Ooh, Lordy, that was an exhausting week at the AP Summer Institute! Here's how tired I was: In the three-hour drive home, I had to pull over into a rest stop and take a 45-minute nap. And then I slept over ten hours last night, and then napped from 1 to 5 p.m. the next day. Yeah, I think I was a little tired.
Some of the tiredness is just from the hard-as-rock mattresses, even though my brilliant plan to use a sleeping bag as a mattress topper did help. Some of it is just the overload of being in social situations. I'm pretty much smack-dab in the middle between extroversion and introversion; I certainly speak up and participate in class discussions, but then the strain of chatting with folks at meals and in the evening social situations kind of wore me out. Fortunately, there were some very outgoing people in my AP Lit class who would call me and other folks over to join them at a table, which helped with the social awkwardness.
Anyway, one of the great things about the workshop was that the guru-in-charge was very permission-giving about including contemporary literature in place of some of the "classics" we might be feeling pressured to teach. We learned that the AP Lit exam has been including more recent literature, both in its poems and prose passages to explicate and its suggestions for literature in the open-ended essay question. Our guru also stressed the less-is-more philosophy; AP Lit is not a forced march through one great book after another.
So after I did all my napping this weekend, I rethought the book choices I'd made earlier in the summer. (I'm so lucky that I got special dispensation to order my books after I got back from the AP workshop. Whew!) As you may recall from way back in the fall, we redid our senior courses for next year, and one change we made was to offer multiple sections of AP Lit with different themes, making them more like college English courses. The AP Lit course I'll be offering is on "Crime and Punishment, with "crime" defined variously during the year. So here's the current list:
Crime and Punishment -- AP Literature
- Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
- Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Throughout the year:
- Short stories (photocopied)
- Poetry -- Michael Meyer, ed., Poetry: An Introduction, 7th ed.
- Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler
- Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray and "Ballad of Reading Gaol"
- Moises Kaufman, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
- Nella Larsen, Passing
- Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor Was Divine
Spring term is lighter because we'll be doing a lot of poetry, plus exam prep, and then the exam is in early May. And then I'll lose a bunch of the students afterward to senior projects, so I'm thinking about having my remaining students read the mystery novel of their choice as a fun ending to our year of thinking about crime and punishment. And I've got an idea for a long-term writing project that I'm not quite ready to go public with.
Do you all see any red flags? Any obvious omissions?