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Friday, April 1, 2011

Online Advanced Placement: Literature and Composition

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Note: This is a two-part course. Part Two will take place in the spring semester. Enrollment is limited.

Class dates: Tuesdays (instruction) and Thursdays (discussion/lab), September 6 to December 20. No class Nov. 1 (All Saints Day), Nov. 21 (Thanksgiving) and Dec. 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception).
Total classes: 28
Starting time: 8:00 pm Eastern (7:00 pm Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Students should be ready for upper division English and 17- to 18-years old. Instructor’s permission is required for students 16 or under. Students are expected to take Part Two of this course plus the AP test (May 10, 2012).
Suggested grade level: 11th to 12th grade
Fee: $300 if you enroll on or before August 1, 2011. $375 after August 1 for all 28 classes.
Instructor: Laurie Navar Gill, M. Ed.

Course description: This course syllabus has been approved by the College Board to bear the designation “AP.” All students in the class will be receiving a preparation that will help them to succeed on the AP Literature and Composition exam, which many students take for Advanced College Credit. You may also be eligible for a weighted grade.

Building on representative texts from the western literary tradition, this course will particularly examine the nature of storytelling and its relationship to life and culture. We will look at different storytelling media, including the epic, drama, the novel, non-fiction prose, and poetry. We will analyze story structure and storytelling techniques and examine the interplay between life and story. As we read stories, we will also talk about them, write about them, and tell some of our own.

The course approaches the goals of AP Literature through a Catholic lens. The primary themes under consideration are God’s universal charity and the consequences of sin. As we travel with the pilgrims of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, imagine the end of the world, examine the tragedies of Othello and King Lear, look at Gothic horror novels through the lens of contemporary bio-ethical dilemmas, and finally, ponder how God’s plan is worked out through very imperfect instruments in The Power and the Glory, students can mature and deepen in their understanding of human weakness and God’s sovereign mercy. He is everything, and without Him, we are nothing. At some level, all that we undertake in this class is aimed at understanding who we are before God, for in the end, nothing else matters.

Course materials: Each student will need 7-11 books; all are available in inexpensive paperback editions. Specific editions will be suggested, but library copies are fine. In the case of literature in translation, particular translations will be required. Some of the texts are available free online. The complete reading list can be found here:

Homework: The course requires roughly an hour of reading every day, with additional discussion/posting responsibilities. Every reading unit (approx. every 3 weeks) also includes a major writing assignment that will go through draft, conferencing and revision stages. Conferences are one-on-one meetings with the instructor that can take place via computer or telephone [SKYPE]. Students should plan on spending an average of 60-90 minutes 5-6 days a week outside of class on reading and writing for this course.

Course outline:
Unit I (weeks 1-3): Your Literacy Profile
After being introduced to the course, we will examine what writers say about reading and writing and be presented with different models of the writing process. By traversing your own history with literature and composition, you will analyze and define your own most effective writing process. This self-evaluation will define in part how you will work on writing in this class and will get you started on the college admissions essay.

Unit II (weeks 4-7): That’s Epic
Students may choose to read either Virgil’s Aeneid or Dante’s Inferno. Work in this unit will focus on epic poetry structure and conventions and on the study techniques required to undertake a difficult literary text.

Unit III (weeks 8-10) Here is God’s Plenty
While reading portions of The Canterbury Tales, we will consider storytelling forms, genres, and subject matter. Also included in this unit is an overview of the evolution of the English language.

Students will write and tell a tale for the entertainment and/or edification of classmates. Tales will be written, performed (that is, told orally), critiqued by the class, perfected and published in a collection.

Unit IV (weeks 11-15): A Bang or a Whimper
Each student will read and analyze an apocalyptic literature selection of his or her own choosing (from a list provided by the instructor). We will consider apocalyptic imagery and the techniques writers use to build a mood or develop a theme. The writing assignment will ask students to consider the literary apocalypse they read and compare it to their own ideas and beliefs and the Church’s understanding of the “last things.”

Independent Reading Unit:
Throughout the course, students will be asked to prepare several books for use on the AP exam in the open question (Q3). Students may read books and prepare them, or they may prepare worthy books they have read in the past. Each student is required to prepare four books for Q3 and can share their preparations with other students who have read the same books.

Focus questions:
1) What is the role of story in individual lives? What is its role in culture and society?
2) How has storytelling evolved through the centuries? What has remained constant?
3) How does reading fiction inform us about truth?

Equipment requirements:
Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.

Mrs. Gill will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.

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