Course Information

This is a writing-intensive course that also meets the Literature Core requirement. From epic battles against monsters in legendary kingdoms to stories about characters in worlds similar to our own, literature engages us with the diverse perspectives and experiences that make up our communities and world. ENGL 1001W introduces students to ways of understanding and appreciating literature in English across cultures and historical periods. Throughout this course, we will develop skills to help us understand literature, especially the ability to read language closely (a skill valuable in many disciplines beyond literature). We will explore how writers use language and literary aspects, such as genre, voice, tone, symbol, motif, theme, imagery, narrative, and form. We also will learn how to write about literature, sharing our interpretations of how and why literary works have meaning for ourselves and others, while viewing them through critical cultural lenses, including ways to understand how gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and class can function in literary texts.

Class size limit: 25

Sample Syllabus

Student Qualifications

English 1001W is an intensive U of M humanities course requiring substantial reading, writing, and critical thinking. Students enrolling in ENGL 1001W must be high school seniors. (Juniors may be allowed with the approval of the CIS instructor and the faculty coordinator, but are strongly advised to wait until they are seniors.)

Students must also meet ONE of the two following additional qualifications:

  • Have a cumulative GPA in previously-taken English courses that exceeds a 3.25, OR
  • Be in the top 20% of their high school class.

AND be able to demonstrate to the CIS instructor ONE of the following:

  • The reading and writing skills necessary for success in the course, OR
  • A passion for reading and writing about literature.

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the U of M policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

View the Instructor Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps. 

Please note: Teachers who teach this course every other year are required to attend U of M-sponsored professional development events for their cohort during their non-teaching years as well as during years when they teach the U of M course.


Instructors choose textbooks that are college-level texts in consultation with the coordinator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all of the readings specified or mandated by the University of Minnesota? If not, what are some of the choices?
CIS Literature does not mandate any specific titles, but each instructor's syllabus is reviewed by the coordinator to ensure that the readings are appropriate for a college-level course, and that they fit the mandate of the course catalogue description.

Do teachers have a choice in assignments? Are there required assignments?
Teachers may use their own discretion when designing assignments for this course, so long as they are college-level activities (no busy work, plot summaries, book reports, worksheets, etc.) and they fulfill the goals, objectives, and requirements of the course (Writing Intensive, etc.).

Who creates the exams?
Teachers can create their own exams and are welcome to give exams , though this is not primarily an exam-based course.

Is there a mentoring system for new CIS literature teachers?
The CIS Literature cohort is one of the largest cohorts in the system. The cohort is divided into smaller mentoring groups based on schools with similar populations and geographical locations. Mentoring groups discuss the challenges that are unique to their schools and share strategies for teaching CIS Literature among similar student bodies. New teachers are placed in the appropriate mentoring group, where they will join 8–12 veteran teachers to share pedagogical advice and offer support.

High school class schedules vary: can a teacher in the block system teach literature?
All courses offered through CIS have the same minimum number of contact hours as the on-campus sections. Teachers adapt the University schedule to fit the schedules at their high schools.

What happens at typical teacher workshops?
Typical activities at CIS workshops include meeting University faculty and hearing about their recent research in the discipline; reviewing and/or developing student assessment tools; sharing instructional materials; discussing particular content, pedagogy, or assessment of the University course; and receiving updates on CIS program policies and practices. Mentoring groups meet and discuss issues of concern at Professional Development workshops as well.

What happens at your typical student field days?
Student field days provide an opportunity for CIS students to gather together with a shared speaker (usually a visiting author or a professor) and to explore the Twin Cities campus.

High Schools Offering This Course

  • Academy for Sciences and Agriculture (Vadnais Heights)
  • Anoka High School
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's (Saint Louis Park)
  • Blaine High School
  • Brooklyn Center Secondary Arts and IB World School
  • Buffalo High School
  • Burnsville High School
  • Centennial High School (Circle Pines)
  • Central High School (Saint Paul)
  • Champlin Park High School
  • Chatfield High School
  • Cleveland High School
  • Community of Peace Academy (Saint Paul)
  • Como Park Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Coon Rapids High School
  • Delano High School
  • Eagan High School
  • Eden Valley-Watkins High School
  • Farmington High School
  • Forest Lake Area High School
  • Hastings High School
  • Heritage Academy (Minneapolis)
  • Humboldt Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Irondale High School (New Brighton)
  • Johnson Senior High School (Saint Paul)
  • Jordan High School
  • Litchfield High School
  • Milaca High School
  • Monticello High School
  • Mora High School
  • New Prague High School
  • North Community High School (Minneapolis)
  • North High School (North Saint Paul)
  • Parnassus Preparatory School (Maple Grove)
  • Pine City High School
  • Pipestone Area High School
  • Richfield High School
  • Rosemount High School
  • Roseville Area High School
  • Shakopee High School
  • South High School (Minneapolis)
  • Tri-City United High School (Montgomery)
  • Ubah Medical Academy (Hopkins)
  • Washington Technology Magnet School (Saint Paul)
  • Watertown-Mayer High School
  • White Bear Lake Area High School