AP English Literature
On-Line for the 2017-2018 School Year
Teacher: Maya Inspektor
Course description: This highly interactive college-level course is designed to prepare students for the AP English Literature and Composition exam in May. It will push students to read imaginative literature (novels, poetry, and plays) closely and deeply. We will explore the way that writers manipulate their readers and seek to recognize the way that historical and social context impacts writing. We will actively engage with literature on every level and tease apart its complexity, considering (for example) diction, style, theme, imagery, symbolism, and tone.
I have selected books that I feel can be appreciated even more upon rereading and that can be used fruitfully in open-response questions on the AP exam. These range from 16th century to 20th century works and involve some mature situations and themes, although I have tried to avoid works with explicit content or vulgarity. We will also study a range of poetry and short stories, using Perrine's Literature as well as online sources. In addition, students will form independent book clubs to discuss high-quality literature they select in informal discussion groups.
Students should anticipate reading 40-70 pages each week and writing one essay (or the equivalent) weekly. Students will also participate in interactive discussions of their readings throughout the week, composing responses to discussion questions and commenting on their classmates' responses, and they will generally write a short reply to a "Morning Message" each day. Finally, they will engage in targeted test preparation for the AP English Literature and Composition exam. I also want students to come to understand what college literature study might involve, so we'll study "real" literary criticism about the works that we read, entering this way into the broader literary conversation occurring all over the world.
The writing assignments students will complete during this course vary. They will include informal journal entries, discussion question responses, formal analytic essays, poetry, and even parody. I will also emphasize peer review and the writing process, as students bring their essays through multiple drafts and hone their ability to write organized, creative analysis. During the fall semester, students will write original short stories inspired by stories they studied, and during the spring semester, they will write an entry into the Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest (read winning entries by two of my students here!) and compose an extended novel comparison paper drawing upon literary criticism and expressing their own analysis. Of course, a major focus of our study involves writing exam-style essays, and I help students develop mature, complex, and non-formulaic (but organized) essay style.
While our primary focus will be on the analysis of literature, this course is well suited to students who also love to write creatively. Throughout the year, I will draw connections to creative writing and help students come to understand the process of professional writers. Students will also have the option of sharing their creative writing for peer review under the Writer's Corner portion of the web site.
Ultimately, I hope students leave this course with a zest for uncovering the many layers of meaning in the fiction they read and an appreciation for the music and meaning of poetry. They will gain not only an arsenal of literary terms, but also a sense for the patterns that underlie the books they read. Literature throughout the ages is an interwoven web, and I look forward to exploring this web with my students.
My teaching philosophy is rooted in the idea that classwork should have a purpose, and I am happy to accommodate students whose needs are better served by alterations to the class workload.
I also hope my students do well on the AP exam, and in the past this has certainly been the case-- in most of my past classes, fully 90% of students have received grades of 4 or 5 on the AP exam.
Who should apply: Students with a love for literature who would like to invest time and energy into pondering the deeper meaning and construction of the texts they read. Students should come in with the ability to write with few grammatical errors, but they do not need to have had extensive prior formal literature study or extensive experience writing formal essays. They should, however, come in with extensive experience as avid readers! I find that a wide range of students do well in my class, but that students who are internally motivated and self-disciplined generally do better. Students who need constant oversight and supervision may be better served by a more conventional class setting.
Note: this course is open to 11th and 12th graders as well as 10th graders who can present excellent credentials, such as previous AP exam or SAT scores. I will only consider AP English Literature applications from 9th grade students after consultation by e-mail to determine whether this course is a good fit.
- Summer Reading: How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines, Thomas C. Foster. ISBN: 006000942X
- Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense. Essentially any edition will be fine, but all of the page numbers I supply will be from the 9th edition. I also referred to the 4th and 6th editions in crafting my syllabus. Students using other editions may need to rely on web texts (which I provide) for more of the readings. Used editions are available for just a few dollars each! Note: we will start the start the year with an intensive, month-long unit of short stories drawn from Perrine's Literature, so please buy this anthology before the course begins.
- Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (any edition; free e-texts are available online)
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (any edition)
- The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams-- No need to purchase! This play should be included in the drama section of Perrine's Literature.
- Persuasion, by Jane Austen (any edition; free e-texts are available online)
- Othello, the Moor of Venice, by William Shakespeare No need to purchase! This play should be included in the drama section of Perrine's Literature.
- Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (any edition; free e-texts are available online.)
- In addition, students will read five other AP-level works of their choice, discussing these works with small groups of classmates. Parents are welcome to excuse students from this aspect of the course if the students conduct enough high-level reading outside the class.
- Grammar Smart: A Guide to Perfect Usage (While I will not assign work from this text, I strongly recommend it to students who need to brush up on the finer points of grammatical writing. It's excellent prep for the writing section of the SAT.)
Course fee: $650 until July 1st; $675 afterward.
Registration deadline: Applications will be accepted through August 1st or until the class fills up. (Typically my class fills up in March or April, so don't delay applying.)
Tech needs: Full web and printer access (broadband Internet recommended but not required). Students must be able to view Adobe PDF files. It is useful but not essential for students to own a digital camera or scanner.
Course meeting times: Students will have assignments due every weekday on our course website. This course has no required live components; work can be completed at any time on the day it is due. I am happy to accommodate students who need to work ahead or who face particularly busy times during their school year.
Course fee: $650 if payment is received before July 1st; $675 after July 1st.
Length of course: Monday, August 28, 2017 to the Friday following the AP English Literature exam in the spring.
Breaks: There will be no assignments due on any U.S. National Holidays. Students will have one week off for Thanksgiving (Nov. 20 - 26) and two weeks off for Christmas / New Years (Dec. 18 - Jan. 1). In addition, they will have "working breaks" in the fall and the spring semesters, during which time they will have one or two major assignments due but no daily assignments. These "working breaks" will be from October 1 - 14 and March 26 - April 8.
Instructor Qualifications: This is my tenth year teaching online AP English Literature and AP English Language. I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, majoring in English nonfiction writing and Psychology. I obtained a Masters of Education in Secondary English from Carlow University, studying homeschooling English programs for my masters thesis. I taught at a private school in Pittsburgh for two years, taught creative writing classes at the School of Advanced Jewish Studies in Pittsburgh, and served as an SAT tutor for a major test preparation company. I live in Israel with my husband and young daughter and son, which means I can literally grade while you sleep, because I'm seven hours ahead of you. :) As a past participant in many online AP courses (including AP English Literature), I'm thrilled to have returned as a teacher!
Section 2: This year, I will accept approximately 35 students into my section of AP English Literature. A section teacher-- Mr. Tynan Stewart-- will grade the work for approximately 10 more students, for a total class size of approximately 45 students. The students that Mr. Stewart accepts will participate fully in the class as a whole, complete my assignments, learn from my general instruction, and interact with all of their classmates (in my section and in Mr. Stewart's section). Mr. Stewart will be responsible for grading the work from the students in his section and for monitoring their progress.
This year, we will determine admission to the two sections by a simple procedure. I (Mrs. Inspektor) will handle all admissions, and the first 35 students I accept will be automatically admitted into my section. The next 10 students that I accept will be in Mr. Stewart's section, though they will be moved to my section in the order in which they pay for the class, should space open up. (If you would like to be placed in Mr. Stewart's section even if space remains in my section, let me know.) When I reply to your application, I'll let you know where you stand in terms of admission to one section or the other.
Mr. Stewart is a top former student and former TA for AP English Literature. As a TA, he stood out for his passion for literature and devotion to helping students succeed, and I still found myself quoting from his work for years afterward! He is now a graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in English Literature and Cognitive Science, all while also competing as a collegiate swimmer. While in still in college, Mr. Stewart helped teammates navigate their Freshman English courses, often working closely with them on essay drafts. He is currently working with a nonprofit magazine, the Boston Review, helping to edit essays on poetry, literature and culture before their publication. Mr. Stewart is also planning to begin graduate school in the fall of 2017 where he will be pursuing a Master's degree in journalism. Finally, he already owns more books than he can can possibly read in the near-future, but continues (for some reason) to frequent bookstores.
You can contact Mr. Stewart directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, but ALL applications should be sent to my e-mail address: email@example.com.
Details: I am happy to respond to any and all questions about the class. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: my spam filter occasionally diverts e-mails from certain addresses coming to this account. If you don't hear back from me within a few days, please try sending a message to email@example.com or contact me via PA Homeschoolers.) You can contact Ty Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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