AP English Language & Composition Summer Assignment

Let’s start our journey toward rhetoric and reading and richer understanding of the voice and value in the American thought-scape.  In addition to reading works of fiction, this course will examine topics and arguments in public  discourse. Understanding the issues and the strategies writers use involves reading widely and  from a variety of perspectives, including about issues and topics of interest in fields such as science, economics, and psychology.

Start with reading the following four essays.

Then, answer the following questions for each essay:

  1. What is the main idea? (write a brief summary of the article and note the main idea)
  2. How does the writer establish and support their central claims?
  3. What do you find particularly surprising or compelling?
  4. What are you curious to know more about?
  5. What areas are impacted by the essay?  (education, politics, environment etc.)


  1. “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)
  2. “When It’s Bad To Have Good Choices” by Maria Konnikova (New Yorker, 2014)
  3. “Why It's a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence” by Jonathan Haidt and Greg  Lukianoff (Atlantic, 2017)
  4. Ghosts” by Vauhini Vara (Believer, 2021) or Act One of “The Ghost in the Machine” by Tobin Low (This American Life, Dec. 2021)

Consider one issue or topic addressed in one of the above essays that interests you. Locate at least four substantial pieces that address this topic (at least 300 words long—no maximum length; one source may be a comic or political cartoon OR a podcast episode).  Hyperlink the four pieces in the same place you answered the question above.  Write a brief summary of each piece.

Focus on argument or opinion pieces, not news stories or informational articles. Aim to select pieces that address a range of opinions or perspectives about the topic. The goal is to see ways  this issue is addressed and discussed by people who may have different perspectives and/or  agendas. Make sure to draw from at least two different sources or publications.

Suggestions for sources: 

  • The Atlantic (US ideas magazine)
  • The Economist (UK news magazine)
  • The Washington Post (US newspaper)
  • The Guardian (UK newspaper)
  • Time (US news magazine)
  • The New York Times (US newspaper)
  • The New Yorker (US ideas magazine)

NOTE: Sports, lifestyle, or popular culture/entertainment magazines are not recommended unless  the writing you are using from them is substantial and develops an opinion or argument.

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