English 12 AP

I am eternally grateful for my knack of finding in great books… reason enough to feel honored to be alive.

                                     – Kurt Vonnegut

Welcome to English 12 Enriched

AP English Literature and Composition 12!

In AP English 12, you will continue to study the wondrous  and beautiful  art form known as Literature.  AP English Literature and Composition is a rigorous, college-level program similar in content and expectations to a first-year university course, the purpose of which is to provide high school students the opportunity to read challenging, stimulating literary texts and to write about their understanding with sufficient richness and complexity to communicate effectively with mature readers of literature.   This course prepares students for both the AP English Literature and Composition exam and the English 12 Provincial exam.  I may not follow the exact sequence nor teach the same texts outlined here each semester.  I add or subtract texts as the semester progresses.  My thematic organization is broad enough to allow for substitutions and additions.

Course Objectives:

  • To cultivate and improve understanding and appreciation of various time periods, styles, and genres of literature.
  • To develop facility and style in writing.
  • To develop analytical and critical reading techniques used to determine how authors create meaning in poetry, fiction, and drama.
  • To evaluate and self-evaluate writing.
  • To prepare students for the AP English Literature and Composition Exam and the English 12 Provincial Exam.

Reading Expectations

Students will engage in a deep and wide reading of poetry, fiction and drama of literary merit.  Students will read at least four novels independently.  Reflection on reading occurs through annotation, journaling and extensive group and class discussion.  Students may read one novel in a Literature Circle format during the semester, which allows for a collaborative approach to reading and understanding.

Novels to be studied and discussed during the semester:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • The Outsider by Albert Camus
  • Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Writing Expectations

The course relies heavily on student writing.  Students will complete a variety of composition types:  paragraphs, timed writes, and formal essays (literary analysis, persuasion and memoir).  Compositions are to be completed in accordance with specific assignment rubrics, and will be assessed according to the same rubrics.  There will be class time devoted to composition structure, grammatical issues (as noticed and needed), and writing style including sentence types and diction.  Attention is paid to writing process:  students are expected to craft their formal compositions in several stages and to share their writing with the class on a regular basis.  It is important that students are able to write in a wide variety of forms and incorporate language appropriate to each piece.  Informal writing such as journaling, creative writing and reader responses will also be incorporated into each unit.

It is the expectation that students will submit their best work for each written assignment and that proper care and attention be placed upon each submitted piece.

Timed writes will be assessed with scoring guides from either the English 12 Provincial Exam or the AP English Literature and Composition Exam.

There will be the opportunity to complete practice exam sections, and at least one “mock exam” in a simulated exam environment.

Unit 1:  Identity and Transformation

(2 weeks)

  • What does “identity” mean?
  • How is one’s identity formed?
  • What dangers are inherent in (mis)identification?
  • What are the catalysts for personal growth?


  • “Identities” by WD Valgardson
  • “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield
  • “Araby” by James Joyce
  • “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver

The term begins with students reading a number of short stories thematically linked by moments of realization. During our study of the above short stories, students will focus on close reading of the texts and synthesis analytical writing. Students write a formal synthesis essay. In addition, during these first few weeks, we will work on expanding vocabulary and on grammar lessons aimed at improving sentence structure and syntax. 

Unit 2: Modernism and the Lost Generation

(3 weeks)

  • How did the world wars affect modern consciousness?
  • What is society’s role in the human condition? What factors coerce a character to act in a certain fashion?
  • Is it possible to maintain individuality in a heartless, faceless world of bureaucracy, institutions, and corporations?
  • What is the absurd? How is Kafka able to utilize the grotesque to capture his view of the human condition?
  • How can we apply Freudian analysis to characters, ie. their motivations, intentions, and causes for their behaviour?


  • “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold
  • “Dulce Est Decorum Est,” “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” and “Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen
  • From All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • “Hollow Men” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by TS Eliot
  • From “Tradition and the Individual Talent” by TS Eliot
  • Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Students read several modern texts to study the modernist vision. During our study of modernism, students will continue to focus on close reading of passages and synthesis essay writing.

Unit 3:  The Pursuit of Happiness

(2 weeks)

  • How do we define “happiness”?
  • What are the sources of lasting human happiness?
  • To what degree does the acquisition of wealth and status affect individual happiness?
  • To what degree does the environment affect individual happiness?


  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Citizen Kane by Orson Welles (film)
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Students are expected to have read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby over the summer and will come prepared to discuss the novel independently and in conjunction with the film Citizen Kane.  Students will consider the themes of materialism, love, the American Dream, ambition, idealism, and nostalgia. Assessment for the Great Gatsby and Citizen Kane is a visual analysis of theme in both texts. Our final text in this unit is the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder.  The play is read in light of Wilder’s interest in Taoism. Students write a poetic response to Emily’s good-bye speech and a formal essay examining the Taoist ideas of interconnectivity, universality, harmony and simplicity.

Unit 4:  Modernity: Fears and Frustrations

(1 week)

  • What makes us human?
  • What needs and desires motivate us?
  • What are positive and negative aspects of modern societal progress?
  • Are science and technology necessary tools for human progress?
  • What ethical limits (if any) should there be on the development of science and technology?
  • To what degree does one’s relationship with technology affect happiness?


  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • “Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift

Students are expected to have read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood over the summer.  Class discussion focuses on the novel’s critique of humanity and societal progress.  Students also consider the role of satire in cultural critique. We may consider Jonathon Swift’s “Modest Proposal” as a complement to Atwood’s text.  Students may also enter a three day “technology black out challenge” in order to assess the effects of technology on their lives. Assessment for this unit includes a psychiatric analysis of Crake and a creative writing assignment discussing the best aspects of humanity and evaluating the possibility of utopia.

Unit 5:  The Tragic Figure in Literature

(3 weeks)

  • What makes the tragic figure so alluring?
  • How do modern writers develop and adapt Aristotle’s classical conception of “tragic hero”?


  • Othello by Shakespeare
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Students begin with a study of Aristotle’s theory of tragedy before engaging in a reading of Shakespeare’s Othello, and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.   Students engage in dramatic readings and learn through experience that performance affects meaning.  Discussion focuses on the tragic hero and his flaws, and tragic momentum and inevitability. Students choose one the plays to work with and create a modern abridged version of the play for performance.  They attempt to reduce the play to its key moments and demonstrate their understanding by modernizing and paraphrasing the original text. Students write an essay which asks whether Othello and Willy Loman can be considered a tragic hero and why.  Students will look at the nature of tragedy and the definition of the word “hero” and decide whether Othello and Willy Loman meet the requirements of a tragic hero.

Unit 6:  Persuasion

(2 weeks)

  • What role does language play in building relationships and influencing people?
  • What factors lead to effective or ineffective communication between people?


  • “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King
  • “Fired Up! Ready to Go” by Barack Obama
  • “Speech to the United Nations Youth Assembly” by Malala Yousafzai
  • “Modern Cannibals of the Wild” by Basil Johnston
  • Advertisements in print and video form

Students listen to and analyze a number of persuasive texts, and then create their own 2-minute oral persuasion in which they will attempt to convince the class of their point of view.  An assessment rubric for oral presentations will be provided in advance.  The focus for this mini-unit will be on the study and use of persuasive devices and techniques.

Unit 7:  Memoir

(2 weeks)

  • How do personal experiences affect our identity?


  • “Where My World Began” by Margaret Atwood
  • “Hurricane” by Fern Michaels
  • Chapter 1 of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Human by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (film)

Students engage in the reading and analysis of professional and student written narrative essays.  Students study the art of the implied thesis as well as the use and effect of a variety of rhetorical/literary devices including irony, rhetorical questions, analogy, metaphor, and various sound devices.

Students participate in a writing workshop where they write four narrative style essays in response to four separate prompts (prompts will be taken from previous English 12 Provincial exams).  Each essay is scored according to the Scoring Guide for Original Composition from the English 12 Provincial Exam.  Students choose the best of their four essays for summative assessment.

Unit 8:  Existentialism

(1 week)

  • What is existentialism? Is it an optimistic or a pessimistic philosophy, or both?
  • Is there a purpose in life?
  • What is the nature of choice in life? Do we, as humans, have the ability to shape our own lives?
  • Is morality necessary to live?
  • What is an anti-hero?


  • The Outsider (The Stranger) by Albert Camus
  • “The Myth of Sisyphus” by Albert Camus
  • from “Existentialism is a Humanism” by Jean-Paul Sartre

Students are expected to have read The Outsider by Albert Camus over the summer and will come prepared to discuss the novel in Socratic seminar format.  Students will consider the themes of responsibility and humanism.  They will read short stories and essays from other existential writers in conjunction with the novel. 

Unit 9:  TS Eliot and Sylvia Plath

(2 weeks)

Students will do weekly poetry responses all semester where they will respond informally to a variety of poems culled from previous AP and provincial exams, department anthologies and from my own private reading.   Weekly poem sets may be organized thematically or by author.  Students pick one poem per week to respond to. 

Students will also engage in the close study of two poets:  TS Eliot and Sylvia Plath.   They will read a number of poems by each writer, learn about each poet’s respective biography, and extrapolate on their style and thematic interests.  Students may be asked to write a poetic imitation of either Eliot or Plath.

Throughout our study of poetry, there will be an emphasis on annotation as an important reading tool, and students will be expected to learn and identify a wide variety of poetic devices.  Students are encouraged to remember the motto:  Form is never more than an extension of content.  Students practice annotating and analyzing poems in a variety of classroom activities before demonstrating their understanding of poetry analysis by completing a poetry portfolio that contains an annotation, paragraph analysis, and visual representation of a poem of their choice.

Ars Longa

Vita Brevis!