Course Description: The AP English Literature and Composition course engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature (fiction and poetry). Through close reading students deepen understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure. Students consider a work’s structure, style, tone, and themes, as well as discrete literary elements including figurative language, imagery, and symbolism.


    Rationale: Summer reading of the list below is NOT required, though we urge you to use time to “get ahead” since once we return to school, we will immediately begin work on the first text. We do not read in class; we expect you to read assigned texts, for the first time, outside of class. Texts have been selected based on the rich depth of experience they provide. Just as you notice additional elements in movies when viewing them a second (or third) time, you will need to read beyond a first-time reading. We expect that on the start date, you have completed reading and you are prepared for a text reading check. If you come to class having already read the book, you will be able to focus on rereading sections deeply, understanding the themes, and appreciating the literary nuances; and you will be able to write about what you have read.


    Revisit your childhood—If possible, you should watch (or re-watch) The Wizard of Oz this summer. We will use it to learn/review many literary terms.


    We strongly urge you to buy the books so you can annotate them to improve your comprehension. Our experience shows that electronic texts, although they have some advantages, cause us to waste time locating text in class and don’t allow note taking with the same rigor as paper. The AP Exam is a paper exam—changes are probably coming, but not yet.


    The dates for the following texts are approximate. (ISBNs indicate recommended editions—this will allow classes to “be on the same page” for discussions!) You are NOT required to read these during the summer—however—if your schedule next year is demanding, you can get a head start since you NOW know the requirements.


    1. How to Read Literature Like a Professor—Thomas C. Foster – selected chapters (see reverse) due September 9 (ISBN 978-0-06-230167-3)
    1. The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien (only one paperback edition available) – due September 16
    2. Life of Pi – Yann Martel – due October 7 (ISBN-10: 9789156027328)
    3. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy – due November 11 Recommend Norton Edition (ISBN-10: 0393959031).
    4. She Stoops to Conquer -- Oliver Goldsmith – You are not required to read this book outside of class—but you should have a copy. We will cover it in December.  (Many inexpensive editions available as well as free text available online—if you want to print your own.)
    1. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver – due January 22 (ISBN-10: 9780061577079). This text is about 500 pages—start early if you can. (Currently only one paperback edition available.)
    1. King Lear or Othello – (Depending on your teacher) William Shakespeare– due March 9 Recommend Prestwick (FIRST CHOICE), Folger, or No Fear Shakespeare editions.
    2. Home Toni Morrison – due April 13 (Only one paperback edition available.)


    AP Lit Exam—Wednesday May 6.

    Don’t forget about the public library – they should have copies of all the texts. If you cannot annotate in the book itself, you should annotate on post-it notes or take notes on paper. Be sure to include page numbers on any notes so that you can easily reference the sections of the book. An annotation rubric is on the English department website.

    *****Novel due dates WILL NOT change in the event of school cancelations. *****

    For each of the following sets of questions, answer in complete sentences unless otherwise indicated.


    Assignment: How to Read Literature Like a Professor Assignment due September 9


    This submission may not exceed three (3) pages. Use Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, 1.5 line spacing.

    1. Read and annotate the chapters listed below from Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor.
    2. Write a one-paragraph summary of each chapter, highlighting the most important nuggets of your learning. To keep these short yet complete, you must use language carefully.
    3. For each chapter, find an example from literature or film (not one that’s provided in the chapter) that illuminates the topic presented in the chapter. Label and use bold font for your example to set it apart from your summary.


    Assigned Chapters:

    1. “Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)”
    2. “Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires”
    3. “When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare”
    4. “…Or the Bible”
    5. “It’s More Than just Rain or Snow”
    6. “Is That a Symbol?”
    7. “Geography Matters…”
    8. “…So Does Season”
    9. “Marked for Greatness”

    Interlude “One Story”

    1. “Don’t Read with Your Eyes”
    2. “Is He Serious? And Other Ironies”


    *You can read more of this very helpful book, but these are the chapters we want you to KNOW soon after we start school.

    Rubric: To earn full credit, responses must be:

    • Complete and thorough – responses address all parts of the assignment well (1-3 above)
    • Thoughtful – responses show evidence of mature reading, thinking and reflecting
    • Well-presented – responses reflect sophistication, are well-written and neat, typed or handwritten in blue or black ink
    • “Notes”-free—completed without evidence of Sparknotes, Cliff Notes or other such resources.
    • Collaboration-free—we will have plenty of opportunity for paired work; this is not one of them. Complete this assignment on your own.
    • Meets all requirements (including length) of the assignment


    If you have questions, please see or email Mr. Bills or Mrs. Thompson; we will periodically check our email this summer.


Last Modified on May 23, 2019