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Summer Reading List 

Advanced Placement English Literature

Summer Reading


Each student enrolled in the AP English Literature class for next year (as explained in the student permission letter) will be required to participate in the summer reading program. There are three parts to this assignment. (A document version of this assignment is available here).


Part I—How to Read Literature Like a Professor


1. Read  How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Revised Edition) by Thomas Foster. Be sure you have the “Revised Edition.” Copies of this book are available in the school library for checkout. Please see Mrs. Spence ASAP to check out this book. You may also purchase it from the book retailer of your choice.


2. Complete the attached guided reading note sheet for How to Read Literature Like a Professor, located here.  Please be sure you fill this out completely, including the extra interesting fact about each chapter. This will be due on August 7, 2017, the first day of school.


Part II—The Importance of Being Earnest


1. Read The Importance of Being Earnest. This is available as a pdf document on my school webpage, located here. You may also buy this novel from the book retailer of your choosing or borrow it from a local library. As you read, keep in mind what you have learned from How To Read Literature Like a Professor. This information will be useful as you complete the remainder of the assignment.


2. Create a dialectical character analysis journal that will explore characterization through Wilde’s dialogue while developing overall themes.


  • Your dialectical character analysis journal should encompass quotes from different areas of the play covering different aspects of characterization. You should clearly label the entry with the character and characteristic you are choosing to focus on for the analysis portion. The minimum requirement is 5 entries per Act (15 total). While you are to cover a variety of characters that add to the play’s theme, it is expected that the most attention be given to the major characters, some even analyzing their dialogue more than once for each scene.


  • Set your journals up as follows:




Use MLA format to cite your quotes.


Here you should include quotes that you find interesting, intriguing, enticing, etc. Look for character quotes that embrace the play’s themes, criticism of society, character development, motifs, etc.



Discuss why the quote is important. How does it portray characteristics of a certain character OR how does it show their development? What does this quote illustrate about a character or his/her motivations? How does it contribute to the work as a whole (theme)? What does it suggest/describe/foreshadow/critique?


The following example is from To Kill a Mockingbird:




“Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough” (Lee 232).

SCOUT – COMING OF AGE (character development)


As this quote is taken from the end of the novel, Lee comes full circle in portraying Scout as an innocent, naïve protagonist to one that has been influenced by the world and has come to form her own opinions. Here, Scout embraces the compassion that the society lacks. At the beginning of the novel, Scout partakes in the mocking of Boo, but after “walking around in [Boo’] shoes,” Scout sees that he is an unfortunately misunderstood character in a gossipy town.


*As you can see in this example, it is evident that the entire novel was read carefully, the quote is carefully analyzed with insightful thought, and the character analysis is detailed.


3. These journals will be graded using the following guidelines:

  • Quotations and Coverage (5 points per entry, 65 points total): You should demonstrate a comprehensive and highly insightful understanding of the significant ideas in quotes. Chosen passages should be worthy of in-depth analysis and should cover the entire scope of the play. Journals need to reflect careful analysis and not, in any way, a summary of the quote and/or book.
  • Interpretation (3 points per entry, 45 points total): This should cover the proficient analysis of Wilde’s use of language, themes, and aspects of the text. Interpretation should show incredible insight and thorough thought.
  • Presentation (2 points per entry, 30 points total): Journals should be neat, organized, and clear. Formatting should not affect clarity. Proficient grammar, mechanics, and sentence structure are expected. Journals that are not typed will lose all 30 presentation points.

4. This assignment is due on August 7, 2017—the first day of class.


Part III—Test and Essay


1. The first week of school, you will complete a test on both How to Read Literature Like a Professor and The Importance of Being Earnest. You will also write an essay applying what you learned from How to Read Literature Like a Professor to the play. Please be prepared to take this test. It will be one of your first major grades for the year.


*The Importance of Being Earnest assignment adapted from Kelley Ridley, English teacher at Delmarva Christian Schools.