Coming into AP Literature, I was eagerly anticipating the reading of great works like Shakespeare and Hemingway. I haven’t been disappointed. My first semester in this class has reinvented the way I view English learning and literature, because the tools, such as TPCASTT and SOAPStone, has shown me how much I have missed before. In Unit 1, I initially struggled quite a bit with analyzing and writing poems. However, through assignments like the Great Poets Reflection, the Q1 Final Draft, Great Poets Teaching Project, I have witnessed improvement in my Unit 1 skills. In the Great Poets Reflection, even though it was short, I was able to show that I can pick out the key trends and symbols that Wright employs in his poems, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do before this semester. I have never examined a poet at such depth before, and this reflection showed me that I can identify a poet’s writing style and what meaning that adds to his/her final product, especially when compared to poems from other poets about the same subject. This unit’s strong emphasis on discerning allusions within texts also helped me find allusions to a famous Chinese poet, Du Fu, in my poet’s works, when he used similar poetic techniques and thoughts.
The APL:U1: AP Q1 Final Draft was possibly the greatest example of my growth over Unit 1. I felt discouraged initially when I got back my first draft in class because I thought it had done a good job comparing the poems given by the prompt. However, as time went on and I learned more material, I realized that my old techniques of analyzing poems only limited me to a superficial level. I really appreciated the rewrite as an opportunity to build on my old understandings and to take me to a higher level. When I went back to my first draft, I saw that I had completely overlooked the central message of both poems since I didn’t realize the characters that both poets were calling out to (Douglass and Milton), were both dead. The feedback given to me for this assignment was that I had expanded far too much on the points that were not as significant as I first thought. For example, I emphasized a lot on their diction, like how Wordsworth used words like “fen” and “swamp” to describe the state of England. When I went back to do the rewrite, I completely revamped the essay to include less about diction and more about style and tone, while using poetic devices as supporting evidence to those two topics above. Talking more about style and tone was what you emphasized in class, and my growth in this Unit 1 is shown by refocusing my essay in this manner. It was hard for me to incorporate elements from my first draft because of how much my understanding changed over this unit.
For Unit 2, I am particularly proud of my DragonNotes video project and my short story interpretation. I had encountered very few short stories in the past, and this unit really opened my eyes towards not only interpreting them but appreciating them as well. In my DragonNotes project, the format we chose forced us to take a creative approach in approaching the short story itself, as it required us to take the most critical elements and themes and make it into a song. I believe this project demonstrated my growth and improvement in standards such as SC1.1 and SC1.2, beyond the levels that I had shown with my APL: U1: Q3 Diagnostic, even though that I received both EEs on that assignment as well. For example, with the lyric writing that went into this project, I showed that I was able to form coherent ideas with a limiting structure. Reading through “You’re Ugly, Too” taught me what it meant to analyze a character-driven rather than plot-driven story, because these stories are showing, rather than telling, making it harder to determine what the message the author is trying to send. Furthermore, the advanced themes I discussed such as a nihilistic worldview were far more advanced than what I was able to deduce before. I was also able to link this to the use of irony, showing my ability to connect various textual details to form a complete analysis of a literary work. Outside of literary sense, I am pleased with my ability to use my audio and visual skills to create a product that was polished and informative. Overall, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do a project that pushed me beyond my literary comfort zone. I think that it is a prominent milestone in my literature learning, where I showed that I am able to adapt the techniques we learn in class to suit any project.
Similar to the Unit 1 Final Draft, the short story interpretation was also a great source of growth in my literature learning. In my first final draft, I was far too ambiguous and convoluted when I was describing the textual details that William Faulkner used in his “A Rose for Emily” short story. As an example, I talked about structure, style, and theme all in separate paragraphs. This structure prevented me from describing how these specific textual details contributed to the story’s message itself, which I learned should be the main focus of any essay of this nature. Additionally, the way I organized the analysis in my first final draft was problematic because I wrote about less important details first, making it hard for you to tell what my message was. The second final draft I wrote is a testament to the growth I have experienced over Unit 2 because I felt like it was far more coherent and organized, as well as using the textual details I discovered just as evidence for my thesis rather than making them the main focus of the essay itself. For example, my thesis in my second final draft was that Faulkner was using Emily as a symbol to represent the decadence of the Old South’s values. I used advanced elements from the story as evidence to support my claims, such as analyzing how Faulkner’s use of “we” as the pronoun was actually a manifestation of his perspective and lens when at a superficial level the use of “we” is meant to echo the townspeople’s perspective towards Emily. Other points such as symbolism and sub-topics like the issue of race within the story helped me solidify my argument and is representative of growth in my ability to holistically analyze details in short stories.
While I haven’t gotten any summative assignments back for Unit 3, the experience of reading Hamlet both in class and out of class has immersed me in the world of Shakespeare. His use of language and plot device taught me the complexity that can be embodied in only dialogue between characters, as well as how different subplots are intricately tied in to make a very intriguing story. Furthermore, I have gotten more comfortable with reading the type of English I don’t get to encounter on a regular basis. I anticipate that I will gain a whole new lens and perspective of analyzing literature from this unit, and I am excited about the possibilities that hold. I look forward to understanding more about Hamlet itself and other plays, especially since this is a type of literature I haven’t had the chance to enjoy up to this point.
I believe my first semester in AP Literature has been a tremendously rewarding and enriching experience. I came into this course expecting that I would learn the fine details about analyzing and appreciating all types of literature, and I think the assignments I have done over this semester have strongly demonstrated my growth and learning. Through rewrites, reflections and projects, I have gained first-hand experience in not only methods to comprehend literature, but also applying it in various situations. The application aspect is what I want to take away from this course, and I hope to continue building on these skills through other types of literature next semester.
Process paper: APL:U1: AP Q1 Final Draft (9/28/18)
Click here first the first draft, final draft, rubric, and feedback
When I got my first draft in class, I was a bit discouraged at what I had received because during the assignment itself I felt confident putting the words down on the page. However, this rewrite was a fantastic opportunity for me to go over my mistakes carefully and see what I needed to improve on. I realized that I had made some pretty significant mistakes, such as completely missing the main message of both the poems (not realizing that Douglass and Milton were already dead and they were being idolized) and not looking closely enough at the poetic structures that both authors were implying. I thought the feedback I received on my first draft was quite accurate, which was that I wrote and expanded too much on points that were not as significant as I made them out to be. I had written far too much on a single topic, specifically how Wordsworth uses words like “fen” and “swamp” to describe the state of England. On the rewrite, I dramatically reduced the portion of the essay dedicated to the diction and chose to focus on style and tone a lot more, allowing me to talk broader and give a balanced analysis of both poems. As an example, I chose to write about how the styles of diction contributed to the tone of the poems and comparing the two poets based on that rather than fixating on the diction itself, which is quite shallow-minded. The rewrite opened my eyes to how much I missed on my first time. For example, it was difficult trying to incorporate elements of my first draft into the second because of how wrong it was. I believe that the rewrite is representative of the growth in poetry analysis I have experienced over the course of Unit 1 and I hope to expand on this knowledge more in the future.
For this in-class writing, I chose to write about “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, a required novel I read back in Humanities I. I still remembered a lot about that book because it had quite a profound impact on me, with its gripping plot and Okonkwo’s character development. I treated this assignment like writing an AP Lang paper as I didn’t quite know how Q3 for AP Lit was supposed to be written. I felt that the prompt fit perfectly with Okonkwo’s character development, which allowed me to write a fluent and coherent topic using this book. It also showed me that my organization for this paper worked as well, which means I will be using the same technique in the future. But this diagnostic also showed me what I needed to improve and get better at in the future. For example, when I looked at the suggested works on the first page of the assignment, I realized that I actually knew very little about many of the works and that I needed to work hard to familiarize myself with classic texts in order to do a good job on future Q3s and the exam itself. I am looking forward to the short stories unit, as it is a whole unit dedicated to learning about these classic works that I never really got the time or had the motivation to study before.
I chose to put this piece of work into my Unit 1 Portfolio because I think it shows my growth over the course of this unit. The subject in question was my chosen poet, Charles Wright, and this short yet thoughtful reflection on his works shows that I am able to pick out the key trends and symbols that Wright employs in his poets–something I wouldn’t have been able to do before this unit. Never before have I examined and analyzed a poet at this depth and level, and doing this reflection showed me that a particular author’s writing style adds a layer of uniqueness and meaning that can only be derived from his/her writing, even though the same topic might have been written about by other poets. Something that surprised me was Wright’s allusions to a famous Chinese poet, using similar poetic techniques and thoughts. I never knew that there could be a connection between Western and Eastern poets because poetry is so unique in every language that I didn’t think it could be ported between languages. I really enjoyed the Great Poets project because it was a chance, a systematic opportunity, to explore some great poetry. I have merely scratched the surface with my readings of great poetry in this unit, but I can already start to see how beautifully great poets can manipulate words and structures to craft art.
Essential Question: Can I invite others in to see the world through my own original poetry?
To jump straight into this unit at the beginning of the year was a challenge for me. I had always shunned poetry before because I had a preconception of poetry being very opaque and hard to understand. However, this unit was a big eye-opener for me, because only through this unit was I able to get in-depth with the exact connotation and nuances of every word of a poem. The first time we shared our poetry with each other was a harrowing experience–I felt scared that other people were going to see what I wrote from the bottom of my heart. It felt like I was being exposed and out in the open, but in actuality, all of my classmates were very kind in giving me constructive feedback and compliments where it was deserved. After this first poetry-sharing session, I felt a lot more at ease inviting my peers to see my poetry. My first poem, “The Summit”, kind of missed the point of it being a personal introspection piece because I focused on the dramatics of the moment. I thought that the poetic techniques used in “The Summit” were quite simplistic and weren’t able to convey as much meaning as I intended. However, I conveyed a highly visual experience through the wording of “The Summit”, and is something I hope to continue working on because it is an important skill to paint an accurate picture of one’s mind through poetry. My second poem, “Lost In A Book”, was my first attempt to look into myself and reflect on one of my favorite past times: reading. I employed a wide variety of metaphors and similes to create abstract and concrete imagery to show my thoughts about reading a book. The stanza divisions were meant to separate ideas and to reflect on different aspects of reading a book. However, I realized that this poem was still a bit lacking in the structural department–that is, all the clever techniques (not necessarily ideas) that poets use to make their poetry more enticing and gripping to the listener. Through the writing of these two poems (an activity I had rarely engaged in before), I became much more confidence and found enjoyment in taking these small steps into poetry. My second poem was a better attempt to capture my own perception of the world–perhaps my worldview–which is something that is intensely personal and not available to be observed by anyone else. Writing poetry has taught me the intimacy in this form of writing because of its loaded and condensed form. Long prose can be very explanatory, whereas poetry forces the poet to try to embed meaning through a careful picking of vocabulary and organization of structure. I believe that this unit has taught me what it meant to invite other people to see the world through my eyes with poetry, and these writing exercises have helped me get better at it. I hope to be able to hone my poetry writing skills in the future as well, as I had greatly enjoyed doing it in this unit.
For reference (Lost In A Book): Click here