AP Literature and Composition
Course Expectations & Tentative Syllabus
Mrs. Melissa Wilcox
Email: mwilcox@ndsion.edu
Gmail: mwilcox@ndsion.edu
Website: http://wilcoxenglishwiki.wikispaces.com/
School phone: 816.942.3282 ext. 1159

“What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the [person] who reads it towards the condition of the [person] who wrote.”
-E.M. Forster

Course Philosophy/Description
Your quest for excellent literature and your astute writing skills have lead you here to AP Literature and Composition. The primary goal of this class is to further develop your abilities as an independent reader and writer by giving you a college-level course during your senior year. If you successfully complete the AP Exam in May, there is a strong possibility of earning college credit (this of course depends on your college’s policies). As this is a rigorous college-level course, the requirements will be demanding. The reading, albeit rewarding, is also very complex, challenging, and frequent. The writing, for the most part, is analytical and will require critical and independent thinking. Classroom discussion and active participation are vital and serve as a means of developing your theories about literature. This year we will read both traditional and contemporary prose, drama, and poetry. Take charge of your learning, read actively and closely, and attend class each day ready to discuss your insights and revelations. I hope you are ready for the challenges that await you and bring your best effort to the classroom daily. If you engage deeply in your learning and fulfill your responsibilities in the class, the grade you deserve will follow.

  • Students will read challenging works of recognized literary merit;
  • Students will read independently and actively (critically, closely, and carefully);
  • Students will write in a variety of forms, for a variety of purposes;
  • Students will write intelligent and insightful responses/analyses of literature passages in both impromptu and prepared essays;
  • Students will articulate responses during small as well as large group discussion.


Summer Reading: How to Read Literature like a Professor by Thomas Foster. Hemingway short stories: “Soldier’s Home,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” & “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Old School by Tobias Wolff and The Round House by Louise Erdrich.

Writing: On Writing the College Application Essay

Literature: Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense 10th edition.
Major works include Wuthering Heights, Metamorphosis, As I Lay Dying, Beloved, Hamlet, A Doll House, “Trifles,” Atonement, Fences, Wit, and selected short stories (40-50) and poems (a number too high to count).

AP Practice: Cliff’s AP Literature and Composition

Types of Activities/Assessments

  • Reader Response—dialectical journal, annotating, reading log, questions, What Does Your Character Want?
  • Writing Portfolio
  • Voice Lessons—analysis of diction, detail, imagery, syntax, and tone
  • Poetry response/discussion (TPCASTT, etc)
  • In-class timed writings & practice AP tests
  • Other formal writings including a Comparison-Contrast Essay, Explication of a Poem, Character Analysis
  • Participation—group work, discussion, etc.
  • Socratic Seminars
  • Quizzes (check reading completion)
  • Reading—every night

Supplies Needed

  • 1-2” binder for this class or a composition notebook (optional)
  • Flash drive
  • College-rule loose leaf paper
  • Blue/black pens
  • Post-it notes

Guidelines & Procedures
Classroom Expectations
In order for you to attain the most from your classroom experience, the following rules, based on general courtesy and respect, will be enforced:

  • Respect the teacher, your classmates, the administration, and yourself;
  • Be on time and in your assigned seat by the time the bell rings;
  • Bring all necessary materials to class;
  • Proper manners, language and behavior are not only expected but required;
  • Technology devices will be allowed on an as-needed basis at my discretion (if I haven’t given permission, it’s best not to have it out).
  • Adhere to the uniform guidelines in and out of class during school hours;
  • With the exception of clear water bottles, please leave all other food and drink in your locker or cafeteria.

  • Assignments are due at the beginning of the hour, no exceptions.
  • Take responsibility for your learning. If an assignment is typed, please back up your files to a flash drive. Print hard copies of each typed assignment before you come to class. Learn how to create PDF files. Email and formatting problems are no excuse for not handing in an assignment on time (see information below).
  • Format: Papers must have MLA formatting. The majority of papers completed outside of class should be typed. Assignments completed in class must be written in blue/black ink. Make sure to include first and last name, the date, hour, and subject of assignment on all your work.
  • Some of your larger papers will need to be emailed or shared with me through Google Docs. Please do so with my school Gmail address: mwilcox@ndsion.edu
  • If you're absent from class for any reason, you need to make up class discussion by completing extra written work. Check the website for specific details or see me about the day you've missed.

Attendance is essential for your success in this class. While students will be afforded the opportunity to make up missed assignments for excused absences, interaction during discussion is invaluable and difficult to replicate. If you have a field trip, college visit, retreat, etc. please see me in advance to arrange make up times for quizzes, tests and assignments. If you have more than three absences in a quarter, extra work may be implemented at my discretion. Please be mindful that this is a college-level class offered to you in a high school setting, so we need to work together to overcome some of the challenges. In addition, you have two opportunities to attend Kairos retreats as well as opportunities to lead these retreats. If you decide to take AP Literature and Composition, you may attend one and lead another for a total of two Kairos retreats during the school year (one per semester). Clearly, you must be in strong standing academically to be considered. See Ms. Pino-Dressman or me with your questions.

Absences and Make-up Assignments
  • Please, please check the website before you ask me if you missed “anything” in class. If you are ill, and I haven’t posted an assignment, feel free to email me.
  • Once again, if you're absent from class for any reason, you need to make up class discussion by completing extra written work. Check the website for specific details or see me about the day you've missed.
  • If absence is excused, students will have two days for every day absent.
  • Unexcused absences will result in an automatic zero.
  • Major assignments unrelated to absences will be lowered 10% for each day it is late. Late work will not be accepted on daily homework. If you have a serious problem with an assignment’s due date, you must see me before the due date so we might collectively formulate an alternative.
  • If you are absent on a day a major assignment is due, send the assignment with a friend/sibling, have a parent/guardian leave the assignment in the front office, or if this is impossible, I will accept your assignment via Gmail (mwilcox@ndsion.edu). Make sure you have shared it correctly with me in your settings.

“Plagiarism refers to a form of cheating that has been defined as ‘the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind, and presenting it as one’s own. To use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source is to plagiarize. Plagiarism, then, constitutes intellectual theft.” (MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th edition, page 30).

Plagiarism not only cheats the author from whom you stole, but it cheats you out of an educational opportunity to grow and learn. Anything deemed as common knowledge does not need to be cited. If you are unsure whether or not to cite a source after quotations, paraphrasing, or summarizing, please clarify with me. If you do plagiarize, accidentally or maliciously, you will receive a zero for that assignment without the possibilityof revising.

Unless I mention otherwise, it is understood all required assignments, those both inside and outside of class, will be completed by you independently.

Other forms of cheating will also result in a zero. Parents, counselor, Principal, Dean of Students and Academic Dean will be notified. Please refer to the school handbook or ask me if you have questions.

  • Grades will follow Sion’s grading scale.
  • Quarter grades are based on total points (homework is not weighted less than papers and quizzes).
  • 1st Semester grade= Q1 (40%) + Q2 (40%) + semester exam (20%); 2nd Semester grade= Q3 (50%)+(50%). Students enrolled in AP Literature and Composition will take the College Board’s AP Exam in May.
  • Rubrics will accompany most, if not all, writing assignments.

No opportunities for extra enrichment will be extended until all required assignments are completed and turned in, even those that will not earn credit because of excessive lateness.

Mentoring/Conference Sessions: (I'm free 3rd hour and 7th hours in room 206).

If you need help with your literary analyses, college essays, or other writing assignments, I will be glad to offer help at lunch, after, or before school. Please schedule an appointment with me. Many papers can only be revised if you see me to discuss problems/solutions. Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely said, “[People] succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparation for their victories.”
While we all have high expectations for ourselves, it is healthy and normal to make mistakes and learn as a result of them.

Tentative Quarterly Syllabus

Quarter 1—Short Story Boot-camp

“We come newborn to every milestone of life’s journey, and often act like novices at each, no matter what our age.”
--La Rochefoucauld

“…In the eyes of youth we see a flame, but in the eyes of the aged we see light.”
--Victor Hugo

“One of the definitions of the loss of innocence is perhaps the fragmenting of that united self—a split that is different, and emblematic, not only for each sex, but also for each era.”
--Molly Haskell

  • Summer Reading—discussion and assessments
  • Short Story Boot-camp—approximately 40-50 short stories in a 6-week time period
  • As I Lay Dying

  • Free Response In-Class Essays, Question 2/Prose Literary Analysis
  • Out-of- class essays
  • College application essay workshop (1 week)
  • Character Analysis (WDYCW?)
  • Comparison-contrast literary analysis

Quarter Two--Poetry Intensive

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
--T.S. Eliot
Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.”
--Percy Bysshe Shelly
“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”
--Rita Dove

  • Poetry intensive
  • Independent reading—Wuthering Heights
  • Begin reading your 2nd Time Around novel.

  • Poetry analysis, explicate a poem
  • Formal Free-Response In-Class Essays, Question 1/Poetry Literary Analysis
  • Informal responses

Complete at least three multiple choice practice tests independently from Cliffs AP before 1st Semester Final Exam.

Quarter Three, Unit Three Theme: Living in Families/ Parent-Child Relationships

“Blood’s thicker than water, and when one’s in trouble
Best to seek out a relative’s open arms.”
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
--Leo Tolstoy
“Happy or unhappy, families are all mysterious.”
--Gloria Steinem

  • Novella—Metamorphosis
  • Novel—Beloved, your choice of novel/drama (independent read) with literary analysis (2nd Time Around)
  • Drama—Hamlet

  • Formal AP In-Class Essays
  • Informal responses
  • Paper for Independent reading/2nd Time Around due early 3rd Quarter
  • Character Analysis
  • Reader Response Journal to a partner (Beloved)

Quarter Four, Unit Four Theme: Awakenings & Confronting Mortality
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die.” --Ecclesiastes

“Death destroys a man. The idea of death saves him.”
--E.M. Forster

“When I was young, I admired clever people. As I grew old, I came to admire kind people.”
--Abraham Joshua Heschel

“If every day is an awakening, you will never grow old. You will just keep growing.
--Gail Sheehy

  • Novel—Atonement
  • Drama—Wit, A Doll House
  • Selected short stories

  • AP intensive review—short stories, the novel, drama, poetry
  • Formal AP In-Class Essays--Q1, Q2, and Q3
  • Character analysis

All that you've worked so hard for will pay off on Thursday, May 7th!