Welcome Letter 33488

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English 201B / 33488

Instructor: Dr. Sarah Miller

Welcome to English 201B!

Please read through this Welcome Letter carefully as it provides details about this course and its technological requirements. If you should choose to enroll, you will be sent more instructions before the course starts on January 16, 2024.

Contact information

Email Address: sarah_miller4@cuesta.edu

Office Hours:

I will give you a number of options to reach me for office hours during the semester. More information will be provided closer to the start of the semester.

Instructor Contact Expectations: 

The best and fastest way to contact me is email.  I will generally respond to your emails within 24 hours during weekdays only.  During busy times of the semester, the response time may increase to 48 hours.  On weekends, I try not check email. If I receive an email after 5 on Friday, I probably will not respond until the following Monday. If you do not hear from me in 48 hours, please email me again to put yourself at the top of my inbox.

Course Environment

While we won’t be meeting in person this semester, we’ll be together online where we’ll exchange ideas, discuss reading, write drafts of essays, and receive feedback.

This online course will be using a Web-based Learning Management System Canvas as the method to disseminate information. Canvas provides the framework for the course including lecture material, 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.

Accessing the Course

You will see your course in Canvas on the first day of class. You can access Canvas by clicking on Canvas from the top bar of the Cuesta homepage (www.cuesta.edu), or by typing the Canvas address (https://cuesta.instructure.com/) into your browser address bar.

If you are not familiar with logging into canvas, please refer to the Canvas Quick Reference Guide.Links to an external site. Once logged into Canvas you will be directed on where to get started. Be sure to read all the direction on the course home page.  

If you are having difficulty logging into Canvas after January 16, 2024 and need assistance please email me or 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. 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, if not more on this course as you would on a course that meets face to face. Since there is no lecture component, much of this time will be self-directed and there will be a substantial amount of reading, 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 be prepared to spend 8 - 12 hours per week on coursework for this class


Go to the Cuesta College Canvas Tutorial (self-paced)Links to an external site.,  there are many resources that were designed to help you understand the basis for an online class and the skills necessary for success. (If the tutorials do NOT describe you, then taking this class online is NOT for you and I strongly suggest that you drop the online class and enroll in a traditional classroom section.)

Regular Effective Contact Policy

Regular and Effective Instructor Contact will be met through weekly instructor initiated threaded discussion forums; weekly announcements to students; timely and effective feedback on student assignments; email, phone or messaging to individuals; and virtual office hours.

In order to be successful in this course, you must be committed to working through assignments and turning them in on time. Each week you should log-in to Canvas consistently, and please know, that Canvas allows me to see your log-ins. If I notice you have not logged in to Canvas in more than two weeks, I will drop you from the course unless you communicate with me about missing “class.”

Optional Online Meet-Ups: 

Though we won’t be meeting in person, I will offer opportunities for online meetings. These meetings will be entirely voluntary and will not be counted towards the course grade. I offer these meetings as a way to expand our discussions. We will be reading a full-length book together, and students often benefit from discussing the material with each other and me. The meetings will be scheduled at times when the most students are available and recorded for any student who may not be available.

Course Description

This course 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.

Prerequisite: English 201A with a grade of C or better.

Transfer: CSU; UC

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

Text Book and Materials

This course is designated as a low-cost course. Most readings will be embedded in our Canvas shell. You will need access to the full-length texts The Tempest and Mama Day, but both are available for free from the public library.

  • The Tempest (Cambridge School Shakespeare Edition) by William Shakespeare, 3rd Edition
  • Mama Day by Gloria Naylor
  • You will need a weekly, reliable internet connection where you can access Canvas. All supplemental readings and materials, available online for free, will be available in Canvas.
  • This is a writing intensive course, and therefore, it cannot be completed successfully from a smart phone. Please make sure you have access to a device with a keyboard.
  • Final drafts must be submitted in Microsoft Word: Microsoft Office for Free (including Word and PowerPointLinks to an external site.
  • Supplemental Materials:

Technical Support

Cuesta students are encouraged to direct all technical support inquiries to  support@my.cuesta.edu. If you are having issues with Canvas, you should contact the Canvas Support Hotline at (877) 921-7680, or click on the help button on the Canvas Navigation to report a problem.

If you are having difficulty viewing the course or logging in, it may be because you are not using the correct url: https://cuesta.instructure.com/ or you are using your phone or using an unsupported browser.


Your learning environment is best accessed from a desktop or laptop computer, using Firefox or Chrome.  This may solve your problem!  Please review the browser requirements and minimum computer specificationsLinks to an external site..



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 contact the instructor as soon as possible so that you can receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner. You should also contact DSPS (Disabled Student Programs & Services)Links to an external site. at 805-546-3148.

College & Course Policies

Academic Honesty Policy: In addition to my course policy, which will be detailed on the course syllabus once the course begins, please note all students attending San Luis Obispo County Community College District at any district site and when representing Cuesta College in any off-campus activity, assume an obligation to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner compatible with the Student Code of conduct. Please review the Cuesta College Student Code of conductLinks to an external site..

Add / Drop Policy: Students who do not log in to Canvas for more than 2 weeks will be dropped from the course unless the instructor is contacted by the student before or during this period. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate with the instructor regarding consistent course engagement. It is also the student’s responsibility to drop the course before the drop deadline. In addition to my policy, please review the Cuesta policy for drops


Waitlist Policy: Please review Cuesta’s waitlist procedure and instructionsLinks to an external site..



Sample Syllabus

Please note: This syllabus is provided as a sample that you might have an idea of the course design. The actual syllabus for this specific section will be distributed to you at the start of the semester.

Welcome to English 201B

Catalog Description

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.

Schedule Description

Provides an introduction to the study of literature with an emphasis in literary composition and critical thinking.

Prerequisite: English 201A with a grade of C or better.

Transfer: CSU; UC

Student Learning Outcomes

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

Course Overview

This course is designed to meet three complementary goals: (1) learn to read and analyze literature; (2) learn to write arguments regarding literature; (3) learn to research and integrate sources into written arguments regarding literature. In other words, we will focus on honing skills related to reading and writing. Over the course of the semester, we will read great literature in many forms: short fiction, poetry, drama, and a novel. In class, we will discuss the reading, and each student is expected to participate in the course material. In general, we will discuss the choices authors make when writing, how we as readers can interpret their work, and how other readers argue for meanings in these texts. We will also spend time developing writing skills, especially as they relate to analysis and argument. In writing, we will work on using literary texts as evidence as well as incorporating other critics’ work as sources to support or contest a position.

Course Goals

The main goal of this course is for students to recognize, analyze, and write about major elements of literature. Along with this goal, students will learn to:

  • closely read texts (poetry, fiction, and drama)
  • interpret texts based on careful examination
  • analyze texts’ genres and changing attitudes generic conventions
  • connect historical contexts to literature
  • compare texts in order to better understand the ways authors approach their craft
  • identify biases (in texts and in the their analysis)
  • synthesize multiple viewpoints into the understanding of a text and period
  • respond to readings in a critical and analytical fashion
  • evaluate their own aesthetic tastes
  • write close readings that argue for the presence of techniques with the use of textual evidence
  • create arguments based on critical/theoretical perspectives
  • engage in thoughtful discussion with classmates and instructor

Instructor Contact Expectations 

The best and fastest way to contact me is email—I very rarely check my office voicemail.  I will generally respond to your emails within 24 hours during weekdays. During busy times of the semester, the response time may increase to 48 hours.  On weekends, I will do my best to get back to you ASAP but you can expect a response on Monday. If you don’t hear from me in 48 hours, please send me another email—sometimes I miss them and sometimes technology interferes.

Writing Assignments

Reading Responses: total 1,800 words

Over the course of the semester, you will write 6 reading responses. These responses are due every three weeks. You can choose any of the assigned reading from those weeks to discuss. Each reading response should be at least 300 words. I’ll drop your lowest score.

These reading responses are meant to give you practice in reading and explicating complex texts. This is NOT summary of the reading. In the response, you should demonstrate your thoughts on the reading. Half the response (approx. 150 words) should be what you notice in terms of form or content (i.e., themes, motifs, imagery, plot structure, rhyme, figurative language, historical/cultural connections, etc.). The other half should be your thoughts on the reading (What did it make you think? What about it resonates with you? Is there anything you found challenging? Why should someone read this or avoid reading this?) Please include your word count.

Essay #1: 1,000-1,500 word essay

Close reading of a poem or a scene analysis from a piece of fiction: This assignment requires no secondary research and should demonstrate your ability to closely read a poem or passage from a work of fiction. How does the piece create meaning? What elements of the piece are used to construct an argument? You will select a text from your Norton Anth.

Essay #2: 2,000-2,500 word essay

Compare and/or contrast essay with research: In this essay you will move beyond the close reading of one text and instead develop an argument that compares or contrasts at least two texts. One text must be from the course materials (i.e., Norton Introduction or The Tempest or Mama Day). You will construct your essay based on your own ideas using the texts as evidence as well as applying critical lenses, using secondary sources, and incorporating research.

Quizzes and Exams

Reading Quizzes

You will take 7 reading quizzes (dates listed on the course schedule), and I will drop the lowest one. You will have two attempts to take each quiz—this is meant to alleviate some anxiety because you can go back through and try again. The questions will be drawn from texts discussed and assigned from one quiz to the next—the quizzes are open book and open note. The aim of these quizzes is to ensure you’re keeping up with the assigned reading and can identify key concepts and plot points.

Midterm Exam

Your midterm exam will be made up of short answer question that require paragraph-length answers. Total you will write between 500-1,000 words.

Final Exam

During final exam week, you will take a final exam. This exam will ask you to write a 700-word essay from your choice of several topics.


During the semester you will sign up to “present” on our assigned readings. Once you’ve signed up, I’ll send you a link to a Google Slides presentation where you are responsible for 2 or 3 slides. One slide must include 3 discussion questions for your classmates. Others who sign up for the same week will also be creating slides—please make sure your slides are unique and all dealing with different aspects of the texts. Once you’ve created slides, you’ll send me a reflection of at least 250 words about the process—how did you decide what to include? What did you think about the reading? Why did you decide on those questions? Slides need to be completed on Wednesdays by midnight. Please see the Presentation assignment page for more info.


The course grade is composed of the following:

10%    Discussions/Activities

10%    Reading Responses

15%    Essay #1

25%    Essay #2

5%      Reading Quizzes

10%    Midterm Exam

15%    Final Exam

10%    Presentation

Grading is based on specific assignment criteria, and will follow English Department standards for content, organization, expression, and mechanics. To compute final course grades, the following values are assigned to the standard letter grades of A through F:

A            =  93-99%

A-           =  90-92%

B+          =  87-89%

B            =  83-86%

B-           =  80-82%

C+         =  77-79%

C            =  73-76%

D            =  60-72%

F            =  1-59%                

No paper = 0.0



In order to be successful in this course, you must be committed to working through assignments and turning them in on time. Please communicate with me if anything arises that makes it difficult to “attend class”—I would like to be as helpful as I can, but if I don’t know about any problems or issues, I can’t help you find a way around them. Each week you should log-in to Canvas a minimum of 3 times. Please reach out if you feel like you’re falling behind—I’d like to work with you to come up strategies for you to be successful in this course.

Late Work Policy

I accept late work. I know that things happen sometimes. I appreciate it when you send me an email if you think you’ll be turning in something late—this lets me plan and offer you assistance. Work submitted more than a week late may receive a slight penalty, but it is definitely worth it to submit.

The Public Nature of Writing and Discussions

Please consider every piece of writing you do for this class to be "public." Remember that you will often be expected to share your writing with others, so avoid writing about things that you may not be prepared to subject to public scrutiny, or things you feel so strongly about that you are unwilling to listen to other perspectives. This does not mean that you are not entitled to an opinion but that you adopt positions responsibly; please be considerate of others’ contributions and viewpoints. This course may contain content (assigned readings, in-class discussions, etc.) that is uncomfortable for some students. If you have concerns about any course content, please bring these concerns to the attention of your instructor.

Civility & Netiquette

Please remember that behind our screens are real people who have unique experiences and feelings. Interactions with classmates, your instructor, and any other members of the Cuesta community must be considerate and respectful. Any incident of bullying or disrespectful behavior will be reported.

Student Service Hours

Student Service Hours, often also called office hours, can be one of the most beneficial parts of your college experience. During these hours, instructors are available to speak to you about your work for a course one-on-one. In a writing intensive course such as this, these meetings can help you make individualized progress. If you would like to speak to me, please send me an email and we can schedule a time to talk. We can Zoom (with or without video) or chat over Google Hangouts.

All Writing for This Class Must be Written for This Class

All writing for this class must be written for this class. Resubmitting a paper from another class or elsewhere constitutes academic dishonesty. If you wish to further pursue a project begun in another class or develop ideas you have written about in another class, please discuss your plans with me first.

Academic Dishonesty

Students are expected to write and submit original work in all classes, and to incorporate others’ words, images, or ideas into their writing using standard citation practices. Academic dishonesty in any form will not be tolerated, and students are expected to be familiar with all relevant policies. Plagiarism will result in failing the class. Please see Cuesta’s website (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for more information.

Statement of Diversity & Equity

Diversity is an important component to critical thinking and writing. This semester we will read texts by writers who represent diverse backgrounds and belief systems. We will learn to think through complex ideas and apply them to multiple situations. We will address different audiences through a variety of writing assignments.

I am committed to contributing to inclusion and equity in the courses I teach, and I expect students to engage in this course and their academic experience with respect towards diversity. Sharing our differences ultimately expands our abilities to create meaningful writing and successfully contribute to our communities. For more information on resources related to diversity and inclusion, please visit https://www.cuesta.edu/about/info/equity/index.htm If there is ever a topic or situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, please contact me so that we can discuss ways to improve your experience.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Cuesta offers services for students who may need help accessing elements of their education. Some students already know they qualify for services but some may not. The goal of Disabled Student Programs and Services is to provide “academic accommodation and other services to assist students with disabilities in achieving their academic goals.”  If you have a disability for which you are requesting an accommodation or you’d like to speak to someone about qualifying for an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact Disabled Student Programs & Services (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. as soon as possible. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all services are being offered via phone or Zoom. You do not have to use any or all of the accommodations for which you qualify, but it is beneficial to most students to meet with DSPS as soon as possible to set up services in case they may be needed.

Student Success Center

The Writing Center is one of the most useful resources for this course. Writing tutors can help students understand assignments, think of and organize ideas, work on drafts and revision, and understand principles and styles of documentation. These services are a great asset; please take advantage of them. Visit the Writing Center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. website for more information: https://www.cuesta.edu/student/resources/ssc/writingHelp.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

How to Access Virtual Tutoring (Including Writing Center Tutoring)

  1. Have your student ID number ready to be checked in/out of tutoring.
  2. Login to Canvas and click on the Student Success Center Course or visit the Student Success Center Links to an external site.website.
  3. Inside the Student Success Center course click on "READY TO GO?"
  4. A host will greet you, ask for your student Id number and subject you need help in and place you in a virtual room with a tutor.
  5. Once your session is complete you will return to the lobby to be checked out with your Student Id number.

By following the Student Success Center link above you can find out how to gain access to necessities like Tutor Schedules (for our peer tutors who are available to Zoom with you), Chromebook laptops available for free checkout, available Emergency Student Funding, and to access NetTutor 24/7, which is available when our Cuesta tutors may not be.

Title IX

Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender is a Civil Rights offense subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc.

Please note that under Title IX, almost all Cuesta faculty and staff are mandatory reporters.

  • Faculty and staff are required to report the names of students who identify to them as having experienced sexual violence and/or harassment
  • Once reported, the Title IX Coordinator will contact the identified student to share resources that the student may choose (or choose not) to explore or utilize.
  • Reporting does not automatically trigger any disciplinary or criminal investigations.


  • SensitivityPlease note that some course content may be sensitive or suitable for adult audiences.As we conduct scholarly investigation and engage in critical thinking about class topics, we will often entertain many different opinions about a topic or text or perspective; please be considerate of others’ contributions and viewpoints. Please also keep in mind that we belong to a college community with high standards for our behaviors and interactions. An environment of respect will allow all of us the opportunity to participate and learn. If you ever feel uncomfortable, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can find a solution to that discomfort.
  • Attitude: As with most things, you will get out of this class what you put into it; a positive outlook and commitment to excellence will serve you well. How you project yourself and the attitude with which you approach this class will be easily recognized by your classmates and by myself. I expect you to be respectful of yourself and others, committed to improvement, and dedicated to putting forth your best effort.
  • Connection: While we won’t be meeting each other in person this semester, I do hope that we can get to know each other through our digital interactions. Please try to engage with the material and your classmates’ ideas as much as you can. It can be easy to forget that the names on your screen correspond to real people—respect each other as if you were sitting next to each other in class.

Tips for Success

I know you can be successful in this course! As with anything, there are ways to make this course more manageable and perhaps more enjoyable. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Scheduling: This is an asynchronous class with consistent deadlines--this means that you can complete the materials on your own and submit any time before the deadlines. I'd recommend setting aside the same time(s) each week for this course so that you know you will have time to get your work done. Reading and writing can be time consuming so try to give yourself enough time each week to think through the ideas presented as well as to write and revise.
  • ReadingThe assigned reading is important. It will hopefully give you inspiration for your own writing. I find that discussing my reading helps me understand it better. You'll have opportunities to write posts for discussion, but I'm always available to talk about the reading, too.
  • Ask for helpCollege can be challenging, but the best thing about it is that there are resources to help you meet those challenges. I am a resource for you, but there are many others who can help. Reach out--we're here if you need us!
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