Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, 8th Edition ©2007

Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs

Correlated to: AP® English Literature and Composition Exam

All references to CB are to the College Board's publication known as the Acorn Book, which provides a Course Description for the AP® Exam in English Literature and Composition (as well as the AP® Exam in English Language and Composition).

I. The Literature



Roberts and Jacobs include 63 short stories—one in an introductory chapter on "The Process of Reading, Responding to, and Writing About Literature" (1–50); 49 in a nine-chapter section on the various facets of fiction (51–499); 4 in a chapter entitled "A Career in Fiction: A Collection of Stories by Edgar Allan Poe" (500–49); and 10 in a chapter of "Ten Stories for Additional Enjoyment and Study" (550–622).

Quality of Selections: "Recognized Literary Merit" (CB 42)

The College Board provides a list of fiction authors (46) to indicate the possible "range and quality of reading" (45) expected in an AP® course. A similar list is provided in Chapter 8 of this AP help text. Of the 64 authors on this list, 20 are featured in Roberts and Jacobs' Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing.

Raymond Carver (65), Kate Chopin (342), Sandra Cisneros (263), Stephen Crane (561), Ralph Ellison (125), William Faulkner (81, 160), Gabriel García Márquez (390), Nathaniel Hawthorne (395), Ernest Hemingway (303), James Joyce (269), D. H. Lawrence (479), Katherine Mansfield (135), Flannery O'Connor (598), Cynthia Ozick (273), Katherine Anne Porter (411), Mark Twain (320), John Updike (324), Alice Walker (99), Eudora Welty (138), Edith Wharton (361)

The College Board's list is neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. Roberts and Jacobs' Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing includes numerous other fiction writers of "comparable literary merit" (a College Board term which encourages teachers and students to read not only widely but well). Among these other fiction writers:

Alice Adams (218), Ambrose Bierce (227), Anton Chekov (449), Ellen Gilchrist (233), Charlotte Perkins Gilman (588), Shirley Jackson (237), Tillie Olsen (608), Irwin Shaw (276), John Steinbeck (417)

Note also the large number of authors cited under the remaining fiction topics below.

Emphasis on works written in English, with representative British and American authors (CB 43)

The Roberts and Jacobs text includes short stories by these classic American authors.

Kate Chopin (342), Stephen Crane (561, 1178), William Faulkner (81, 160), Nathaniel Hawthorne (395), Ernest Hemingway (303), Flannery O'Connor (599), Katherine Anne Porter (411), Mark Twain (320), John Updike (324), Alice Walker (99), Eudora Welty (138), Edith Wharton (361)

Chapter 11, "A Career in Fiction" (500–49), provides extensive information about four short stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

The text also includes short stories by several classic British authors.

James Joyce (269), D. H. Lawrence (470), Frank O'Connor (314)

Inclusion of representative periods and literary movements: 16th–20th century (CB 43)

Because of the genre's historical development, the editors concentrate on short stories from the 19th- and 20th-centuries.

The Roberts and Jacobs anthology offers a wide variety of choices for the AP® teacher and student—

  • from the high style of Hawthorne ("Young Goodman Brown," 395) to Crane's pioneering Naturalism ("The Blue Hotel," 561);
  • from the simple, clean style pioneered by Hemingway ("Soldier's Home," 303) to the introspective convolutions of Faulkner ("Barn Burning," 160);
  • from the unassuming realism of Steinbeck ("The Chrysanthemums," 417) to more recent experiments in fiction by Ellen Gilchrist ("The Song of Songs," 233), Cynthia Ozick ("The Shawl," 273), and Tim O'Brien ("The Things They Carried," 88).

In the preface to the eighth edition, Roberts' comments that of the 304 authors published in the volume as a whole, 187 were born after 1900, and that of the 85 authors born after 1935, 44 are women (lxx).

Authorial diversity: geographic, cultural, ethnic, stylistic, gender (CB 43)

Among the fiction offerings, Roberts and Jacobs include "The Myth of Atalanta" (386), from the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. To sample the diversity of the fictional offerings, consider the following authors:

Alice Adams (218), Margaret Atwood (1166), Toni Cade Bambara (444), Sandra Cisneros (263), Edwidge Danticat (69), Ralph Ellison (125), Ernest J. Gaines (456), Franz Kafka (404), Charlotte Perkins Gilman (588), Jamaica Kincaid (243), Katherine Mansfield (134), Gabriel García Márquez (390), Americo Parédes (344), Irwin Shaw (276), Leslie Marmon Silko (348), Amy Tan (194), Alice Walker (99, 1247), Mary Yukari Waters (354), Tom Whitecloud (143)



Of the textbook's 2000+ pages, Roberts and Jacobs devote nearly 1900 to literature, 604 of which the editors allot to poetry (659–1262). The poetry section comprises 13 chapters; a typical chapter includes several poems in the early pages of instruction and commentary on a particular aspect of poetry, followed by a group of "Poems for Study," each of which is followed by questions that guide the student to examine it in the light of the chapter focus.

For example, Chapter 18 "Tone: The Creation of Attitude in Poetry" (828–67), opens with 5 poems that illustrate the editors' comments about tone, followed by 22 "Poems for Study." The poetry section closes with Chapter 25, "One Hundred Twenty-Three Poems for Additional Enjoyment and Study" (1159–1255), offering 123 poems by 109 poets.

Quality of Selections: "Recognized Literary Merit" (CB 42)

The College Board provides a list of poets (45) to indicate the possible "range and quality of reading" (45) expected in an AP® course. Of the 47 poets on this list, 35 appear in the Roberts and Jacobs anthology:

W. H. Auden (1023, 1167), Elizabeth Bishop (763, 936), William Blake (697, 733, 766, 838), Anne Bradstreet (1169), Gwendolyn Brooks (884, 1170), Robert Browning (734, 885, 1172), George Gordon, Lord Byron (1174), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (767), Emily Dickinson (670, 887, 1114–23), John Donne (702, 980, 800, 888, 1184–85), T. S. Eliot (770, 889, 1186), Robert Frost (672, 940, 1149–58), Joy Harjo (674, 804), Seamus Heaney (846), George Herbert (774, 934, 944, 986, 1199), Gerard Manley Hopkins (775, 892, 1201), Langston Hughes (805, 847, 893, 1061, 1203, 1701), Ben Jonson (728–29, 1062), John Keats (793, 795, 806, 947, 990, 1063), Philip Larkin (1065), Andrew Marvell (994), John Milton (928, 950), Sylvia Plath (711, 812, 1221), Edgar Allan Poe (507, 518, 522, 528, 900–01, 1221), Alexander Pope (836–37, 852, 904), Adrienne Rich (1226), William Shakespeare (678, 781, 813–14, 930, 954, 1234–35), Percy Bysshe Shelley (679, 908, 955), Leslie Marmon Silko (348, 1236), Alfred, Lord Tennyson (910, 925, 1018), Walt Whitman (816, 932, 997, 1250–52), Richard Wilbur (998, 1253), William Carlos Williams (960, 1026, 1254), William Wordsworth (817, 1083, 1088–1105), William Butler Yeats (860, 999, 1012, 1254)

As a further service to both students and teachers, the editors include a brief biographical sketch of each poet in the anthology. The information is found in Appendix B "Brief Biographies of the Poets in Part III" (2068–2104).

Inclusion of representative periods and literary movements: 16th–20th century (CB 43)

The Roberts and Jacobs anthology offers a rich mixture of poets, primarily British and American. In addition, Chapter 24, "Three Poetic Careers" (1080–1158), focuses on three distinct and significant voices in the poetry of the English language: William Wordsworth, a giant of the early Romantic period in British poetry; Emily Dickinson, a 19th-century Transcendentalist with a voice so spare and modern as to enjoy international stature at the beginning of the 21st century; and Robert Frost, whose New England colloquialism transcends regional and national boundaries 4 decades after his death.

This chapter features 14 poems by Wordsworth (1088–1105), including seven sonnets—affording an AP® class the opportunity to examine the relationship between the sonnet form and the Romantic sensibility. The 25 Dickinson poems (1114–23)—terse, intense, and acerbic—offer a stark contrast to Wordsworth. Frost's classic understatement and his simple, unobtrusive form are on display in 16 poems (1149–58). In addition, Chapter 24 includes six "Edited Selections from Criticism of Dickinson's Poetry, with an Emphasis on Poems Included in This Chapter" (1123–43), allowing the AP® teacher and student to further explore a voice, a period, a style.

With a chapter on "Form: The Shape of the Poem" (923–66), the editors present poems in a wide range of forms, both open and closed.

Finally—with chapters such as "Words: The Building Blocks of Poetry" (688–723), "Prosody: Sound, Rhythm, and Rhyme in Poetry" (868–922), "Symbolism and Allusion: Windows to Wide Expanses of Meaning" (967–1006), and "Myths: Systems of Symbolic Allusion in Poetry" (1007–46)—this textbook allows AP® courses to examine poetry in its many facets.

Authorial diversity: geographic, cultural, ethnic, stylistic, gender (CB 43)

In addition to the great names in poetry, the Roberts and Jacobs anthology includes a rich variety of poets who have made a more recent contribution to the genre. Consider the following:

Maya Angelou (1162), Margaret Atwood (1166), Lucille Clifton (840, 1175–76), Mari Evans (845), Nikki Giovanni (942, 1192), Louise Gluck (737, 983, 1015), Maxine Kumin (709), Li-Young Lee (1205), Audre Lorde (1208), W. S. Merwin (1016, 1212), Liesel Mueller (661, 744, 1068, 1214), Sharon Olds (850, 1070), Marge Piercy (746, 811, 1219–20), Robert Pinsky (851), Luis Omar Salinas (1229), Sonia Sanchez (1230), Gertrude Schnackenberg (1232), Gary Soto (1238–40), Mark Strand (717, 1030), Jean Toomer (957), Tino Villanueva (1245), Alice Walker (99, 1247), Paul Zimmer (1255)



The Roberts and Jacobs textbook include 18 complete plays in 6 chapters (1265–94)—7 one-act plays and 11 full-length dramas—as well as 2 excerpts from screenplays.

Quality of Selections: "Recognized Literary Merit" (CB 42)

The College Board provides a list of dramatists (46) to "indicate the possible range and quality of reading" (43) in an AP® course. Of the 29 authors on this list, 10 appear among the offerings in the Roberts and Jacobs anthology.

Edward Albee, The Sandbox (1283)

Anton Chekov, The Bear (1664)

Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1777)

Henrik Ibsen, A Dollhouse (1873), An Enemy of the People (1922)

Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1508)

Molière, Love Is the Doctor (1646)

Eugene O'Neill, Before Breakfast (1307)

William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1404), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1589)

Sophocles, Oedipus the King (1363)

Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie (1727)

All ten of these playwrights appear regularly on the Open Question Section of the AP® Exam in English Literature and Composition. One of three essays featured yearly on the exam, the Open Question presents a phenomenon characteristic of numerous great works of literature, with a prompt directing the examinee to write an essay using a single work to illuminate the phenomenon in question. The question usually includes a list of appropriate works, along with the proviso that examinees may choose another work of comparable literary merit. That the eight dramatists listed above appear frequently on this list attests to the issue here of "recognized literary merit."

Emphasis on works written in English, with representative British and American authors (CB 43)

Inclusion of representative periods and literary movements: 16th–20th century (CB 43)

Because drama originates with the ancient Greeks and because AP® courses pay homage to the roots of drama, it is fitting that the Roberts and Jacobs anthology includes Oedipus the King as the first play in Chapter 27, "The Tragic Vision: Affirmation Through Loss" (1346–78)—and that the text illustrates the evolution of the tragedy by anthologizing Hamlet to represent Renaissance tragedy and Death of a Salesman to represent tragedy for the 20th century. From the realism of Ibsen to the neo-classicism of O'Neill; from the Restoration comedy of Molière to the 20th-century lyricism of Williams—this textbook admirably represents the richness of the genre. (Page numbers for individual playwrights are listed under preceding topic.)

Authorial diversity: geographic, cultural, ethnic, stylistic, gender (CB 43)

With the 18 full-length works, the Roberts and Jacobs text does an admirable job of addressing the diversity inherent in this genre—including Ancient Greece, Renaissance England, Restoration France, late 19th-century Norway, and 20th-century America. With Edward Albee (1283), Susan Glaspell (1291), Lorraine Hansberry (1777), Beth Henley (1674), Langston Hughes (1702), and Betty Keller (1283), the editors further exemplify the diverse expressions of the genre.


Because AP® literature courses—much like introductory literature courses at the college level—focus on fiction, poetry, and drama, the Roberts and Jacobs anthology does the same. The textbook does not include a separate section devoted to the study of nonfiction / the essay.

Three times, the editors present nonfiction excerpts from literary criticism. Chapter 11, "A Career in Fiction: A Collection of Stories by Edgar Allan Poe" (500–49) reprints 12 "Edited Selections from Criticism of Poe's Fiction" (532–49). Chapter 24 (which focuses on Wordsworth, Dickinson, and Frost) reprints 6 excerpts from criticism on Dickinson (1123–48). Finally, Chapter 31, "A Career in Drama: Henrik Ibsen" (1867–1994), includes 5 excerpts from the available criticism on Ibsen (1976–94).

II. Support materials for instruction in reading and writing

Organization and sequencing of contents: to support instruction in "the experience of literature, the interpretation of literature, and the evaluation of literature" (CB 42)

The Roberts and Jacobs anthology begins with an "Introduction: The Process of Reading, Responding to, and Writing About Literature" (1–50). Here the editors offer advice and instruction in how students can increase their awareness of what they experience as they read and how they can articulate their experience of literature, expand the ways in which they experience literature, and begin to analyze their experience of literature. To model this kind of experience, the editors reprint Guy de Maupassant's seminal short story, "The Necklace" (5–11)—annotated in the margins with the kind of reader-response observations that can increase readers' awareness of their experience of literature and develop the rudiments of analysis and evaluation. The introductory chapter continues, with explicit instructions and examples of student entries in "Reading and Responding in a Notebook or Computer File" (12–14), followed by detailed instructions on the "how-to" of writing a first essay about literature (14–49).

With the introductory cornerstone in place, the editors begin each major section—fiction, poetry, and drama—with an overview of the genre, guiding students through a conscious experience of their reading and moving toward a piece of writing that articulates the essence of the reading experience. Subsequent chapters offer guidance in the analysis of discrete elements of the genre in question. The textbook is explicit and thorough on the subject of analysis, although it does not address evaluation per se. It should be noted, however, that analysis—"the interpretation of literature"—is the cornerstone of an AP® literature course.

The fiction section begins with "Fiction: An Overview" (53–61), including student essays that illustrate provide examples of responding to literature (35–48). Subsequent chapters guide students through recognition and analysis of the elements of short fiction with representative stories to serve as examples: structure (112–52), character (153–208), point of view (209–57), setting (258–94), style (295–335), tone (336–79), symbolism (380–437), and theme (438–99).

The poetry section begins with "Meeting Poetry: An Overview" (659–87), including direct instruction in how to read a poem (665–66) paraphrasing a poem (680–82) and writing an explication (682–83). The following 10 chapters guide students through analysis of such elements as diction (688–723), imagery (758–89), figures of speech (790–827), symbolism and allusion (967–1006), and meaning (1047–79).

The drama section begins with "The Dramatic Vision: An Overview" (1265–1345), with direct instruction in writing (1337–45). Subsequent chapters address analysis of tragedy (1346–1578), comedy (1579–1695), dramatic reality and non-reality (1696–1842), and the drama of screenwriting (1843–67). To provide students with further practice in "the experience of literature, the interpretation of literature, and the evaluation of literature," the Roberts and Jacobs text culminates each genre section with chapters designed to build on the skills covered thus far. The fiction section culminates with a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories and criticism (500–49), followed by "Ten Stories for Additional Enjoyment and Study" (550–622). Similarly, the poetry section closes with "Three Poetic Careers: William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost" (1080–1158) and "One Hundred Twenty-Three Poems for Additional Enjoyment and Study" (1159–1255). The drama section concludes with two plays by Ibsen, with a sampling of the relevant criticism (1867–1994).

Direct instruction in writing in these three modes

The Roberts and Jacobs anthology begins with direct instruction in the basics of writing about literature. (See the first paragraph above, under "Organization and sequencing of contents.") In addition, each chapter offers concise instruction in writing about the literary element in question. Finally, Chapter 33 offers guided instruction in a literary essay of comparison-contrast (2034–50).

Writing assignments that direct students in the practice of these three modes

Chapters typically close by focusing on a particular writing activity, arranged by the editors in three logical steps:

  1. Brief instruction on the activity in question.
  2. A sample student essay to model the focal activity, including the editors' comments on the essay.
  3. A list of writing topics that ask the student to practice examining literature from the perspective of the chapter in question.

Chapter 10, for example, examines "Idea or Theme: The Meaning and the Message in Fiction" (439–99). As the chapter closes, the editors offer instruction in "Writing about a Major Idea in Fiction" (493–95), followed by a student essay examining meaning in a Toni Cade Bambara short story (495–98), with the editors' commentary on the student essay (498)—and, finally, five "Special Topics for Writing and Argument About Ideas" (498–99).

Student-written essays that model these three modes

Chapters that focus on a particular facet of the genre in question include one or two student-written essays that examine a piece of literature from the perspective under examination. Each student essay takes its place in this structure, and is provided under the heading of "Writing About … " assignments. The introductory chapter offers two student essays. Chapters 2–10 and 12, on fiction—as well as Chapters 13–23 and 25A, on poetry, and Chapters 26–30 and 31A, on drama—offer additional student essays. Chapter 31A, on research, and Chapter 33, on comparison-contrast, joins the group.

A discrete writing handbook section suitable for the AP® student

The introductory chapter (1–50)—discussed in detail above—offers the kind of structure and instruction worthy of a good writing handbook.

The closing section of the textbook—"Special Writing Topics About Literature" (2009–61)—offers three chapters of useful information for the student writer in an AP® literature course.

  • In Chapter 32 (2011–33), Roberts and Jacobs offer thumbnail sketches of ten "Critical Approaches Important in the Study of Literature"—providing a genuine service to the AP® teacher and student.
  • Chapter 33 (2034–50) offers explicit instruction in the comparison-contrast essay.
  • Chapter 34 (2051–61) offers brief but useful advice on "Writing Examinations on Literature."

A glossary and/or index of literary terms

The Roberts and Jacobs text offers a "Glossary of Literary Terms" (2105–30)—handy and accessible definitions suitable for the AP® student. The terms themselves are discussed in context; in addition, page numbers are provided for reference—making them all the more useful for instruction in an AP® course.

Instruction and support materials for the teaching of research

Three chapters offer guidance in research:

  • Chapter 12A (623–56) about fiction
  • Chapter 25A (1256–62) about poetry
  • Chapter 31A (1995–2008) about drama

Appendix A (2062–67) offers concise but useful information in documenting sources.

III. Miscellaneous features

Table of contents

The Roberts and Jacobs text offers two variations on the table of contents:

  • The standard table of contents (v–viii) showcases the editors' genre approach. By using variations in typeface (boldface, italics, all-caps, varying font sizes) and by using white space judiciously, the editors make the various contents accessible at a rapid glance.
  • A thematic table of contents (ix–li) assists teachers and students who prefer a thematic approach to literature. Each theme is subdivided by genre-stories, poems, plays and art.


The textbook includes an "Index of Authors, Titles, and First Lines" (2141–57).

Instructor's Manual

Like the textbook itself, the instructor's manual is comprised of three major sections and a fourth shorter section: "Fiction" (8–132), "Poetry" (131–435), "Drama" (436–552), and "Special Writing Topics About Literature" (553–59). The manual itself is paginated on the bottom outer page corners; top outer page corners are annotated with the correlating page numbers of the textbook itself.

The fiction section follows the order of the textbook, with the editors offering comments on the stories, answers to the study questions, and comments on the writing topics. Showing considerable thought for the literature teacher, the editors close their handling of each story with a list of works for comparison-by author, title, and page number.

The poetry section also follows the order of the textbook, with similar offerings for the anthologized poems. AP® teachers will discover a real boon to their teaching with "Resources for Poetry" (422–35), an extensive listing of Web site listings and audio resources for 76 of the textbook's anthologized poets.

The drama section offers commentary on each author and each play, as well as discussion of questions and writing topics.

The editors offer brief comments on the chapters of the writing section.

The companion Web site, an online study guide to accompany the eighth edition, offers AP® students valuable supplemental information and activities directly related to the contents of the text book, and serves as a gateway to electronic literary research and a chance to communicate with other students of literature.

Prentice Hall School Division will provide access to the password-protected premium Web site to high school customers who have purchased the high school edition of Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Eighth Edition. Access to the most current edition of the Web site will be renewable annually.

After logging on, students will arrive at a homepage offering a quick, accessible overview of the site, with two options available for instruction and enrichment:

  • Selecting an author for further study.
  • Selecting a chapter from the textbook—for guided commentary and further study.

Selecting an author takes students to a page that offers:

  • A thumbnail biography.
  • Links to a "Comprehension Quiz" and "Essay Questions" for the relevant story, poem, or play included in the Roberts and Jacobs text.
  • Links to reliable Web sites offering further biographical and bibliographical information as well as pertinent literary criticism. These Web sites, of course, offer further links to the research-minded student.

Selecting a chapter takes students to a page that offers:

  • Timeline
    This option takes students to a colorful, dynamic timeline covering the most recent 500 years of British and U.S. history. Students may view the timeline from three perspectives: Politics, International Affairs, or Society and Culture. With each choice, the timeline is marked by a number of significant events. Clicking on a particular event typically links students to a page offering a thumbnail sketch, relevant images, and numerous links for further research. This timeline offers invaluable enrichment for the AP® student.
  • Chapter Authors
    This option is discussed above.
  • Writing About…
    This option offers students guided instruction linked to one of four introductory chapters in the Roberts and Jacobs text: Chapter 1, with its introduction to literature; Chapter 2, with its overview of fiction; Chapter 13, poetry; and Chapter 26, drama. Each chapter web page offers several textboxes allowing students to compose as they follow guided advice on writing. Students can print these textboxes or—with participating classes—send them to their teachers for feedback.
  • Writing Workshops
    This option offers three student essays: one on fiction, one on poetry, one on drama. A photograph and thumbnail biography of the student author accompany each essay. In addition, the student can see each essay in three versions: a first draft, a second draft, and the final paper. Each draft is presented in a facsimile, with instructor's comments marked in red. Further, the first and second drafts are linked to a detailed commentary by the instructor. Finally, students with sophisticated computers can hear the student writer's thoughts on the original writing assignment.
  • Message Board
    This option allows students to post messages and/or questions to a national audience.
  • I-Chat
    This option allows students to participate in impromptu dialogues. Better yet, students and/or teachers can use I-Chat to schedule class discussions.

Companion Web site

For students struggling to adjust to the demands of an AP® environment, the Web site offers the kind of basic guidance, support, and practice in analytical thinking and writing skills that can lead to genuine academic success. Further, the Web site serves as a vehicle that can take students to a broader, deeper understanding of literature and its vital role in our world.

AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this site.