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ENGL 2900 English Tutorial

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Catalog Description

Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of GE Block A. Small cohorts receive intensive English studies training in close critical reading, use of disciplinary terminology and modes of inquiry, and anayltical writing. Emphasis on depth, not breadth. Writing intensive (wi).

Course Description

ENGL 2900 (English Tutorial) is the first of the core courses English majors will take, and is in the form of an Oxford-style tutorial.  This pedagogical mode provides students with intensive individualized instruction at the outset of their major course work, thereby optimizing their chances of academic success and shortening time to degree. Collaborative learning in a small cohort will provide a sense of departmental identity and of early professionalization as students directly address their verbal comments and written analyses to an audience of their peers rather than a single professor.

Writing frequent low-stakes essays will increase students’ willingness to take intellectual risks, help them view essay-writing as a mode of developing ideas in conversation with others in the field, and enable them to set the agenda for their own learning, as professors base direct instruction on the students’ expressed interests and demonstrated needs. The inquiry-based tutorial model provides an organic, “real life” learning experience as students raise questions while working through one or more complex texts side-by-side with a professional scholarly reader.

ENGL 2900 is a writing-intensive (wi) course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • apply discipline-specific reading strategies, particularly critical close reading, to identify and analyze a text’s thematic emphases, formal features, and generic conventions
  • identify issues and problems in the text that require definition, cultural contextualization, analysis, and synthesis
  • construct viable literary arguments that are supported by salient textual details
  • narrate developments in their own increasingly nuanced reading and writing processes as they identify the assumptions and values inherent in their interpretations

Course Outline

Formal instruction in a tutorial environment will emphasize the interrelationship of reading and writing throughout the semester, during which the professor and students will read together one or two rich texts (such as a Shakespearean play and a thematically linked work of modern drama, fiction, or poetry; a longer work such as Moby Dick or Paradise Lost; a work such as Jane Eyre with its postcolonial prequel Wide Sargasso Sea, and so on). Students will demonstrate individual engagement with the texts by writing weekly response papers to the assigned reading that they will circulate to their peers prior to the class session. Professor and students will then use class time to reflect collaboratively on their individual reading practices and respond to one another’s written analyses.

The semester-long course affords students repeated guided practice of the following skills:

  1. Reading: decoding and comprehending the literal meanings of complex literary texts; using critical close reading practices to identify and explain the significance of a given text's stylistic, rhetorical, and generic features; attending to the texts’ cultural, political and historical significance; formulating increasingly sophisticated discipline-based questions about the text.
  2. Writing: generating compelling, narrowly focused essay topics that articulate an original analytical claim or thesis;  supporting arguments with evidence from the primary text; subordinating and organizing ideas within paragraphs and essays and effectively using transitions; utilizing multiple revision strategies to develop central claims thoroughly; editing to tighten wordy prose, vary sentence structure, and utilize precise diction; proofreading to correct sentence-level mechanics.
  3. Speaking: reading aloud fluently and expressively; articulating verbal arguments clearly; collaboratively exploring ideas within a discipline-based community of readers.

About the Banner: Inside the British Library Reading Room (image from