discuss how the excerpt is related to a specific theme that permeates the work.
  • Use a specific literary theory to analyze one of the heroines



  • Reading quizzes on each required text
  • Micro-essays: Rhetorical analysis of Antigone’s speech to Creon in Scene 4 of Antigone; analyze excerpts of a 19th century novel and discuss how the section helps develop a theme; analyze an excerpt from a modern drama( Tennessee or Albee) and discuss how the section contributes to the larger picture of the heroine’s character development.
  • Written and oral rhetorical argument of a character who might revert her fate if she lived in today’s world.
  • Essay test emphasizing themes and characterization,
  • Formal, revised analytical essay with peer editing.
  • AP Essay based on one of the College Board-published open-ended essay questions ( summative assessment).


Part II: Application of Literary Theories


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify the differences among literary theories, including formalism, archetypal criticism, feminist and gender criticism, Marxist criticism, psychological criticism, reader-response criticism, deconstructionism, school of the absurd, biographical criticism, multicultural criticism, literary history and new historicism,
  • Appraise a critics’ view on a specific work listed and locate literary criticism that represents a specific critical approach to the text
  • Interpret a text from at least one of these critical theories, with relevant details
  • Deliver a comprehensive group oral presentation explaining the origins, major critics, and theory of each approach, including an interpretation of the text
  • Synthesize their own interpretation and relevant critical perspectives into an oral analysis of the text, and
  • Write, peer edit and revise a documented essay applying one critical approach, with support relevant to the critical perspective selected.


  • Group explanation of approach and analysis of text, and
  • Individual essay drafts and revisions analyzing one of the texts according to the student’s choice of literary theory.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Teacher-made rubric for oral presentation
  • Six-Trait Rubric for essay


Spring 2014

Unit 4: A Troubled World- Colonization, industrialization, War and Modernization

Time Frame: Feb. 2014-March 2014 ( Spring 2014)

Texts: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, ‘Shooting an Elephant’ & Other essays by George Orwell, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, “Chimney Sweepers”  by William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, war poetry by Wilfred Owen, Things They Carried by Tim O’Brian, “The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot, End Game by Samuel Beckett


Students will demonstrate the ability to-

  • Identify the effect of literary techniques such as point of view, structure, frame narration, imagery, figurative language, tone, diction, theme and syntax.
  • Question and discuss the authors’ purpose in relation to the social, historical and political context of the novel’s setting and the values of their time.
  • Evaluate the relevance of different approaches to analyzing the novella Heart of Darkness and debate the novel as a view of a racist o imperialist
  • Analyze Marlow ‘s views of Congo as a character; Analyze the meaning of the title ; Analyze the symbolic meaning of Kurtz
  • Compare Orwell’s work with Conrad’s in the sense of colonization- how effectively does each author describe the colonization?  How different are their approaches to the social issue?
  • Compare Blake and Gaskell’s attitude toward an ever-growing industrialized world
  • Identify the connections between the war effect described in Owen’s poems and that of O’Brian’s novel.
  • Identify the similar tone and theme conveyed in ‘The Wasteland” and end Game.
  • Identify major characteristics of the” theater of the absurd” and modern poetry.
  • Write a well-supported essay( in class) based on an open-ended essay prompt (from a previous AP Lit Exam) relating to one of the themes of Heart of Darkness.


  • Eight Informal passage-based responses
  • Character analysis ( individual and group)
  • Theme comparison
  • Timed writing ( Open-Ended essay prompt)

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Teacher-created rubric for informal responses and character analysis
  • College Board AP Essay rubric for in-class time essay

Unit 5: Suffering and Triumph

Time Frame: March 2014-May 5, 2014

Texts: Piano Lesson by August Wilson, Atonement by Ian McEwan, “A Rose for Emily” & Sound and Fury by William Falkner, Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett.


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Understand the works’ complexity- structure, diction,  theme, voice, character development and historical contexts
  • Identify the effect of literary  artistry
  • Recognize the anachronism used in the narrative
  • Identify  traditional characterization and point of view and their modern variations
  • Identify effective use of literary elements or techniques  such as character development, plot, structure, and symbolism etc. in untraditional ways
  • Understand the complexity and absurdism of a modern literary work
  • Recognize the relationship between modern art theories of 20th century and  their influence on literature
  • Write an essay to analyze a passage ( an excerpt from one of the works listed)- AP Prose analysis essay


  • Dialectical journals ( informal)
  • Reading quizzes
  • Five Micro-essays ( analysis on the  effective use of literary techniques in a passage)
  • Two in-class essays ( open-ended prompt and an excerpt from one of the works of this unit)

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Teacher-created rubric for informal assessments
  • College Board AP Lit Essay rubric ( prose analysis)


  • Practice Multiple-Choice format and types of questions
  • Discuss essay prompts

 *Every student in the AP class will be programed to take the AP Literature and Composition Exam.