ENGL 201B Welcome Letter

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Welcome to ENGL 201B: Composition: 

Introduction to Literature / Critical Thinking

Cuesta College

Fall 2024: CRNs 71378 and 71379


Hello, prospective students! My name is Dr. Sally Demarest, and I look forward to working with you.  The purpose of this class is to engage with literature in several forms and to further strengthen your critical thinking and composition skills. I look forward to our class discussions, to your written work, and to what each and every one of you can bring to our class. Sometimes we will discuss sensitive topics and themes from our readings, and these discussions will require respectful dialogue. We will have great opportunities to practice effective thinking and argument as we discuss great works of literature, including fiction, poetry, songs, drama, and film.



Dr. Sally Demarest





This is a Fully Online Course

We have no face-to-face meetings and no mandatory Zoom meetings. Everything will be online and asynchronous. However, I will hold weekly office hours through Zoom, and I will be available by appointment. I will engage with you regularly online and will provide a lot of helpful feedback on your work.


Course Materials

  • Twelfth Night, Cambridge Edition, Andrews ISBN 978-1107615359 (this is a recommended edition available through the Cuesta Bookstore, but you can also find the complete play online)
  • Access to internet/Canvas
  • Hamilton, the musical (relevant links will be provided)
  • Other readings/handouts provided through Canvas
  • Possible costs for streaming TV episodes and movies, (not totaling more than $10)


Content Note

One of our texts for this class is Get Out, a movie that is rated R for violence and language. While the violence is limited, it is somewhat graphic. There is no explicit sexual content. If you are uncomfortable watching this film, you might want to consider a different section of ENGL 201B. If you have questions, feel free to contact me.


Course Start and End Dates

August 12, 2024 through December 13, 2024.


How to Begin

Please login to Canvas on the first day of the semester (see dates above) and begin working in the class.  If you do not log in within the first three days of the class, you may be dropped so that I can accommodate other students who are trying to add the class.

If you need to contact me before the class starts, please email me any time (see email address above).


Catalog Description of ENGL 201B

Provides an introduction to the study of literature with an emphasis in both literary composition and critical thinking. This course develops critical thinking and writing skills through the close study of major genres of literature: poetry, fiction, and drama. Students receive instruction in analytical and argumentative writing by studying literature and criticism and by identifying sound and fallacious methods of reasoning in assessments of literature.


Learning Management System that houses the class



What you should know

  • This course is 18 weeks.
  • We have no face-to-face meetings.
  • We have no required Zoom meetings, but we will have some optional ones.
  • You must participate in this course regularly throughout the week.
  • You will write multiple discussion posts and replies each week.
  • You will have homework assignments and readings due every week.
  • You will write a series of essays that will include drafts and peer reviews.
  • I am available to connect with you through Zoom.



If you are on the waitlist for the course, be sure to check your email regularly (it's best to check twice a day). If a spot becomes available, you will receive an automated message from Cuesta, and you will have just 24 hours to add the class, or you will lose the spot and be dropped from the waitlist. If you are still on the waitlist when the class starts, please email me on the first day of class to check on your status and the likelihood that you’ll be able to add.

Important note: I do not have the email addresses of students on the waitlist, so you will need to email me to inquire about a space.


Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate advanced critical thinking and reasoning skills in a literary context.
  2. Write interpretive literary arguments using advanced rhetorical and composition skills.
  3. Demonstrate information fluency in a literary context.


Required Regular and Effective Contact
This course requires regular and effective contact among all students and the instructor for the full 18 weeks of the course. We will achieve this in a variety of ways, such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • interaction between students (and the instructor) in discussion forums
  • weekly homework readings and submissions
  • virtual office hours
  • optional Zoom meetings
  • interactive online essay work-shopping through Canvas forums
  • viewing of short video lectures and content
  • instructor feedback on written work
  • announcements
  • email messages


This course is designed using an accessible Learning Management System, and course materials have been created with ADA compliance in mind. If you have a disability and might need accommodations in this class, such as extended time on exams or other resources, please work with Disabled Students Programs and Services and the instructor as soon as possible so that you can receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner.

DSPS (Disabled Student Programs & Services)Links to an external site. or 805-546-3148.  


Tentative Grading and Assessment (the official syllabus will provide the final grading system)
Grading Category Weighted Percentage of Total Grade
Study Questions, Quizzes and Assignments 20% (lowest grade dropped)
Discussion Forums 15% (lowest grade dropped)
Hamilton Essay      15%
Poetry Analysis Exam 10%
Twelfth Night Project 10%
Fairy Tale Essay 20%
Final Exam on Gothic Texts 10%


General (and approximate) Outline for Our Content

Week 1: Introduction to the Course / Interpreting Literature / "Jolene"

Weeks 2-3: Poetic Techniques / Hamilton

Weeks 4-5: Poetry

Weeks 6-8: Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Weeks 9-13: Fairy Tales

Weeks 14-17: Gothic Literature (including Jordan Peele's Get Out, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birth Mark," and other texts)

About Canvas, the Course Learning Management System (LMS)

This online course will be using a Web-based Learning Management System called Canvas as the method to disseminate information. Canvas provides the framework for the course including PowerPoint presentations, student data files, the tools to receive and send course materials, and a grade book. Using the communication tools, you can communicate using e-mail, and you can share materials and ideas with other course participants via the discussion forums and groups. Please feel free to ask questions, look up YouTube videos on how Canvas works, and contact our support desk when needing help: support@my.cuesta.edu. If you send an email to the support desk, please describe the problem you are experiencing and include your name, class, section number (CRN), and instructor's name.


Starting the Class / Getting into Canvas

Prior to the first day of class, I will send an email to your my.cuesta.edu address providing you with a reminder that class will be starting and log in procedures for Canvas, the learning management system (LMS) used to deliver course content. You can access Canvas by logging into MyCuesta, then clicking on Canvas tab. 


If you are not familiar with logging into Canvas, please refer to the Canvas Quick Reference GuideLinks to an external site.. Once logged into Canvas, click on the ENGL 201A course card on your dashboard, and then you will be given directions for how to get started. Be sure to read all the directions on the course home page. If you are having difficulty logging into Canvas and need assistance please email me, or email technical support at this email address: support@my.cuesta.edu.



Online Learning

If you have never taken an online class or this is your first experience with Canvas, please be patient with yourself and with the technology. Online classes are not inherently easier, although they may be much more convenient for many students. You should expect to spend at least as much time as you would on a 4-unit course that meets face to face (8-12 hours per week), and sometimes it will feel like it takes more time than a regular course because you have to do so much of the work on your own. Since there is no lecture component, much of this time will be self directed, and there will be a substantial amount of reading, video viewing, studying, and writing required. This course is completely online using Canvas; all coursework (discussions, assignments, quizzes) is submitted online. There are no face-to- face meetings.


Please Familiarize Yourself with the Important Resources Below

Canvas Browser requirements/minimum computer specifications Links to an external site.

Academic Policies (add, drop, waitlist, academic honesty, etc.) Links to an external site.

Distance Education Technical Support Links to an external site.

Disability Support Programs and Services Links to an external site.

If you have a disability and might need accommodations (support services) in this class, please contact Disabled Student Program & Services as soon as possible to ensure that you receive the accommodations in a timely manner.



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