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Fundamentals of critical reading and expository writing

The habits of thinking and reading critically, writing thoughtfully, and communicating effectively are fundamental to a liberal arts education and to the mission of Washington College.

English 101 introduces students to these fundamentals of a liberal arts education and mentors students in using these essential abilities effectively toward a successful academic career at Washington College. Washington College students write well and often. As the introduction to the intensive writing experiences students will have across their studies, English 101 provides a foundation for students’ academic writing lives.

Prompted by readings that include a variety of literary genres, authors, and ideas chosen by each instructor, students will expand their capacity for intelligent reading, gain strategies for critical analysis and argumentation, and develop the craft and confidence necessary for composing the kind of writing that will matter in their academic courses and beyond.

Whatever the particular text or focus in the course, all Literature and Composition professors emphasize the following goals and objectives for developing college-level thinking, reading, and writing fundamentals

The goals and objectives for developing  college-level thinking, reading, and writing fundamentals in English 101 are the following:


  • Critical Thinking: the ability to analyze and use texts and other materials in thinking, reading, and writing
  • Rhetorical Knowledge: the ability to craft an effective argument
  • Writing Processes: an understanding of strategies effective for composing, and revising
  • Awareness of Conventions: an awareness of the formal guidelines that define academic communication

 Learning Objectives:

  • Critical Thinking:
    • Close Reading: Students read and analyze texts carefully
  • Rhetorical Knowledge:
    • Thesis: Students establish an argument with a controlling purpose and thesis
    • Evidence: Students develop an argument with depth and specificity in the use of evidence
  • Writing Processes:
    • Composition: Students organize their writing effectively, including clear paragraph structure
    • Revision: Students revise and clarify writing based on self-reflection and feedback from others
  • Awareness of Conventions:
    • Style: Students write with awareness of effective phrasing and word choice
    • Grammar and Usage: Students follow conventions of Standard Written English


As a means toward grasping these essentials, English 101 students will experience frequent and intensive writing assignments throughout the semester as well as conferences with their instructor about the progress of their writing. Students can also expect to participate actively in a seminar-style class (no more than 16 students) and take responsibility for their learning: for example, discussing a draft with their professor during office hours, consulting with the Writing Center, listening to and talking with the host of writers who visit the campus each semester sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Lecture series, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and a variety of academic departments and programs across the campus. In academic study, we value writers and thinkers who are responsive and responsible, who can say what they mean and explain why it matters. Literature and Composition provides the essentials students will need to become such a writer.