Posted: March 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

beowulf_vs_grendel_by_thefool432So to understand John Gardner’s Grendel, you first have to know the story of Beowulfbeowulf-translation-by-seamus-heaney . . . .and the Audiobook is here . . . . and a little taste of the Old English can be found here.  The Beowulf synopsis PowerPoint is here

John Garner’s Grendel can be found here: grendel-chapters-1-6 and grendel-chapters-7-12 if you don’t have a physical copy of the text.

What’s all this existentialism nonsense he dislikes so much?  Well, here’s my stab at it: existentialism.  And why does he hate it so much?  Well, for starters Gardner accidentally ran over and killed his brother with a tractor, so a philosophy based on the idea that there are no accidents and we choose every aspect of our destiny and identity wouldn’t exactly be his fave, ya know?  But, just like his use of astrology, Gardner points out that we would map ways through Hell with our “lunatic” and “crackpot theories.”  Sometimes we have to test our crackpot theories against real world observation and applicability.  Concluding, thanks to Descartes, that “I alone exist” (22) doesn’t really help stop the pain when someone’s bashing your head into a wall.  Maybe we all need to have an accident so we can wake up and realize this — “‘Poor Grendel’s had an accident,’ I whisper ‘so may you all‘” (174).  Secondly, if you take existentialism to its conclusion, you end up at nihilism and who really wants to be a dragon with no purpose but to “seek out gold and sit on it” (74)?

Whoa, that was intense, let’s take a break (that’s a pun meaning click on the page break for more).

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Extra Credit

Posted: March 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

OK, some of you are noticing that the effect of senioritis on your grade is a little more than you anticipated — or simply that AP English isn’t a super easy course.  All true.  Soooooo, if you would like to turn one of your quiz grades into a 100, you can read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (I’d suggest a bit of background on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and perhaps even the story too if you’re having difficulty with it). In short, the story catalogs one woman’s descent into madness at the hands of the rest cure — an actual treatment for ailments such as depression that Gilman herself experienced.  It’s kind of the mental health equivalent of leeches . . .

Next, you’ll need to offer a close reading of the story.  Click through the page break for questions to guide you.

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More Prose Prompt stuff

Posted: March 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

We’re working on the AP prose prompt in class with asks you to offer a close reading of a page or two of prose. Remember to first deconstruct the prompt — i. e. turn it into a question that you understand and figure out what you need to look for. Then, in your analysis, be sure to offer something beyond what is said on the surface. Your essay should focus on what the author wants us to understand about the subject (i.e. purpose) rather than enumerating literary devices. Literary devices are great for looking at HOW an author does something, but you always have to be sure to get to the WHY.
On Thursday and Friday (March 15-16) we’ll work with a prompt from 2014 that gave many students trouble: AP Prose 2014 Known World prompt deconstruction and then last year’s prompt: 2017 AP Prose Essay Prompt which also left some students in a pickle. 🙂

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Short Story Unit

Posted: March 1, 2018 in Uncategorized



We’re starting out our short story unit with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic “Young Goodman Brown.”  Your assignment for this one is to decode the various parts of the allegory and put together what moral, social, or spiritual experience Young Goodman Brown’s one night journey represents (which can be found here).

Click below for the other short stories in our unit

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1984 Seminar

Posted: February 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

We’ll have a groovy graded seminar discussion on 1984 on Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 19th and 20th), Monday based on my questions, Tuesday based on yours, which you need to enter ahead of time on this form.



Commissar Nikolai Yezhov with Stalin

George Orwell’s 1984 is, I would claim, THE seminal work of dystopia.   Ever hear of the phrase “big brother”?  How about unperson, thoughtcrime, or doublethink?  –All from 1984.  You know how we can’t do anything these days without someone recording it, putting it on social media, etc.?  You know all that data mining Wikileaks exposed #PatriotAct?  Orwell called it.  Ever hear of a government falsifying reports and sugarcoating history?  “Who controls the present controls the past; who controls the past controls the future” (Orwell, 1984)



Hey, where’d he go? #unperson

Or how about the fact that nations are always at war and always talking about another war, meanwhile corporations get rich off those wars and the masses become xenophobic towards those peoples?  Orwell called that too.   What if we speak out?  Exiled.  Brainwashed.  Vaporized.  #Stalin

Beyond all the political commentary, however, there’s a great story in it too — love, sex, friendship, betrayal — truly one of the best books ever written.

Click through the break for handouts, notes, and more . . .
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Here’s the Power Point I shared in class: Syntax Terminology 2018

And here are some warm ups we’ll be working on: convoluted sentences,   Types of Sentences review,  Rhetorical Device Review Warm up

You can also view the terms by clicking below:

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