ARCHIVE: Advanced Placement English III

Advanced Placement English: Language and Composition
Course Syllabus    ¶    2008-2009 ¶             LS BLätter

Our country is still young and its potential is still enormous.  We should remember, as we look toward the future, that the more fully we believe in and achieve freedom and equal opportunity—not simply for ourselves, but for others—the greater our accomplishments as a nation will be.
                                                                                    -Henry Ford II

America . . . a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose.
                                                                                    -Herbert Hoover

If one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
                                                                                    -Henry David Thoreau

The end of wisdom is to dream high enough to lose the dream in the seeking of it.
                                                                                    -William Faulkner

…all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
                                                                                    -Declaration of Independence

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
-Karl Marx

The foundation of the American dream is deeply political.  As the Declaration of Independence suggests, having a dream and being an American seem to always already be juxtaposed.  What does it mean to be an American?  What is the American Dream?  This course will examine some of the key texts of various genres that became part of the powerful force driving and driven by the American dream—a dream of personal freedom and of possibility.  We’ll investigate the nature of the political writer, and by extension, the political reader—in this case, the student: you.  We’ll also examine how our selected texts function as powerful social forces.  How do they help or hinder the larger social causes they discuss?  How do various social forces orient our notions of the political?

Advanced Placement Language and Composition is a college level introduction to argument and persuasion that focuses on the essential stylistics of writing clearly and efficiently within the framework of argumentative research writing.  This course will teach students how to analyze, appreciate and respond to various genres of texts and write critical arguments about these works as we investigate some of the questions of American literary history.  The course’s primary focus is on the process of composing logically organized, well-supported and mechanically polished argumentative essays about the texts we will study.  Students will learn how to formulate a valid and coherent thesis and defend it logically with evidence drawn from various genres of readings.  Students will also learn how to work through the stages of planning, researching, organizing and revising their writing.  This course encourages students to investigate the relationship between writing and knowledge, and to discover how writing can create, rather than merely transmit, knowledge.  Class lectures, discussions, and projects will reveal the complementary relationship between writing and research and demonstrate how persuasive techniques and genres vary.  Students will be given a packet of SAT vocabulary words. A quiz on ten words is given each week, testing their ability to use the word in context and with the correct connotation by writing original sentences.

Unit One: Language on the Half-Shell

  • From summer: 1984, George Orwell and Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  •  “Shooting an Elephant”                                                             Orwell               Packet 
  • “Politics and the English Language”                                          Orwell               Packet
  • “The World of Doublespeak”                                                      William Lutz      Packet
  • Letter to George Orwell                                                            Huxley              Handout
  • Excerpt from “1984: History as Nightmare”                           Irving Howe         Handout
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • Tone Group Assignment (p. 25)
  • Self-Reliance, AP Multiple Choice Practice
  • AP Question 3, 2003: John James Audubon and Annie Dillard [diction and tone]
  • 2003Q3 Revision
  • AP Question 3, 2004: Richard Rodriguez’s Days of Obligation [diction]
  • Power of Language Essay: Write an essay responding to Orwell’s claim that the deterioration of political language contributes to the growingly hostile and untrustworthy political atmosphere; that “politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.  When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.”  What can be done to combat this form of deterioration?  Use references from at least 3 of the articles we have discussed in class and at least one online news item (Slate, Salon, NYT) to support your claims.  Document your references using MLA citation format. [CR4, CR8]
  • Peer evaluation of Power of Language Essay [CR2]
  • Revision of Power of Language Essay based on instructor feedback and peer evaluation [CR2, CR9]
  • Weekly vocabulary quizzes. [CR9]

Themes and Ideas:

  • Power and danger of language over thought: propaganda
  • Power of protest and rebellion
  • Role of technology
  • Poverty v. wealth (class consciousness)
  • Identity issues
  • Role of society (the masses, the people)
  • Problems with categorization: recognizing difference
  • Conformity, consumption
  • History as nightmare
  • Joy and happiness


  • Recognize and understand doublespeak: euphemism, jargon, gobbledygook and inflated language
  • The effects of language choice
  • Analyze the classification essay structure
  • Analyze purpose, audience and strategy/technique
  • Tone and diction analysis: levels of diction
  • Understand verbal and situational irony in 1984
  • Understand euphemism
  • Understand connotation and denotation
  • Synthesize and integrate readings
  • MLA documentation

Unit Two: Supersize Me

  • Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal      Eric Schlosser                     Book
  • “Talk Shows and the Dumbing of America”                           Tom Shachtman               Packet
  • “What Happens When People Write?”                                   Maxine Hairston               Packet
  • “How to Write with Style”                                                      Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.           Packet
  • Conversation with Joan Crawford                                        Studs Terkel                       Handout
  • “The Reality Effects of Tabloid Television News”                 Graham Knight                  Packet
  • “Prime Time: How TV Portrays American Culture”             Lichter, et. Al.                    Packet
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • Tone exercise (advanced, p. 26)
  • Sentence structure analysis (p. 34-35) [CR3, CR9]
  • AP Question 1, 2003: Neal Gabler’s Life the Movie [supporting an argument]
  • AP 2007: synthesis question: television and presidential elections
  • Documented Argumentative Essay using MLA [CR1, CR2 CR7, CR8]
    • Students will write about their individual understanding of the role of technology in the workplace, about the role of technology in society, and about the effects of technology in society and in the workplace; and, finally, they will research and write a paper about what they think the best solution for balancing the role of technology and the role of the human is.
    • Drafts, peer review and revision required [CR9]
    • Synthesize graphs, newspaper and magazine articles, Fast Food Nation
  • Weekly vocabulary quizzes. [CR9]

Themes and Ideas:

  • Icons of America: the Power of the Image
  • The Paradox of Progress: Technology as Cultural Nightmare
  • The Role of the Corporation in America


  • Investigate issues of corporate America in writing
  • Understand the rhetorical situation and an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques:
    • Diction, images, details, language and sentence structure
  • Recognize and understand persuasive appeals: ethos, pathos, logos
  • Persuasive argument structure
  • Recognize logical fallacies
  • Deductive and inductive reasoning
  • Understand types of evidence
  • Understand paradox
  • Juxtaposition of ideas

Unit Three: The Wages of Wrath

  • The Grapes of Wrath                                                                  John Steinbeck                 Book
  • “The Allegory of the Cave”                                                          Plato                                      Packet
  • Excerpts from The Social Contract                                            Jean Rousseau                  Packet
  • “By What are Wages Determined?”                                         Karl Marx                             Packet
  • “Capitalism and Freedom”                                                           Milton Friedman              Packet
  • UMWA Convention Speech                                                        Mother Jones                    Handout
  • “Migrant Mother” Images                                                            Dorothea Lange                                Visual
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • AP Question 2, 2002: Virginia Woolf [analyze use of language] [CR5]
  • AP Question 1, 2005: George F. Kennan [analyze language, support an argument] [CR5]
  • AP Question 3, 2005: Peter Singer [analyze persuasive argument] [CR4]
  • Timed Synthesis: Wage Labor.  Two readings above + NYT Tomato Pickers editorial [CR3, CR8]
  • Take home expository essay: Define freedom based on the ideas and criteria presented in Grapes of Wrath.  Which character(s) come closest to your definition?  Support using details and references from the text. [CR4]
  • Highlighting/note taking on details illustrating author’s evidence of evils of economic slavery to show main idea and method of indictment
  • Cause and effect essay on The Grapes of Wrath [CR4, CR5]
  • Students will view various images of by Dorothea Lange and write an essay explaining how those images are equal if not more powerful than texts such as The Grapes of Wrath. [CR4, CR5, CR6]
  • Weekly vocabulary quizzes. [CR9]

Themes and Ideas:

  • The Power of the Corporation and its Language
  • The Nature and Power of Language and Money
  • Corporation/Politician v. Everyday Person
  • Great Depression and Poverty (class consciousness)
  • Corporate Slavery—what choice does a person have?
  • Price/cost of protest
  • Plight of the workers (compare to current economic climate)


  • Analyze style:
    • Syntax, sentence structure, figurative language, imagery, diction, tone
  • Narrative (story) as persuasive strategy
  • Narrative structure
  • Motif as unifying technique
  • Rhetorical strategies and persuasive appeals
  • Socratic discussion on the role and power of the individual in society

Unit Four: Politics Out Loud

  • All the King’s Men                                                                            Robert Penn Warren      Book
  • The Declaration of Independence                                             Thomas Jefferson            WB, 45
  • Second Inaugural Address                                                           Abraham Lincoln              Packet
  • Inaugural Address                                                                           John F. Kennedy              Packet
  • Speech to the Virginia Convention                                            Patrick Henry                     WB, 37
  • Gettysburg Address                                                                        Abraham Lincoln              Text, 479
  • Civil Disobedience                                                                            Thoreau                               WB, 101
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail                                                        Martin L. King, Jr.             Text, 256
  • Speech on Race, 18 Mar 08                                                          Barack Obama                   online
  • Paramount News Clip: Huey Long                                             Paramount News             online
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • AP Question 1, 2004: Lord Chesterfield [analyze rhetorical strategies] [CR5]
  • AP Multiple Choice Practice (p. 16-18)
  • AP Question 1, 2002: Abraham Lincoln [analyze rhetorical strategies, support an argument with textual references] [CR5]
  • Letter and Speech Analysis (p. 45-53) [CR9]
  • Compare and contrast Obama’s 2008 speech on Race with two of the other speeches we discussed in class.  Analyze for tone, purpose and structure.  What is your overall conclusion about the efficacy of the speeches you looked at?  Why? [CR4, CR5, CR8]
  • Peer and instructor evaluation [CR2,CR9]
  • Annotate passages from All the King’s Men and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
  • Weekly vocabulary quizzes. [CR9]

Themes and Ideas:

  • Protest Literature/forms of protest
  • Morality and intelligence v. spectacle
  • Honesty and idealism v. “reality of politics”
  • Cause and effect
  • Money/financial independence
  • “Cost” of change
  • Analyze point of view
  • Letter and Speech analysis


  • Analyze point of view
  • Analyze letters and speeches
  • Analyze language of persuasion
  • Figurative language
  • Parallelism
  • Rhetorical question
  • Rhetorical fragment/run-on
  • Paradox
  • Narrative structure
  • Understand the use of rhetorical devices to reveal character
  • Relate diction and word choice to character
  • Analyze point of view
  • Revelation of character through details

Unit Five: A Modest Proposal of Civil Disobedience

  • The Book of Daniel                                                                          E. L. Doctorow                   Book
  •  “Bartleby, the Scrivener”                                                             Herman Melville               Packet
  • “The Last Days of Sacco and Vanzetti”                                    Phil Stong                            Packet
  • Excerpts from The Port Huron Statement                              SDS                                        online
  • “The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties

Legacy to the Underclass”                                            Myron Magnet                 Packet

  • “The Symbolic Crusade against Media Violence Is

A Confession of Despair”                                              Todd Gitlin                          Packet

  • “A Modest Proposal”                                                                     Jonathan Swift                  Packet
  • McCarthy attack on Murrow                                                      Joseph McCarthy             online speech
  • Murrow response to McCarthy                                                  Edward R. Murrow          online speech
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  •  AP Question 2, 2005: The Onion [analyze satire]
  • Analyze Tone Through Diction
  • Analyze Tone Through Sentence Structure
  • Report on the McCarthy / Murrow exchange.  What are the charges being levied by each side?  How are these charges countered?  To write a successful essay, students must classify and arrange information, which includes synthesizing and possibly renaming similar charges.  [CR3, CR4, CR5]
  • Argumentative call to action paper on The Book of Daniel.  Support an argument using at least 3 of this unit’s readings as support. [CR4, CR8]
    • Synthesis, documented support (MLA)
  • Weekly vocabulary quizzes. [CR9]

Themes and Ideas:

  • Writing as form of inquiry
  • Trust and Betrayal
  • Perspective and Point of View
  • History as Nightmare (Return to 1984 essay)


  • Understand writing as a form of inquiry
  • Understand the relationship between perspective and point of view
  • Analyze point of view
  • Understand tone through diction, imagery and sentence structure
  • Understand and employ satire effectively
  • Understand and employ figurative language effectively
    • Hyperbole, understatement
  • Structure of an argumentative essay

 Per the Advanced Placement Course Guide:
Upon completing the AP English Language and Composition course, students should be able to:
• analyze and interpret samples of good writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques;
• apply effective strategies and techniques in their own writing;
• create and sustain arguments based on readings, research, and/or personal experience;
• write for a variety of purposes;
• produce expository, analytical, and argumentative compositions that introduce a complex central idea and develop it with appropriate evidence drawn from primary and/or secondary sources, cogent explanations, and clear transitions;
• demonstrate understanding and mastery of standard written English as well as stylistic maturity in their own writings;
• demonstrate understanding of the conventions of citing primary and secondary sources;
• move effectively through the stages of the writing process, with careful attention to inquiry and research, drafting, revising, editing, and review;
• write thoughtfully about their own process of composition;
• revise a work to make it suitable for a different audience;
• analyze image as text; and
• evaluate and incorporate reference documents into researched papers.

Stylistic development is nurtured by emphasizing the following:
• a wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively;
• a variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination;
• logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis;
• a balance of generalization and specific illustrative detail; and
• an effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure.