AP English: Language and Composition
Chinquapin Preparatory School

“The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others.”– Leo C. Rosten
“Life beats down and crushes the soul, but art reminds you that you have one.”
-Stella Adler

OVERARCHING THEME: What is the human condition?

This class is a study of language in all forms. We will begin with a discussion of the elements that authors use to rhetorically manipulate an audience (tone, syntax, diction, imagery, symbolism, etc). Then we will work to analyze what an author’s purpose is and how to discern what audience they are targeting, and we will use these close language studies to improve our own language through emulation and adaptation. In all cases, the end goal is for a student to intelligently analyze and use rhetoric and rhetorical techniques to be able to comprehend and comment on any text they come in contact with.

Students must come into the class expecting an intensive writing experience. They will be required to complete in-class timed essays, out of class revised and polished works, reflective writing, journaling, peer- and self-edits, research projects, and a hodgepodge of other written and spoken activities designed to increase their lexicon of rhetorical techniques.

Summer Reading: A History of the World in Six Glasses and Beloved

Writing the Australian Crawl, excerpts, (Stafford), The University of Michigan Press, 1978.
The Writing Life, excerpts, (Dillard), Harper and Row, 1989.
Teaching a Stone to Talk, excerpts, (Dillard), Harper and Row, 1982.
Writing America,
Perrine's Sound and Sense, selected poetry (Arp, Johnson), Thomson Wadsworth, 2005
100 Great Essays, selected essays (Diyanni), Penguin Academics, 2013.
Hot Words for the SAT, (Carnevale), Barron's Educational Series, 2010.
Cracking the AP English Language and Composition Exam, (Hartzell), Random House, 2013
The Norton Anthology of Poetry
They Say, I Say, excerpts, (Graff, Berkenstein), W.W. Norton and Company, 2010.
A Clockwork Orange (Burgess), WW Norton and Company, 1962.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Franklin), Dover Publications, 1996.
Civil Disobedience, excerpts, (Thoreau),Dover Publications, 1993.
Candide (Voltaire), Dover Publications, 1991.
In Cold Blood (Capote), Vintage International, 1965.
Heart of Darkness (Conrad), Dover Publications, 1990.

First Couple of Weeks (or so)

  • How to write in the style of the author (Sandra Cisneros' “My Name” from The House on Mango Street) for the purpose of understanding style, syntax, figurative language, etc.
  • Re-visit Voltaire’s statement; re-write argument
  • “The Pixar Theory” – how to play detective and make connections
  • Review of main arguments in summer readings; presentations?
  • Independent Reading List
  • Begin reading A Clockwork Orange (books 1 and 2)

First Quarter

  • Summer Reading
  • Writing in author’s style
  • Writing America, chapters 1-2
  • Teaching Rhetorical Analysis (What is Rhetoric? What is rhetorical analysis? Divisions of rhetoric, key terms in RA: Exigence, Audience, Purpose, Appeals, Figures of Speech, Imagery, Syntax, Diction, and their functions)
  • Selected Essays – the rhetorical argument/photos/quotations
  • Scoring Guidelines/Student Samples
  • Substantial writing assignments: Diagnostic (argument), Analysis I (main idea construction), Analysis II (Main idea, appeals, and organization/structure/form
  • Timed writing prompts
  • Independent Reading
  • Text: A Clockwork Orange

Second Quarter

  • Chapters 3 and 4 of Writing America
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Essays/photos/quotations
  • More substantial writing assignments: Argument I, Analysis III—Timed writing and then revised (Main idea, appeals, organization/structure/form, and one other surface feature element—diction, syntax, imagery/allusion, figurative language), Argument II
  • Timed writing prompts: two Synthesis Essays
  • Independent Reading
  • Research Paper (p. 11of Handbook, Syllabus 4)
  • Text: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Third Quarter

  • Chapters 5 and 6 of Writing America
  • Selected Essays/photos/quotations
  • Key Terms, Rhetorical Modes, Rhetorical Fallacies
  • Paper: Candide
  • Test examples/Student Samples
  • Timed Writing Prompts
  • Substantial writing assignments: Argument III—Timed writing and then revised; Analysis IV (full-fledged—student choice of what to focus on, as on the exam); Synthesis I (two texts synthesized)
  • Independent Reading
  • Text: Candide, In Cold Blood

Fourth Quarter

  • Chapter 7 of Writing America
  • Multiple Choice practice exams (two)
  • Selected Essays/photos/quotations
  • Paper: In Cold Blood
  • Narrative Essay Assignment
  • Test examples/Student Samples
  • Timed Writing Prompts
  • Substantial writing assignments: Argument IV, Synthesis II—Timed writing and then revised—at least three sources synthesized
  • Independent Reading
  • Final touches; review for the exam
  • Text: In Cold Blood and Heart of Darkness


Homework – 15%
Participation – 15%
Quizzes – 20%
Projects (including all writing prompts, papers, and major/minor projects, including presentations, etc) – 50%

Other Nuts and Bolts

  • Why the 5-paragraph essay doesn’t work (usually)
  • You need to have an opinion – and your opinion needs to be grounded, not baseless
  • Exigence: what’s in your crawl? What are your needs, gaps?
  • This is AP, but it doesn’t always have to look like an “AP class”
  • What do you need to change? How will you change? (Without change there is no growth) How can I help you to change? Help me to help you.
  • Keep in mind: however well you do on the AP Exam, as long as you work hard in this class and are an active listener/reader/writer, you will do well in all of your college classes (well, I don’t know about Stats). Also keep in mind that your grade in this class may not reflect the grade you get on the AP score, for better or worse.
  • Don’t be shy. I don’t bark, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. Odds are, you will need my help somewhere along the way. I am available whenever – see me about a good time to meet and I will make time to meet you. It looks like I will be in the library on most Mondays for evening study hall. I live in Residence L, and you can knock on our door up until 8 p.m.; after that, boys, please text me and I can meet with you in the library or in the US dorms; girls, text or chat or send an email to me and I’ll try to read them as frequently as is humanly possible)
  • Do not be intimidated in this class. I know that sounds easier said than done, but you were chosen for a reason. If I had any doubts about you being in this class, I would have left you off of the list. Likewise, please participate as much as possible, even if it means just asking questions. That is how you get true value from an education.