What is a work of literary merit?

Metacognitive Journal #3: What is a work of literary merit?

Major Works Data Sheets are due. Please turn them in.

Let’s discuss what consists a work of literary merit, then see what the AP college board has to say.


A Definition of Literary Merit (according to the AP College Board)

The work of literature:

1. Entertains the reader and is interesting to read.

2. Does not merely conform to the expectations of a single genre or formula.

3. Has been judged to have artistic quality by the literary community (teachers, students, librarians, critics, other writers, the reading public).

4. Has stood the test of time in some way, regardless of the date of publication.

5. Shows thematic depth: The themes merit revisiting and study because they are complex and nuanced.

6. Demonstrates innovation in style, voice, structure, characterization, plot and/or description.

7. May have a social, political or ideological impact on society during the lifetime of the author or afterward.

8. Does not fall into the traps of “pulp” fiction such as clichéd or derivative descriptions and plot devices, or sentimentality rather than “earned” emotion.

9. Is intended by the author to communicate in an artistic manner.

10. Is universal in its appeal (i.e., the themes and insights are not only accessible to one culture or time period).


Time to debrief the test over How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

Open-response Essay

Today we’re going to discuss the final type of essay you’ll find on the AP exam: the open-response.  This is an essay which analyzes a topic within the context of an entire text versus the analysis of a passage as we’ve been working on.

To start, I want you to review a chart of open-response prompts.  As you review them, write down novels and plays you’ve read which could work for the prompts.  Be prepared to share your ideas with the class.

All of the prompts request you choose a novel of literary merit.  Let’s review what literary merit means.

To write this essay, you must know the title, author, and names of all of the major characters.  This is where your Major Works Data Sheets will come in handy.

Before the AP test, you should select five texts to know inside and out so that you can pick the most appropriate choice for the prompt on the day of the test.  The five you choose should be from texts you’ve read in this class so they are fresh in your mind and so you have the peace of mind that they are of literary merit.

What are your initial ideas as to how you’d approach the writing of this essay?

If there’s time, let’s do some multiple choice practice.