Sophomore Reading List

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Featuring:      Where are You Going Where have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates
                      The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
                      We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Poetry by Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Alice Walker, and June Jordan

  • Plath’s poetry as a thematic springboard
  • Review: What does it mean to analyze literature?
  • Literary Devices—an introduction
  • Distinguish between literary devices and literary elements
  • Distinguish between prose and poetry
  • Introduce the confessional poem
  • Humanizing the dehumanized
  • Distinguish between the novel and the short story
  • Deliberate exploration of the interrelationship between devices and elements (notably theme)
  • Elements—Character, Theme (Central themes present in much of what we read this year are established here)
  • Devices—Motif (analyzing the relationship between motifs and themes), Symbolism

Unit Assignments:

  • Visual/Written Creative Piece—exploring multiple means of interpreting literature. Confessional Poems and complementing visual
  • Literary Analysis (2 pages) Thinking beyond the 5-paragraph template

2. 1984 by George Orwell

Featuring:      Politics and the English Language by George Orwell

  • Critical study of language and nonfiction (the newspaper)
  • Contextual influence!
  • Elements—Character, Theme, Setting, Structure, Conflict
  • Devices—Motif, Symbolism, Characterization, Narrative Style, Allusion
  • Literary Analysis (The process with an emphasis on brainstorming and outlining. Emphasis on maintaining cohesion, concision, and clarity across the analysis.)

Unit Assignments:

  • Visual interpretation (Art as Social Commentary)
  • 3-4 page extended analysis

3. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

  • Contextualization (WWII and the bombing of Dresden)
  • Introduction to satire
  • Text to world and text to text emphasis
  • Literature as a means of social change
  • Literary Analysis (The process with an emphasis on brainstorming and outlining. Emphasis on maintaining cohesion, concision, and clarity across the analysis.)
  • Elements—Style, Character, Theme, Conflict (ideologies), Structure
  • Devices—Irony, Sequencing (fragmented structure), Context, Symbolism, Narrative Technique, Metaphor, Context (philosophical influence), Motif

Unit Assignments:

  • 3-4 page analysis. Emphasis placed on the revision process; focused, peer-directed editing
  • Creative Project—Art as Social Commentary Group Project (Satire/Parody emphasis)

4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  • Introduction to the fable
  • Begins a series of “journey” novels
  • Didactic vs Aesthetic Literature Continued
  • Text to Self focus
  • Elements—Conflict, Character, Tone/Mood
  • Devices—Imagery, Personification, Symbolism

Unit Assignment:

  • Comparative Essay Prep

5. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

  • Text to self and text to philosophy emphasis
  • Explore the Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian influences
  • Elements—Character, Theme, Tone
  • Devices—Symbolism (and its thematic relevance), Context

Unit Assignment:

  • Mandala (Creative Project)
  • 3-4 page Comparative Essay (Students choose texts)

6. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Featuring:      The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois (excerpts)

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (excerpts)

                        The Man Who Lived Underground by Richard Wright

                        Poetry by L. Hughes, Claude McKay, Maya Angelou, and Nikki Giovanni

  • Focus on nonfiction
  • An exploration of race in America throughout its history and today.
  • Double Consciousness
  • Engaging in critical discussion using multiple sources

Unit Assignment:

  • 3 page multi-source essay

7. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

  • Revisiting didactic literature
  • Elements—Narrative structure, Context, Conflict
  • Devices—Characterization, Symbolism

* At this point in the year, students are expected to demonstrate sophisticated control of the symbiotic relationship between the devices and elements of literature.

8. No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre

Featuring:     Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

The Ethics of Ambiguity (Excerpts) by Simone de Beauvoir

  • The play vs. the novel
  • Text to self and text to text
  • Elements—Conflict, Thematic/Philosophical connections
  • Devices—Characterization, Symbolism

Unit Assignments:

  • Creative Interpretive Performance—Group Activity
  • 2 Page Critical Lens Essay (multiple sources)

9. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

  • Text to self
  • Theater of the Absurd
  • Elements—Character, Structure, Setting, Theme, Conflict
  • Devices—Tone/Mood, Metaphor, Style, Repetition,
  • Freedom of interpretation

Unit Assignment:


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