AP Lit Summer Assignment


Welcome to AP Literature! I’m looking forward to a great year. Most of you were in AP Comp last year, so you have some idea of the rigor of this type of class, but let me give you a little introduction to AP Lit: AP Lit. is, in part, about catching up on 500 years (give or take a couple centuries) of the most influential literature from around the world (but mostly America and Europe). It’s an impossible task, but we’re going to do our best to catch the high points. To get a jump on our quest, you are required this summer to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

If you do not have a copy of the book, free online copies can be found at any of the links below:




Please note: I have not read through each of these versions fully and cannot attest to their accuracy. Occasional errors occur when digitizing books.

We will begin our year discussing this text, so you should have it read by our first day of class. You will also be required to hand in an essay on the first day of class in which you’ve analyzed some aspect of this text. This is explained below in detail. Until then, have a great summer, enjoy the novel (it’s really quite depressing, actually), and be safe! Feel free to email me with any questions: mgerhauser@cmschools.org or check my website for information: www.sites.google.com/site/mrgerhauser

Writing Assignment:

After reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, write a two to four page paper responding to one of the following three prompts. Your essay should be typed (12-pt font), printed, double-spaced, and handed in the first day of class.

Note: Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a novel. That is, it’s fiction. It never really happened. These characters never really existed - although Stowe was careful in her research and many of the events depicted are based on actual events or were (unfortunately) all too common in American life in the mid-19th century. Just keep this in mind when discussing the text.

1 – Stowe certainly doesn’t shy away from religion in her text. In a well-written and original essay, analyze how she uses (or even manipulates) religion to achieve her purpose. Note: this is not merely an essay pointing out examples of religious references in her text. You must identify her purpose for writing and then analyze how her use of religious imagery, symbolism, allusion, etc. helps her achieve that purpose.

2 – The 19th century saw tremendous growth in the popularity of “serial novels.” Research, briefly, what a serial novel is, then in a well-developed essay, discuss the unique structural considerations of a serialized novel. Select at least three chapters from Uncle Tom’s Cabin and discuss the structural techniques Stowe employs and consider their effectiveness. You should also consider how these chapters fit into the work as a whole.

Note: This essay is asking you to consider the structure of a novel - in particular, plot structure (considering use of rising action, climax, and resolution) but also the introduction of places and events and the coherence of characters. You should have a clear claim in your introduction about the structure of serial novels. Your body paragraphs should use examples from the text to support your claims.

3 - This novel was written a long time ago, but race in America is still a hot issue. How does Uncle Tom’s Cabin fit into it all? What do people mean today when they call someone an “Uncle Tom”? Is that a fair depiction of the character in the text? why/ why not? Does this novel still have a place in the conversation about race in our nation?

Note: This essay is intended to be a bit more fluid in its scope. You have some creative discretion in where you choose to take this topic; however, your final essay should convey a cultural and historical awareness of the text and demonstrate that you’ve actually read it.

Please note: any student caught plagiarizing any part of his/her essay will be subject to immediate removal from the class.

See you soon!

Mr. Gerhauser