Advanced Placement English III

Advanced Placement English: Language and Composition
Course Syllabus    ¶    2011-2012 ¶             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)

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

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

…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.  
--from The Communist Manifesto

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 list of common terms essential for understanding and discussing the various modes of writing we will focus on: the rhetorical analysis, the argumentative and persuasive essay, the synthesis and the argumentative research paper.

Unit One: Language on the Half-Shell

  • From summer: 1984, George Orwell; Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser; Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  •  “Shooting an Elephant”                                                                                Orwell                                   Online  
  • “Politics and the English Language”                                          Orwell                                   Online
  • “The World of Doublespeak”                                                      William Lutz                        Online
  • “The Allegory of the Cave”                                                          Plato                                      Online
  • The Declaration of Independence                                             Thomas Jefferson            WB, 45
  • Civil Disobedience                                                                            Thoreau                               WB, 101
  • Excerpts from “Communist Manifesto”                                 Marx/Engels                      Online
  • “Public Discourse and the Stewart Model of Critical Thinking”     
                • Torosyan                             Handout
  • Bartleby, the Scrivener                                                                  Melville                                                Packet/Online
  • “On the Pleasure of Hating”                                                        Hazlitt                                   Handout/Online
  • “Working for a Living: The Codes for Work and Money” Rapaille                                                Handout
  • “Penny Foolish”                                                                                                Schlosser                             NYT
  • Excerpts from The Social Contract                                            Jean Rousseau                  Packet
  • “The Company Man”      2Q95                                                      Goodman                            Handout
  • UMWA Convention Speech                                                        Mother Jones                    Handout
  • “Migrant Mother” Images                                                            Dorothea Lange                                Visual
  • Africa and Oil Comic                                                                        from WW3 illustrated     Online/Visual
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and

Recommended Reading/Viewing (Please get parental consent for ALL suggested viewing):

  • The Matrix
  • Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Fight Club
  • Minority Report
  • Metropolis
  • The Daily Show and Philosophy edited by Jason Holt


  • Diagnostic Exam
  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • Tone Group Assignment (p. 25, Handout); 4-5 groups: describe your event in your assigned tone
  • Self-Reliance, AP Multiple Choice Practice
  • AP 3Q 2003: John James Audubon and Annie Dillard [diction and tone; comparison and contrast]
  • 3Q2003 Revision
  • AP 3Q2004: Richard Rodriguez’s Days of Obligation [diction]
  • Video analysis
  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • 2Q2002: Virginia Woolf [analyze use of language] [CR5]
  • 1Q2005: George F. Kennan [analyze language, support an argument] [CR5]
  • Timed Synthesis: Wage Labor.  Two readings above + NYT Tomato Pickers editorial [CR3, CR8]
  • Beast #1: 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 does Orwell mean by this claim? How does his argument influence your own reading of the summer texts 1984, Fast Food Nation, and Grapes of Wrath? What model do these texts provide for dealing with the issue of a "growingly hostile and untrustworthy political atmosphere"?  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. Feel free to peruse the forums for extra sources. Document your references using MLA citation format. [CR4, CR8]
    • Synthesize graphs, newspaper and magazine articles, Fast Food Nation
  • Peer evaluation of Power of Language Essay [CR2]
  • Revision of Power of Language Essay based on instructor feedback and peer evaluation [CR2, CR9]
  • Analyze passages from unit texts
  • Weekly vocabulary/rhetorical terms 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
  • 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)


  • Recognize and understand doublespeak: euphemism, jargon, gobbledygook and inflated language
  • Understand 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 connotation and denotation
  • Synthesize and integrate readings
  • MLA documentation
  • Understand how to write a rhetorical analysis
  • Understand and employ classical argument structure
  • Understand the function of commentary in writing arguments
  • 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 Two: Twilight of American Culture

  • The Twilight of American Culture                                              Morris Berman                  Book
  • “Talk Shows and the Dumbing of America”                           Tom Shachtman               Online
  • “Amusing Ourselves to Death with Television News:
    • Jon Stewart, Neil Postman, and the Huxleyan warning
                • Gerald J. Erion                   Handout
  • “Learning to Read and Write”                                                     Douglass                              Handout
  • “Toys”                                                                                                   Barthes                                                Handout
  • “Portrait of an Ideal World”                                                         Mencken                             Handout
  • “How to Write with Style”                                                            Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.           Packet
  • “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”                                      HD Thoreau                        Online
  • “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

Recommended Viewing:

  • Contact
  • The Incredibles
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Gladiator


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • Tone exercise (advanced, p. 26)
  • Self-Reliance, AP Multiple Choice Practice
  • Sentence structure analysis (p. 34-35) [CR3, CR9]
  • AP 1Q 2003: Neal Gabler’s Life the Movie [supporting an argument]
  • AP 2007: synthesis question: television and presidential elections
  • “Making the Mosaic” analysis
  • “You Have the Right to Tell a Bigot What You Think”: Pitts article analysis (argument and rhetoric)
  • Video Analysis
  • 3Q2005: Peter Singer [analyze persuasive argument] [CR4]
  • Documented Argumentative Essay using MLA [CR1, CR2 CR7, CR8]
  • Beast #2: Consider the various Community Projects in Twilight of American Culture  as a foundation for thinking about the arguments Berman presents.  Explore methods that you might use to create your own projects towards a new sustainability.  Be sure to consider the methodology of some of the projects Berman includes as well as the rationale behind those projects.  In other words, it isn’t enough to merely create a project, you must also begin to articulate why your project is important—not just for the community but for yourself, as well.  Also, you should take into consideration the larger lessons we discussed from the summer readings: 1984, Grapes of Wrath, and Fast Food Nation.  How do those texts change how you envision your project now as opposed to last year when you were devising the project?
    • Drafts, peer review and revision required [CR9]
  • Analyze passages from unit texts
  • 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
  • Education and its role in shaping society
  • Individual efficacy and agency


  • 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
  • Understand Classical Argument Structure
  • Be able to recognize and construct commentary in argumentation


Unit Three: Politics Out Loud

  • All the King’s Men                                                                            Robert Penn Warren      Book
  • Garden of Eden                                                                                                Bible                                      Online/Hotel Drawer
  • “Humpty Dumpty”                                                                          Lewis Carroll                       Online
  • 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
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail                                                        Martin L. King, Jr.             Text, 256
  • “Ain’t I a Woman”                                                                            Truth                                     Book
  • “Morals of the Prince”                                                                   Machiavelli                         Handout/Online
  • “Can the Middle Class be Saved?”                                            Don Peck                             Atlantic Monthly
  • Speech on Race, 18 Mar 08                                                          Barack Obama                   online
  • Paramount News Clip: Huey Long                                             Paramount News             online
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and

Recommended Viewing:

  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Trainspotting
  • Cashback


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  • AP 1Q2004: Lord Chesterfield [analyze rhetorical strategies] [CR5]
  • AP Multiple Choice Practice (p. 16-18)
  • AP 1Q2002: Abraham Lincoln [analyze rhetorical strategies, support an argument with textual references] [CR5]
  • Letter and Speech Analysis (p. 45-53) [CR9]
  • Beast #3: Discuss how moral ambiguities such as violence, betrayal, blackmail, infidelity, and political corruption structure Warren’s argument about good versus evil.  How does ATKM inform your reading of the other class texts?  What does ATKM suggest to today’s readers in our current social and political climate?
  • 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 Four: A Modest Proposal of Civil Disobedience

  • The Book of Daniel                                                                          E. L. Doctorow                   Book
  •  “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
  • “Such, Such Were the Joys”                                                        Orwell                                   Online
  • “Once More to the Lake”                                                             White                                    Handout/Online
  • “Death of the Moth”                                                                      Woolf                                    Handout/Online
  • McCarthy attack on Murrow                                                      Joseph McCarthy             online speech
  • Murrow response to McCarthy                                                  Edward R. Murrow          online speech
  • Various Current Op-Ed pieces from, and

Recommended Viewing:

  • Dead Poets Society
  • Good Night, and Good Luck


  • Response papers for each reading assignment [CR3]
  •  2Q2005: 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]
  • Beast #4: Argumentative call to action paper addressing the course question using The Book of Daniel as a primary source and incorporating ALL other major texts from the course and at least 7 of the minor readings (essays, articles, short stories).  [CR4, CR8]
    • Synthesis, documented support (MLA)
    • Research
    • Argumentation
    • Rhetorical Analysis
    • MLA format
    • Works cited
    • Integration of support
  • 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

join or die

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 four 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 for the entire year (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?
Highlighter (2 colors)
Colored Pencils (5 colors)
Pen—black ink ONLY for in-class writings.  I don’t care what color you take notes in.
Small pocket notebook (3.5 x 5.5) for EACH major text (Moleskine is a good brand)
A binder with space for each of the following categories:

  • Responses to texts
  • Personal Essays
  • AP Practice Exams
  • News Articles & Essays
  • Handouts
  • Various Assessments (quizzes &tc.)

At the end of each unit, you should put all your written work in your portfolio.  There will be a mandatory mid-term and final portfolio assessment.
Last year’s crew filled up a 3” binder…it might be easier to get two 1.5” binders, but do what works for you.



Skill / Idea

Correlating Assignment


MLA Page Formatting



Basic Rhetorical Devices (not an exhaustive list)






Either/Or Fallacy









Inverted Syntax






Loose Sentence



Periodic Sentence






Rhetoric / Rhetorical Modes



Subordinate (Dependent) Clause









Polysendeton / Asyndeton



Basic Citation



Quote Integration



Thesis Development



Claim/Warrant/Premise (supporting a claim)



Addressing Plagiarism



Classical Argument Structure









Structuring Notes When Reading



Conjugation: Suppose, Bias, Prejudice, Use



Time Management: Self-Created Pacing Guides



Movie/Song MLA Citation



ISMS (?)



Avoiding Cliches



Basic Literary Terms


















Metaphor/extended metaphor












Point of view












Stream of Consciousness