Camden Hills Regional High School

Home of the Windjammers

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition
Mr. Doubleday
Room 233 - Period

Course Description
This full-year course is designed to provide the student with college-level study; it is organized as a seminar in which students give presentations based on a close reading of textual and critical material. Requirements include timed, in-class and untimed, out-of-class Interpretive essays; through these, the students demonstrate a mastery of assigned reading. Special focus is on masterworks in fiction, drama, and poetry. In-depth analysis of material prepares the student for the College Board Advanced Placement Examination in English Literature and Composition given each May, which is required of each student. (Note: There is a fee charged for this exam. Financial assistance is available in some instances.).

Open to juniors and seniors who have successfully completed, usually at the honors level, Sophomore English, American Studies, American Literature/Junior Narrative, Exposition and Research, and/or AP Language and Composition. Entrance into the AP English class in the fall is contingent upon the satisfactory completion of the required summer reading and writing assignments

Summer Reading Assignment

Students who are candidates for AP English Literature and Composition are expected to complete a summer reading and writing project. 

Summer Reading Required Texts:

1.Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) Thomas Hardy (Norton Critical Edition ISBN 978—0-393-95903-1) or Crime and Punishment (1866) Feodor Dostoevsky (Norton Critical Edition ISBN 978-0-393-95623-8) or Emma (1816) Jane Austen (Modern Library Classics ISBN 0-375-75742-2)

2. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1599-1601) William Shakespeare (Folger Shakespeare Library ISBN978-0-7434-7712-3)

3. Break Blow Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems by Camille Paglia (Vintage Books ISBN 978-0-375-72539-5)

1. Reading, Reflecting, Analyzing, and Writing Assignment for the Novel: Out-of-Class Essay

Emma, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Crime and Punishment are nineteenth-century novels that are considered classics of world literature. Reading one (or all of them) will provide you with challenging and rewarding experiences.

After reading Emma, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, or Crime and Punishment, locate the following internet site: Read through the list of free-response prompts from the AP English Literature and Composition exams (1970-2011), choose one of the prompts that best fits the novel you have read this summer, and write a three-to-four page analytical essay. Remember to state a thesis, to develop and support your ideas with specific references, examples, and passages from the text, to use MLA-formatted parenthetical citations, and to include an MLA-formatted works-cited page on a separate piece of paper stapled at the end of your essay.

2.Reading, Reflecting, Analyzing, and Writing Assignment for Break, Blow Burn: Out-of-Class Essay

Break Blow Burn is a collection of forty-three poems, each of which is followed by an explication and analysis of the text of the poem by Camille Paglia. The poems appear in chronological order; I suggest you read the collection of poems starting at the beginning. You may not agree with Paglia’s commentaries on the poems, but they aren’t dull. 

After reading Break, Blow Burn, choose two (2) poems from this collection on a similar theme or topic: love, death, war, sex, nature, divinity, art, etc. Write a three-to-four page essay in which you compare and contrast under common subtopics how the theme is handled in each poem. Be sure to discuss in your essay and assess Paglia’s commentary on the poems you have chosen to analyze. 

DO NOT use internet sites such as to formulate your ideas. I am interested in your understanding of these works of literature. If you feel that you must use an internet site as a source for ideas in this or any other assignment, be sure to cite ideas according to MLA format. Otherwise you run the risks and consequences of plagiarism (see the CHRHS (Dis)Honesty Procedure in the CHRHS Student Handbook. The essays for Emma, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, or Crime and Punishment and for Break Blow Burn are due at the beginning of the second-class meeting of the first quarter.

I will not accept late work, except under the most unusual of circumstances. Incomplete or undone assignments usually signal one or two things:

  1. You are not committed to spending the time necessary for this course.
  2. You are likely not to complete other class assignments.

3. Reading, Reflecting, Analyzing, and Writing Assignment for Hamlet: Timed, In-class Essay

Reading Hamlet certainly presents challenges and rewards as well. Before reading the Folger Library text of the play, I suggest you become familiar with the plot by reading the plot summary provided by SparkNotes or Wikipedia; then watch the 1990-1991 film version directed by Franco Zeffirelli withMel Gibson, Glenn Close, Alan Bates (available at HAV); then read the Folger Library text of the play; and then watch the 1996 film version directed by Kenneth Branagh. Embrace your inner dweebness by throwing a Hamlet party with other students in the AP class. 

Shortly after returning to school in August and September, you will be asked to write a timed, in-class essay on Hamlet in response to one of the prompts from a released AP English Literature and Composition exam.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 763-3630 (home during summer vacation), 236-7800 ext 222 (during the school year), (home; I usually check this daily), or (school; I rarely read school email during the summer).

Here are some other well-written and enjoyable contemporary novels and works of nonfiction to consider reading this summer or in the future. I also encourage you to subscribe to The Writer’s Almanac (it’s free): 


Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)


Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997 National Book Award for Fiction)

Empire Falls by Richard Russo (2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

Any of the following novels by John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany or The World According to Garp or Cider House Rules

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck

Minaret: A Novel by Leila Aboulela

Away by Amy Bloom

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

Silence by Shusaku Endo

Things Fall Apart  by Chinua Achebe

The Quiet American by Graham Greene

The River Below by Francois Chent

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

The Book of Job translated by Stephen Mitchell

Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman (graphic novel)

War’s End: Profiles from Bosnia 1995-1996 by Joe Sacco (graphic novel)

Stitches: A Memior by David Small(graphic novel)

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Lying Awake by Mark Salzman

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

Mendel’s Dwarf by Simon Mawer

A Summerof Hummingbirds: Love, Art, Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, & Martin Johnson Heade by Christopher Benfrey (nonfiction)

This Republic of Suffering: Death and The American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust (nonfiction)

Grading Policy:

Essential Concepts/Questions:

As a starting point in their examination of any work of prose or poetry, students should be able to identify speaker, audience, situation, and setting: 

 In whose voice are we hearing the words? 
• To whom is the speaker speaking? 
 Where (in time, place, social context, class) is the speaker as he or she is speaking? 

As students identify or begin to identify those elements, they can begin to examine the style of the piece. For example:

 What is the level of diction? 
• Does the author depend upon particular details to achieve his or her effect? 
• On what allusions might the piece depend? 
• What kind of syntax does the author use? 
• Does the syntax vary? If so, what is the effect of that variety? 
• What is the effect of any repetition in the piece? 
,What is the author’s attitude toward what he or she is writing about? In other words, what is the tone of the piece? 

Intended Course Outcomes:

 Students will acquire knowledge and skills they need to score a 3 or higher on the AP English Literature and Composition exam.
• Students will evaluate the effect of literary works on our society, both past and present.
• Students will apply various critical approaches to selected works of literature.
• Students will understand and interpret selected works of literature in their historical and philosophical contexts.
• Students will analyze literature both for author craft/literary elements as well as broader thematic significance.
• Students will develop an effective use of rhetoric, showing command of logical organization, a variety of sentence structures, and an impressive vocabulary.
• Students will use illustrative details and carefully selected textual evidence to support their written arguments.
• Students will consistently display nuanced, insightful, creative, critical thinking.
• Students will acquire new vocabulary in the context of the literature.

Unit Outline/Learning Strands

Writing instruction includes on-demand, timed and out-of-class essays. Students will be required to document their sources using MLA format.

Assessments include quizzes, tests, essays, PowerPoint and Keynote presentations, other projects, and midterm and final exams.

Students evaluate literary texts within their thematic, historical and/or cultural contexts. Students are expected to read and analyze literature and to convey their ideas through class discussion and written and oral presentations. Possible texts include (but are not limited to) the following works:

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Reading List 

  • Break, Blow Burn Camille Paglia
  • Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors William Shakespeare
  • Perrine’s Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry
  • Medea Euripedes
  • Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
  • Candide Voltaire
  • Joseph Andrews Henry Fielding
  • Emma Jane Austen
  • Crime and Punishment Feodor Dostoevsky
  • A Doll House Henrik Ibsen
  • Lord Jim Joseph Conrad
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge Thomas Hardy
  • The Trial Franz Kafka
  • The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
  • Waiting for Godot Samuel Beckett
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf Edward Albee
  • The House on Mango Street Sandra Cisneros
  • Let the Great World Spin Colum McCann