AP English Literature
On-Line for the 2020-2021 School Year
Teacher: Maya Inspektor
I'm now accepting applications to the 2020-21 AP English literature class!
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 literary argument 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 50-80 pages each week and writing one essay (or the equivalent) weekly, as well as numerous shorter responses. 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 the 2015 winning entries by my students here, the 2017 winning entries by my students here, the 2018 winning entry by one of my students here, and the 2019 winning entries here (first and third place; the third place student was in Mr. Stewart's section)) 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, and I'll even ask students to write an original short story and some original works of poetry. 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: I strongly discourage students from taking this class concurrently with another formal English class. This class involves a great deal of reading and writing, and I find that the quality of student work (and the amount that they learn from EITHER class) decreases if students are overloaded.
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 recommend English SAT scores of at least 600 as a prerequisite for the class.) 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.
- A novel by Jane Austen, to be determined-- I'll announce this one after the 2021 JASNA essay contest has been released. (If possible, I'll even teach several Austen novels at once and allow students to choose!)
- 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.)
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: $725 if payment is received before July 1st; $775 after July 1st.
Length of course: Monday, August 31, 2020 to Friday, May 7, 2021.
Breaks: There will be no assignments due on any U.S. National Holidays. Students will have one week off for fall break, one week off for Thanksgiving break, two weeks off for Christmas / New Years, and one week off for spring break.
Instructor Qualifications: This is my thirteenth year teaching online AP English Literature and AP English Language through AP Homeschoolers online classes. 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 master's thesis. In addition, I 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, and I've recently had the pleasure of teaching a bunch of little Israeli kids how to read in English. I have always loved writing nonfiction and once served as memoir editor of the University of Pittsburgh's undergraduate nonfiction magazine, Collision. My husband and I lived in Israel for 11 years and now live in the Czech Republic with our daughter and son. As a past participant in many online AP courses, I'm thrilled to have returned as a teacher!
Section 2: This year, I will accept approximately 25 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 35 students. (These exact numbers are subject to change.) 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 30 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, and this is his fourth year co-teaching this class. As TA and now as a co-teacher, Mr. Stewart stands out for his passion for literature and devotion to helping students succeed, and I still found myself quoting from his work for years after he exited my class! 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, and he recently finished a master's program in journalism. 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. 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. If you don't hear back from me within two business days, your e-mail may be stuck in my spam filter, so you can try e-mailing me at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org instead.
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