Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

AP Exam Review

Posted: April 8, 2019 in Uncategorized

The day of destiny is almost upon us, folks!  May 8th! So how do I prepare for an AP lit exam?
It is a bit different than many exams in that English is more of a skill based course than a content based one. Practice helps, but at this point you’re probably looking for some last minute cramming. Try these:

Look back over the commentary on your various essays this year and put together some goals on how to improve.  Check out my AP English Lit Exam Last Minute Advice too!

Review the major works you might write about.  Here’s my wicked awesome theme Power Point with wicked awesome soundtrack: mwds-theme-review 2019 (text is also available after the page break)

Hey, this is what SparkNotes is supposed to be for, right?  Use it.  Or, for twice the fun in half the time, try ThugNotes

AP reader comments and advice can also be quite helpful on those essay:

Review Richard Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor — AP loves those Structuralist patterns we discussed this year. Outline is here.

Though they are becoming a less and less prominent part of the exam, you could review literary terms . . .  There’s also all kinds of stuff on the interwebs.



4th quarter stuff

Posted: April 8, 2019 in Uncategorized

This quarter is a fast one, so we will have a few less grades.  I’m also trying to meet you halfway with the whole senioritis/pressures-of-college-and-entering-the-real-world thing, so instead of annotating your 4th quarter novel, you just need to do a book talk by April 18th.

Your project is an annotated bibliography  which we will spend the last week before spring break working on in class.  The assignment is here: Annotated bibliography 2019. (also after the page break) due April 18th.



Posted: March 11, 2019 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).



Posted: February 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

Here are a few resources on Antigone from class: Antigone

And if you get behind or need to review the text, here’s the same translation we read in class, annotated!  Genius Antigone

And check out this Oedipal family bush everyone’s talking about.

Rosivach, Vincent J. “Theban Geneology.” Fairfield University.

You might also find articles such as “Hegel on Antigone”  useful.  Stay tuned as I’ll be posting more as we go.

In class we’re reviewing the play by outlining responses to Antigone prompts.  But one of the things that makes texts like this timeless is their applicability to our lives even now.  Many of us can read the same text at different times in our lives and find new takes on it.  Every time I read an article on a work we study, my eyes are opened a little wider to the breadth and possibilities the work offers.  Don’t worry, I won’t give you more literary criticism, but check out these two videos from England’s National Theatre before you revise your outlines.  Antigone, an introduction.  and Antigone: Creon and Haemon.  Spark any ideas you might add to your response?

The Open Response

Posted: February 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

OK, maybe this is a stretch to show “thus conscience does make cowards of us all,” but, man, what a pic!

The third essay on the AP Lit Exam, known as the open response, is where you will write about a novel or play we studied in class.  Many students find this essay more palatable than the poetry and prose close reading essays and it’s the one that you can prepare for the most.  The key is to know your texts well and be able to write about them intelligently.  Remember to imagine your audience read the work, but read it about a year ago: you don’t need to give a full summary, but some reminders and recounting specific details that help your argument is key.  Then be sure to connect devices such as symbols or characters to a specific theme.  For example, you might talk about Fortinbras as a foil for Hamlet in order to highlight the relationship between thought and action, which is furthered by all those soliloquys showing how in modern man conscience acts as a governor to rash action . . . then you have selection of detail like killing Polonius instead of Claudius when acting rashly or the barbaric terms Hamlet uses to describe Claudius as compared to his father (“Hyperion to a satyr”), etc.


Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Of course, you can use Fences, your bildungsroman novel, or your dystopia novel, too, and we’ll add a few more works to your repertoire before the exam.  You can check out all the previous prompts and think about what work, character or device, and theme you’d write about for each.  This is good practice because, while many students find the open response to be the easiest type of essay to write, pulling works and details out of thin air can be overwhelming.   And, to see examples of open response essays, check out College Board and scroll down to “Sample Responses Q3” for each year.   Organization and guidelines are similar to the poetry and prose essays, but here’s some notes just in case you need reminders: Organizational Strategies f0r the open ended question




Posted: January 31, 2019 in Uncategorized


We’re reading August Wilson’s classic, Fences in class.  (beware pop quizzes, mwuahahaha) Here’s a PDF of the script in case you fall behind: fences 

As we read, you’ll need to look up allusions (individually assigned to you in class) and jot down some notes on that allusion in your notebook.  Be prepared to tell the class about your findings and how they add a layer of meaning to the play.

We’ll be talking a lot about symbolism, so you might want to stay up on figurative language: Figurative Language and Characterization and if you’re a little rusty on your drama terms, I have those too: Drama Terms.  

In Act 1, Scene 3 we’ll compare James Earl Jones’ interpretation of the  “How come you ain’t never liked me?” scene with Denzel Washington’s:

You can check out a few more scenes from Broadway’s 2010 revival here.  (Yeah, yeah, I know, there’s a whole movie of it now)

Here’s the symbols and theme worksheet we’ll be working on in class and some notes: Fences Themes

There’s a bunch of criticism you might find helpful in interpreting the play.  After we’re done reading, you’ll be assigned one of the following to read and present to the class: Baseball as History and Myth in August Wilson’s FencesWife as MediatorWalking around Fences, or Wrestling Jacob.  You’ll have to answer these questions: criticism-questions


Here are the imagery and diction warm-ups (for January 7-15) that were handed out in class: imagery warm up

And here is the diction packet we did before that: analyzing diction

We’ll be reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” by  Charlotte Perkins Gilman in class the week of January 14 and I’ll be conducting notebook checks this week too.

Your final group of short stories for the unit are: “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, “Book of Sands” by Jorge Borges, and “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” by Gabriel Garcia MarquezAll three of these must be read BEFORE class on Friday, January 18.