College Board
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  • The AP English Literature and Composition course is designed to help you engage in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, you can deepen your understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. In the course, you’ll learn to consider a work's structure, style, and themes, as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.


    The AP English Literature and Composition course is intended to give you the experience of a typical introductory-level literary analysis course in college. The course includes intensive study of representative works from various genres, periods, and cultures, concentrating on works of recognized literary merit. Reading in the course builds on the reading done in your previous English courses. Although the course will cover several literary texts, you will also have the opportunity to get to know a few works well. In the course, you will learn to read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work's complexity, to absorb its richness of meaning, and to analyze how that meaning is embodied in literary form. In addition to considering a work's literary artistry, you will also learn to consider the social and historical values it reflects and embodies. Careful attention to both textual detail and historical context provides a foundation for interpretation of the text.


    The close reading described above involves the experience, interpretation, and evaluation of literature. All these aspects of reading are important in the AP English Literature and Composition course, and each corresponds to an approach to writing about literary works. Writing to understand a literary work may involve writing response and reaction papers along with annotation, freewriting, and keeping some form of a reading journal. Writing to explain a literary work involves analysis and interpretation and may include writing brief, focused analyses on aspects of language and structure. Writing to evaluate a literary work involves making and explaining judgments about its artistry and exploring its underlying social and cultural values through analysis, interpretation, and argument.

    Writing is an integral part of the AP English Literature and Composition course and of the AP Exam. Writing assignments in the course will address the critical analysis of literature and will include expository, analytical, and argumentative essays. In addition to the critical analyses you will write, creative-writing assignments will help you see from the inside how literature is written. The goal of both types of writing assignments is to increase your ability to explain clearly, cogently, and even elegantly what you understand about literary works and how you interpret them.

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