Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What dreams may come...

Before we finish with the Scarlet Letter and start Hamlet, we will have a little test. It's not a big test. It's actually more like a quiz. It's so small it's embarrassing that it is for AP Lit, but given the fact you have college essays, a Scarlet Letter essay, and Hamlet about to begin (get your books if you're not checking out from our library), I thought a wee little test would be more appropriate than a BIG test. :)

Format: Choose 5 of 10 provided quotes and discuss (1) who said it (2) when it was said (what was the situation), and (3) what is the significance/meaning/importance to the ENTIRE WORK. Also discuss if the quote relates to character, theme, symbolism, irony, foreshadowing, imagery, etc. 
See. Little. Tiny. Wee. 

Today is Wednesday. Let's Work on essays tomorrow (Thursday). Then let's do the wee itty-bitty quiz/test on Friday. We'll push starting Hamlet back to Monday. But when we start, we're going to really move. Intro. Overview. Get into the text! Soliloquy analyses. Performances? Arguments. Oh boy! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Character and Bartleby, the Scrivener

For class tomorrow, read the character section of the green book, pp 117-122. Then read Bartleby, the Scrivener on pages 124-150.

Here is the character section.
Here is the "short" story. That link was having trouble. If it does again, here it is in pdf.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Setting and IND-AFF

Sarajevo, capital of  Bosnia and Herzegovina
(NOT Native American) ;)
Read the Setting section of the green book (pp162-164) and the short story IND-AFF from the same section (pp 171-178).

If you don't have your green book yet, read the selection here courtesy of CamScanner and a too nice Mr. Giddings.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

AP Lit Summer Assignment and Information

A Few Thoughts
Welcome to AP English Literature and Composition! This is the capstone class of your study of English (reading and writing) at Fife. It will attempt to bring together all that you've learned along the way, celebrating humanity's attempt to describe, explore, and chronicle what it means to be human. Of course, we'll also be prepping our skills for the AP test in May, but I trust that won't get in the way too much.

As in AP English Language and Composition, we will endeavor to reach and master the AP College Board standards. Those of you who've been in the program your first two years at FHS should be well on your way to doing so already. The summer assignment is simply a means to shake off the summer doldrums and re-sharpen our academic prowess. It's not a test. Don't obsess. Be thoughtful, but don't obsess.

Summer Assignment
Step one: read good books*
  • Re-read Gatsby, Huck Finn, or a book you read for Pre-AP: Mockingbird, Great Expectations, Macbeth, Old Man and the Sea, Kite Runner/Power of One, or Lord of the Flies
  • Read one other good book. If you need help distinguishing "good books," pick one from this list: The books we read in class this year will be taken from that list as well. If you happen to pick one we will read, no harm done. If you'd rather read something we won't, this is the likely list (subject to adjustment, and it is highly likely we won't get to all of these): The CrucibleHamletHeart of Darkness, Midsummer Night's DreamThe Scarlet LetterFrankensteinTheir Eyes Were Watching God, Things Fall ApartPride and PrejudiceOryx & CrakeDeath of a Salesman, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and 1984 or Brave New World. (If you're buying, the books in bold type are the ones we actually got to last year. I'm going to try hard to make sure Frankenstein gets in there too. Oryx & Crake and Pride and Prejudice will be part of our novel project in the spring.)
Step two: a) write about the books as you read them, and b) write a nice substantive piece (300 words +) about each book once you finish reading it.

Further details on step two: annotate in the margins, open yourself to the ideas of the book and elaborate on them in your own reading journals. If you would like more formal writing practice, try to break down a few of the key devices the author uses (symbolism, imagery, dialog, foreshadowing, narrative structure, etc) to convey certain themes (unrequited love, the inexorable passage of time, the simultaneous beauty and ugliness of human existence, etc). Don't stress about the details of "What does he want? Oh my gosh, what am I supposed to write? What does he mean when he says to write about the books?!" Just start a conversation with the book. Pretend the book is your buddy and you have some questions to ask it and comments to make to it. Nothing formal is required, but try not to be boring and waste everyone's time by making this writing portion busywork. Be evocative. If you'd like, you can be creative. You can "interview" one of the characters and make up the responses yourself. Write a poem inspired by the book and write about the connections you made. Ask yourself through writing why you chose this book and what you think of it as a piece of literature. How did the book impact you? What questions do the characters, situations, and themes raise in your mind? Did you like it? If you do not have anything to say in response to these or any other questions, you did not actually read the book. You may have run your eyes over the pages, and even experienced a bit of story, but you didn't read it.**

Further, further details about step two: For the re-read (Gatsby, Huck Finn, Mockingbird, Great Expectations, Macbeth, Old Man and the Sea, Kite Runner/Power of One, or Lord of the Flies), focus your journaling on your new understandings, noticings, and insights into the novel. Literature is greater than just a novel largely because they yield up additional rewards upon repeated reading. This is your opportunity to begin to experience that.

Step three:
  • If you did not take my AP Lang class last year, email a brief introduction of yourself that includes your full name, why you're taking this class, the books you're reading for the summer assignment, and a bit about yourself as a learner to  
  • If you did take my course last year, still write to me (I've missed you!). In your email, talk about why you're taking this course and what you hope to get from it. Talk about how you think you may have grown over this summer as a person and a learner. Also, let me know the books you're reading for the summer assignment. 
  • This email is DUE a week BEFORE school begins. 
Highly Recommended: If you aren't very familiar with the biblical stories, you might want to take care of that. Biblical allusions are important to much of western literature, of which we will read a fair bit. Good news is that it's pretty easy to shore that up. I highly recommend reading the books Genesis, Exodus, and one of the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, or Luke) in the Bible. Some of you may have your favorite translation(s), but we aren't reading the Bible for devotional reasons, but academic ones. It would benefit you most to read those three books in the King James Version (not the New King James) in order to help you pick up the vocabulary and cadences of 16th/17th century language.

Deadline: Tuesday, 6 September 2016 bring a hard copy of your books and all of your writing on the books to class. On the 3rd or 4th day of class, you will be asked to share some of the insights you made in re-reading a novel you'd studied in a previous class.

Buying Books: Many of you will want to buy your own novels. The first book you should buy is The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature 8th Edition (ISBN # 978-0-312-47411-9). It's available through Amazon at the link above for very cheap (Starting at $0.01 plus $3.99 shipping!). Also, pick up a copy of The Scarlet Letter ASAP.

We will use this beginning the first week of school, the second at the latest depending on what the first day is like this year (you ASB people probably know already--if it's like last year, maybe Monday of the the second week). This will be where most of our short stories and poetry come from, and maybe one of our plays time permitting. It also has a figurative ton of extra helps and explanations in it that many of you will find very useful. 
Any questions? Just want to chat about books? About the class? Email
No really, you can email me about (almost) anything you'd like. Fear not young padawan. ;)

See you in September!
As Fitzgerald once wrote,

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

* Steps for the summer assignment adapted from my esteemed colleague Ms. Robison.
** Remember not to obsess. I know some of you just thought to yourselves, "Hmmm, I wonder if I should just do all of the suggestions just to be on the safe side." Stop it. Focus, but be thoughtful and just engage with the books.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Story and Society Presentation

Work in pairs to put together a presentation about a story you care about that examines its relationship to society. To do in your presentation:
  • Tell us about the story. Not everyone will be familiar with the story. Bring us up to speed. Even if we are familiar, your summary will highlight elements of the story you care about.
  • Explain the things in society that the story is responding to in some way.
  • Explain how your story responds to the things you identified in society.
  • Conclude with how this story is important. If it’s been around a long time, why? If it hasn’t, do you think it will? Why?
Share it with each other so you can both edit and share it. Class presentations will begin on the 6th of June. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Finish reading Sweat and complete the following questions for discussion in class on Monday.

  1. Discuss the meaning of the title from the perspective of the biblical account of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden? Does this frame of reference help readers to understand key patterns in the story?
  2. Discuss the symbolic meanings of Sykes’s whip and the snake.
  3. Why is Sykes so abusive towards Delia?
  4. Discuss the role of the men at the store.
  5. Why does Delia not warn Sykes that the rattlesnake is in the bedroom? How do readers reconcile her behavior with the image of her as a good Christian?
  6. What is the effect for the reader of Hurston switching back and forth between the colloquial speech of her characters and standard English (Remember Twain in Huckleberry Finn?)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

To Do Friday

These are as they were written for the sub. It's getting late and I want to go home, so I'm not going to change the voice to fit you as the audience. Perhaps it can be a sneaky object lesson in how a misplaced voice can fall flat. ;)

  • Please take roll
They are discussing in small groups today.

  • First give them 10 minutes to discuss Act 1 Scene 3 lines 56-87
    • Look for tone, famous lines, type of advice. How do these things help characterize Polonius?
  • Then 15-20 minutes to discuss Act 1 Scene 3 lines 1-55 and 90-145
    • How does Laertes treat Ophelia?
    • How does Polonius treat Ophelia?
    • What do Ophelia’s reactions to their advice tell us about her and her character?
    • Debate the question: Is Ophelia a participant or a pawn? Explain and discuss your reasons.
  • For 10 minutes, discuss in what ways the beliefs about ghosts on the board might have influenced their reactions to the ghost and its invitation to Hamlet.
  • Finish up with discussing the allusions and implications of Hamlet’s meeting with the  ghost in scene 5. Did this really happen? Is Hamlet going mad, or is he in his right mind? How can you tell?
  • If they move through this more quickly than planned, they should read Act 2, which is due on Monday.