AP English Lit

AP English Lit and Comp

Summer Reading

Mrs. Michelle Wooding [email protected]

First, let me say that I am happy that you have chosen to enroll in AP English Literature and Composition. By doing so, you have shown that you are ready and willing to take on the challenges of a rigorous curriculum. To begin our year, I would like you to read two literary works over the summer. They are:

The Cider House Rules by John Irving

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Assignment #1: You should prepare to discuss ten quotes from ONE of the novels. To be ready for this, you should write out the quotes you have selected (keep them fairly short/ include page numbers/ or chapter # if you’re using an e-reader) and explain why you think the quotes are significant (explanations should be 4-8 sentences and should not focus on plot summary). Please be aware that a “quote” does not have to be character dialogue—it can be any passage that you feel is significant. Please make sure your quotes are selected throughout the novel (rather than only the beginning or end).

Assignment #2: Choose one of the following prompts for the book you didn’t use for assignment #1. Essay should be 2 pages, typed, double-spaced.

  1. In retrospect, the first chapter of a novel or the opening scene of a drama introduces some of the major themes of the work. Write an essay about the opening scene of a drama or the first chapter of a novel in which you explain how it functions in this way.
  2. Select an important character who is an antagonist. Then, in a well-organized essay, analyze the nature of the character's villainy and show how it enhances the meaning of the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.
  3. Choose a conflict between a parent (or a parental figure) and a son or daughter. Write an essay in which you analyze the sources of the conflict and explain how the conflict contributes to the meaning of the work
  4. Past events can affect, positively or negatively, the present actions, attitudes, or values of a character. Find a part in the novel when a character must contend with some aspect of the past, either personal or societal. Then write an essay in which you show how the character’s relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.
  5. Some novels and plays seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions. Note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify. Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader’s or audience’s views. Avoid plot summary.

The following prompts apply specifically to The Importance of Being Earnest

  1. Wilde suggests that his Victorian contemporaries should treat trivial matters with greater respect and pay less attention to what society then regarded as serious. Discuss how Wilde expresses this philosophy and comment on the effectiveness with which he has communicated his 'message' with reference to ONE of the following in the play: death, politics, money, property, food, or marriage.
  2. Otto Reinert claims that "Wilde's basic formula for satire is [his characters'] assumption of a code of behavior that represents the reality that Victorian convention pretends to ignore" (15). Reinert argues that in this play Wilde is principally concerned with the difference between conventional and actual manners and morality. Discuss these points, then refine this "formula for satire" into an essay topic.
  3. According to Karl Beckson, "Central to Wilde's life and art was the idea of the dandy as the embodiment of the heroic ideal as well as of the aesthetic temperament hostile to bourgeois sentiment and morality" (205). Which of the characters in the play embodies this aesthetic principle, and how? From your consideration of these characters' utterances and actions develop an appropriate essay topic.

DUE ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24th (yes, I realize that this is before school starts, but welcome to AP!) SUBMITTED via email (or shared in Google Docs) to Mrs. Wooding before midnight.

Please submit everything as one document (quotes & essay).

As you write your responses, be mindful of all of the conventions of good writing that you've learned up to this point in your education and be sure that you adhere to these conventions. Additionally, be ready to discuss these two novels in the first week we come back to school.

I look forward to hearing and reading about your reactions to these works. With dedication on both your part and mine, we should have a rewarding year in AP English Literature.

Have a great summer and enjoy your reading.