Ms. Desmond

AP English Language and Composition

Syllabus:  AP English Language and Composition

Course Objectives:

This course is organized according to the requirements and guidelines of the current AP English Language and Composition Course Description, which asks students to read critically, think analytically, and communicate clearly in both writing and speech.  The purpose of this course is to help students “write effectively and confidently in their college courses across the curriculum and their professional and personal lives”  (College Board, AP English Language and Composition Course Description, 2010, p. 7).  As a result, our texts, while primarily nonfiction, reflect a variety of subjects, genres, styles and time periods in order to provide students with the opportunity to engage with the intellectual debates that dominate academic and professional circles.


AP English Language and Composition is a college-level course examining rhetoric as “the art of finding and analyzing all the choices involving language that a writer, speaker, reader, or listener might make in a situation so that the text becomes meaningful, purposeful, and effective for readers or listeners in a situation”  (David Joliffe, former AP exam creator).   Such an analytical endeavor will also help students make meaningful choices in their own writing, as they craft and revise their own effective, engaged texts. The end result of this process will be students who are mature and sophisticated consumers and creators of a variety of texts.  By the end of the course, students will understand:

Grading System:

Tests/Timed Essays/Process Essays/Projects (60%): Students will complete a variety of primary assessments that will build the skills needed to be a successful college-level reader and writer.  These assessments will come in four types:

Quizzes (30 %):  Quizzes are used primarily to check for reading and basic understanding of a text.  Also, each marking period has at least one quiz on vocabulary from the readings. In addition each unit will have one quiz that focuses on rhetorical devices, mechanical concepts or syntax explored in the readings.

Daily Classwork (10%): Daily assignments consist of a variety of task.  Some of these tasks involve individual steps leading towards a larger product, such as plans, research, drafts and revisions for an essay.  Other tasks will focus on applying reading strategies to unpacking and analyzing a complex text.  Additional tasks consist of grammar reviews, vocabulary exercise, annotation of texts, and fluency writing.

Course Organization:

This course is organized into four themes—see syllabus below.

Each unit requires students to acquire and use rich vocabulary, to use standard English grammar, and to understand the importance of diction and syntax in an author’s style.  Therefore, students are expected to develop the following through reading, discussion and writing assignments:

For each reading assignment students must identify the following:

Required Summer Reading Texts:

Required Academic Year texts:

Marking Period 1—The Economy


Week 1— Introduction to Rhetoric

Week 2— Introduction to Close Reading

Week 3—Summer Reading Analysis

Week 4-9 – The Economy—What is the role of the economy in our everyday lives?


Barbara Ehrenriech, from Serving in Florida

Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal

Booker T. Washington, The Atlanta Exposition Address

Lars Eighner, On Dumpster Diving

Eric Schlosser, from In the Strawberry Fields

Matthew B. Crawford, The Case for Working with Your Hands

Wendell Berry, Waste

Phyllis Rose, Shopping and Other Spiritual Adventure in the World Today

Marge Piercy, To Be of Use (poem)

Visual Texts:

Jeff Parker, The Great GAPsby Society

Tom Tomorrow, This Modern World

Michael Moore, excerpts from Capitalism:  A Love Story

Lauren Greenfield, excerpts from The Queen of Versailles


Marking Period 2—Gender

Weeks 10-18: What is the impact of the gender roles that society creates and enforces?


Stephen Jay Gould, Women’s Brains

Virginia Woolf, Professions for Women

John and Abigail Adams, Letters

July Brady, I Want a Wife

Brent Staples, Just Walk on By, A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space

Judith Ortiz Cofer, The Myth of the Latin Woman:  I just Met a Girl Named Maria

Marge Piercy, Barbie Doll (poem)

Paul Theroux, Being a Man

Gretel Ehrlich, About Men

Rebecca Walker, Putting Down the Gun

Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky, Why Johnny Won’t Read

Visual Texts:

Charles LeBrun, Chancellor Seguier at the Entry of Louis the IIV into Paris in 1660 (painting)

Kehinde Wiley, The Chancellor Seguier on Horseback (painting)

Leonarde McCombe, Marlboro Man (photo)

Alain Berliner, excerpts from Ma Vie En Rose

Mira Barkhammer, excerpts from We are the Best!


Marking Period 3—Community

Week 19— Revisiting Close Reading

Weeks 20-27:  What is the relationship of the individual to the community?


Richard Rodriguez, Aria:  Memoir of A Bilingual Childhood

Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Henry David Thoreau, Where I Lived and What I Lived For

Ellen Goodman, The Family That Stretches (Together)

Lori Arviso Alvord, Walking the Path between Worlds

Robert D. Putnam, Health and Happiness

Scott Brown, Facebook Friendonomics

Sherry Turkle, Alone Together

Malcolm Gladwell, Small Chanage:  Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted

Andrew Carnegie, from The Gospel of Wealth

Bertrand Rusell, The Happy Life

Peter Singer, The Singer Solution to World Poverty

Christian Science Monitor Editorial Board, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and the Billionaire Challenge

Der Speigel Online, Negative Reaction to Charity Campaign

Aurora Levins Morales, Child of the Americas

Visual Texts:

Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want (painting)

Roz Chast, The Last Thanksgiving (cartoon)

Nissan Motor Company, The Black Experience is Everywhere (advertisement)

Sean Penn, excerpts Into the Wild


Marking Period 4—Popular Culture

To what extent does pop culture reflect our society’s values?


James McBride, Hip Hop Planet

Mark Twain, Corn-Pone Opinions

David Denby, High School Confidential:  Notes on Teen Movies

Robin Givhan, An Image a Little Too Carefully Coordinated

Steven Johnson, Watching TV Makes You Smarter

Daniel Harris, Celebrity Bodies

Chuck Klosterman, MY Zombie, Myself:  Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead

Hans Ostrom, Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley in Heaven (poem)

Thomas Friedman, The Revolution is U.S.

Heather Havrilesky, Beseiged by “Friends”

Deirdre Straughan, Cultural Hegemony:  Who's Dominating Whom?

Josef Joffe, The Perils of Soft Power

Joseph S. Nye Jr., The U.S. Can Reclaim “Smart Power”

Hans Ostrom, Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley in Heaven (poem)

Visual Texts:

Andy Warhol, Myths (painting)

Mark Tansey, The Innocent Eye Test (painting)