English Literature & Composition

English Literature and Composition 

This course will focus on the knowledge and skills high school students need to succeed on the AP Literature and Composition Exam. We’ll begin with an overview of the big six ideas/understandings in AP English Literature: character, setting, structure, narration, figurative language, and literary argument.

Following the introduction of “the big six,” the discussions will be organized around these six topics and will focus on interpreting, analyzing, and discussing AP-level texts in the literary genres—poetry, fiction, drama, and literary nonfiction. We’ll explore how each of the first five text elements is developed in poems, fiction, drama, and literary nonfiction from various periods in English and American literary texts.

We’ll also discuss the types of literary arguments students are asked to write on the AP Lit Exam: poetry analysis (FRQ1); prose passage analysis (FRQ2); and discussion of how a theme is developed in a particular novel or play (FRQ3). The focus will be on helping students learn how to deconstruct the prompts for each of the three Free-Response Questions and how to structure an argument that successfully addresses each type of question.

We’ll examine strategies for helping students answer the types of multiple-choice questions addressing character, setting, structure, narrative viewpoint, figurative language, and main idea/theme that appear on the AP Lit Exam.

We’ll also discuss the types and variety of texts that form a viable curriculum for an AP Literature course, and participants will have opportunities to work with texts they want to teach, creating discussion questions, lesson plans, and assessments that have both multiple choice and essay questions aligned to the AP Lit Exam. We’ll read and discuss several short stories and poems, as well as a one-act play, to practice the kind of close reading and analysis required on the exam. We will devote a portion of each day to scoring anchor essays on the three free-response questions, using the AP Lit 6-point analytic rubric to assess the essays.

Instructor: Maridella Carter

After completing a Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Texas-Austin, Maridella began a long career teaching English at the high school and college levels. In 2005, she became an AP English Literature consultant and has facilitated AP Lit workshops and Summer Institutes in Iowa; Arkansas; Nebraska; Missouri; Kansas; Chicago, Illinois; and Oxford, Mississippi. Her special interest is late nineteenth-century, twentieth, and twenty-first century American literature. She has presented at national AP and NCTE conferences, and her article, “Beyond the Dream, the Journey: American Novels That Track the Path from Slavery to Freedom,” was published in the March 2017 issue of the English Journal.

For 31 years, Maridella taught composition and literature courses at grades 10-12 in a suburban public school district in the Kansas City area, and she also taught part-time at the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. From 2005-2021, she served as the 9-12 English coordinator for the school district in which she taught high school English, AP Language and AP Literature, and college 100-level composition and 200-level literature courses. She has also been an AP Literature Exam grader since 2003.