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College of Arts & Sciences
First-Year English


Critical Reading and Composition


English 101 is designed to offer students structured, sustained practice in critical reading, textual analysis and composing. During the semester, students read challenging texts in a variety of genres and then write expository and analytical essays in response to them. Through these reading and writing assignments, students explore the interconnectedness of reading and writing and learn how to use both reading and writing as venues for inquiry, learning, interpretation, and communication.

Learning Outcomes


While instructors’ approaches vary somewhat, all sections of 101 share some common learning outcomes. During the semester, students:

  • Encounter a variety of challenging texts representing a range of literary and non-literary genres.
  • Learn and practice strategies for reading carefully, closely, and critically.
  • Work through a full range of writing processes including invention, planning, drafting, revision, and editing in order to produce effective college-level essays.
  • Develop, organize, and produce effective expository and analytical essays. Become acquainted with conventions for summarizing, paraphrasing, and documenting reading material in accordance with MLA guidelines.
  • Develop a clear, effective writing style that is free of major errors and appropriate for academic audiences.


Assignments and Coursework

Students develop critical reading and analytical abilities not by listening to an instructor lecture, but through frequent and intensive practice. During the semester, English 101 students complete a minimum of 20-30 pages of finished, polished writing.
Student should expect to:

  • Compose frequent short pieces that reinforce close, critical reading processes and thoughtful composing processes. Many of these short assignments will lead up to longer essays. (Examples: summaries, reading responses, analytical exercises, invention exercises, topic proposals, quizzes, peer critiques, free writing, or group exercises.)
  • Compose 4-5 longer essays that analyze and or synthesize texts; one or more of these essays will require outside research.
  • Submit and receive feedback on prewriting materials early in the process of developing each major essay.
  • Participate in peer revision activities and incorporate peer feedback before submitting final versions of the essays.