Sophomore Reading List

Notes on the Reading
The texts in this course range from the deceptively simple to the seemingly insanely incomprehensible. However, part of improving one’s reading skill and learning new ideas requires a willingness to be confused, especially if the ideas that one encounters are vastly different from those the reader already holds. It is imperative that you allow yourself the opportunity to ingest and digest these ideas before allowing any subjective intellectual intolerance to impede the flow of ideas presented in the literature. Furthermore, as you can see, this course is reading intensive (go figure) so be prepared to have your mind blown!

Reading list and assignments may be amended as we go through the year.

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
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (excerpts)
Poetry by Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath
• 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. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Featuring: Politics and the English Language by George Orwell
• Contextualization (WWII and the bombing of Dresden)
• Critical study of language and nonfiction (the newspaper). Language as a tool of oppression and liberation.
• 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)

3. 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

4. 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)

5. 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:
• Memoir
• 3 page multi-source essay

6. 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.

7. No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre
• Complemented by Sartre’s “Existentialism is a Humanism”
• 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)

8. 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:
• PBA

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