ARCHIVE: AP III 2009-2010
Advanced Placement English III

Advanced Placement English: Language and Composition
Course Syllabus    ¶    2009-2010    ¶       LS BLätter

Freedom lies in the capacity to expose the failure of the system, to rejuvenate perception of ready-made views and automatic reflexes.                                                                                                                                                                --Sophie Girardin

Or perhaps it is that I recognized in you the strength and innocence that will reclaim us all from defeat.  That will exonerate our having lived and justify our suffering.                                                                                           --from The Book of Daniel (70)

It ain’t that big.  The whole United States ain’t that big.  It ain’t big enough.  There ain’t room enough for you an’ me, for your kind an’ my kind, for rich and poor together in one country, for thieves and honest men.  For hunger and fat.  Whyn’t you go back where you come from?                                                                                                                                     --from The Grapes of Wrath (130)

Because what folks claim is right is always just a couple of jumps short of what they need to do business.
--from All the King’s Men (258)

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.                             
--from The Communist Manifesto

Corporate takeover of intellectual property has become quite dramatic, and it has resulted in the replacement of intelligent citizens by mindless consumers, and a corresponding conceptual flattening of public discourse.
--from The Twilight of American Culture

Perhaps it is this specter that most haunts working men and women: the planned obsolescence of people that is of a piece with the planned obsolescence with the things they make.  Or sell.  It is perhaps this fear of no longer being needed in a world of needless things that most clearly spells out the unnaturalness, the surreality of much that is called work today.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --from Working

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. 

Unit One: Language on the Half-Shell

  • From summer: 1984, George Orwell and McTeague, Frank Norris
  •  “Shooting an Elephant”                                                             Orwell               Packet 
  • “Politics and the English Language”                                          Orwell               Packet
  • “The World of Doublespeak”                                                      William Lutz      Packet
  • 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 assessments. [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: Twilight of American Culture

  • The Twilight of American Culture      Morris Berman                     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 corporate “Mass Mind culture,”  about the role of education and knowledge for their own sake; and, finally, they will research and write a paper investigating and questioning the dilemmas Berman presents as well as the arguments from at least two (2) other readings from this unit.  The objective of this research inquiry paper is for students to begin to discern for themselves their own role / process in this ever changing American society.
    • Drafts, peer review and revision required [CR9]
    • Synthesize graphs, newspaper and magazine articles, Fast Food Nation
  • Weekly vocabulary assessments. [CR9]

Themes and Ideas:

  • Icons of America: the Power of the Image
  • Collapse of the American School System
  • Cultural Preservation and the Individual Conscience
  • 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 assessments. [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 assessments. [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.

A couple of notes on this course:
Since there are only five units for our six 6-week school year, there will be some overlap from grading period to grading period.  More often than not, the final project for one unit will be the first major grade of the new marking period.  As such, it is absolutely imperative that you keep up with all reading and writing assignments or you may find it difficult if not impossible to catch up.  The entire course is cumulative.  If you do not do any one major reading, you will be unable to pass the final six weeks of the course.  You will be required to use ALL major texts and several minor texts for the final research paper.  If you are struggling, make time to visit with me after school or set up a time when we can chat.  This is a crucial time in your academic career; plan carefully.

This may be the most uncomfortable aspect of this class: grading.  You must keep a portfolio of ALL WRITTEN WORK (I’ll give you a folder and file cabinet space).  Your portfolio is the evidence of your participation in this community of learners as well as a record of your own progress as a thinker and writer.  At the end of each unit you will bring your portfolio and your final project to a brief conference in which we discuss your progression.  It will be this conversation that carries the most weight in what appears on your report card.  In essence, what appears in the grade book is inconsequential until the entire unit is complete and discussed holistically.  Most emphasis is placed on effort and progression.  Failure does not necessarily mean a grade book F unless you up and quit.  A grade book F is an indication that something needs to change; if you change and how you change are up to you.  I cannot have a conversation about assessing thin air.  If you do not participate in the class your grade will be outside of the realm of effort (F).  This will be a test of your mettle and will and for many of you it will be just as difficult as the material, if not more so.  Embrace it.

This is a COLLEGE LEVEL course and the expectation is that students are here, as with most college courses, because they wish to be.  Since this is the first upper level course for you, it is natural that you will feel a bit overwhelmed AT FIRST.  One thing college will teach you is how to persevere.  Can you define your struggles or will they define you?
join or die