AP English Literature Course Outline

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The AP English Literature and Composition course is aimed to indulge students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature.

Students can deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide meaning and pleasure for their readers, Through the close reading of selected texts. Students should consider a work's structure, style, and themes, as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.


The course is inclusive of intensive study of representative works from different genres and periods, concentrating on works of recognized literary merit. The works chosen should invite and gratify rereading.

Reading in an AP course is wide as well as deep, This reading essentially builds upon the reading done in previous English courses. Such courses should include the in-depth reading of texts drawn from multiple genres, periods, and cultures. In their AP course, students should also read works from several genres and periods-from the 16th to 21st century-but, more importantly, they should get to know a few works well. They should read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work's complexity to absorb its richness of meaning, and to analyse how that meaning is embodied in literary form. In addition to considering a work's literary artistry, students should focus on the social and historical values it reflects and embodies. Attention to both textual detail and historical context should give a foundation for interpretation, whatever critical perspectives are brought to bear on the literary works studied.


Close reading includes the experience, interpretation as well as evaluation of literature. All these aspects of reading are crucial for an AP course in English Literature and Composition and each corresponds to an approach to writing about literary works. Writing to understand a literary work may include writing response and reaction papers along with annotation, freewriting, and keeping some form of a reading journal. Writing to explain a literary work involves analysis and interpretation and may include writing brief focused analyses on aspects of language and structure. Writing to evaluate a literary work involves making and explaining judgments about its artistry and exploring its underlying social as well as cultural values through analysis, interpretation and argument.

Writing should be a vital part of the AP English Literature and Composition course, as the AP Examination is weighted toward student writing about literature. Writing assignments should focus on the critical analysis of literature and should consist expository, analytical, and argumentative essays. Critical analysis should make up the bulk of student writing for the course, well-constructed creative writing assignments may help students see from the inside how literature is written. The goal of both types of writing assignments is to enhance students'ability to explain clearly, cogently, even elegantly, what they understand about literary works and why they interpret them.

Written instruction is consist of attention to developing and organizing ideas in clear, coherent, and persuasive language; a study of the elements of style; and attention to precision and correctness as necessity. Focus should be on helping students develop stylistic maturity throughout the course, which for AP English is characterized by the following points:

  • Use of wide range of vocabulary with denotative accuracy and connotative resourcefulness.
  • Variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordinate and coordinate constructions.
  • Logical organization enhanced by specific techniques of coherence such as repetition, transitions and emphasis.
  • Balance of generalization with specific illustrative details.
  • Effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, maintaining a consistent voice, and achieving emphasis through parallelism and antithesis.

It is crucial to differentiate among the various kinds of writing produced in an AP English Literature and Composition course. Any college-level course in which serious literature is read and studied should consist numerous opportunities for students to write. Some of this writing should be informal and exploratory, allowing students to discover what they think in the process of writing about their reading, other course writing should involve research, perhaps negotiating differing critical perspectives. Much writing should involve extended discourse in which students can develop an argument or present an analysis at length. Also, some writing assignments should motivate students to write effectively under the time constraints they faced in essay exams in college courses in many disciplines including English.