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Dr Karis Riley - Private Tutor in Central London
I am a Medieval and Renaissance literary historian. I have a BA in Philosophy (cum laude), a PhD in English Literature, a master's in Classics from the University of Oxford, for which I was awarded the top distinction in my year, and recently held an AHRC-funded postdoc on the History Faculty at the University of Cambridge to explore how cultures remembered and forgot the European religious reformations in the early modern period. An American and British citizen, I have academic and cultural experience on both sides of the Atlantic. As a teenager I also lived a few years in Sofia, Bulgaria, attending an exceptional school in Eastern Europe that offered the IB Diploma. My interdisciplinary academic background and training means I am competent to teach at the crossroads of a number of disciplines. I am enthusiastic about motivating all kinds of people of all ages to pursue knowledge, and remain convinced that enjoying a curriculum is the best way to mature and flourish intellectually.
Subjects I Teach
My Education & Qualifications
University of Oxford, 2016 – 2017
Greek and/or Latin Languages & Literature (MSt): top distinction in year
University of York, 2013 – 2016
English Literature & Language (PhD):
Wheaton College, IL, 2008 – 2012
Philosophy (BA): cum laude
My Tutoring & Teaching Experience
I have taught undergraduate students in Philosophy, Renaissance Literature, and writing and critical-thinking skills. I also have extensive experience communicating with non-specialists, younger students, and children. My husband and I started a church in the heart of London that provides a community and pastoral care for families, the homeless, young professionals, London university students, and internationals in 2014.
As a philosophy undergrad, I gave a lecture on the problem of evil to first-year students and worked in a paid capacity as a Teacher’s Assistant in the philosophy department. My responsibilities included helping students with basic writing and critical-thinking skills and marking weekly essays. As a PhD graduate, I also taught third-year finalists - the year when many students flip the switch and lose focus. I developed an engaging eight-week curriculum for a university seminar, facilitated classroom discussion, marked theses, and held weekly, private office hours to help students learn how to frame their arguments, anticipate critical objections, and see things from different angles. I am delighted that one of the students I coached so enjoyed the environment that she sensed further education was right for her. She applied to Durham’s MA in Medieval and Renaissance Literature with her final-year thesis she wrote in my class, and was accepted!
My Approach to Tutoring
In teaching, I draw especially from my first two years of secondary school (2004-2005) when I had to educate myself through an online university programme because Bulgaria had no adequate higher education; this was little more than a decade after the end of communism. My family decided a private tutor could help the situation. These self-taught years were demanding but also extremely intellectually freeing. It prepared me in time-management skills that have shaped the rest of my path and honed my abilities for the Oxbridge tutorial setting.
With first-hand experience both at the undergraduate and graduate levels of the Oxbridge tutorial system, I realise how an inspiring, patient, and generous tutor makes all the difference between success and discouragement. I know what it is like to have an astute expert give feedback about weak spots, help outline a curriculum, prioritise books on a reading list, and balance study with leisure and other commitments. As a past faculty member at the University of Cambridge, I am aware of what admissions boards are looking for in applications and can help students present their strengths and achievements in the best possible light.
Getting to the top takes hard work and discipline, but the process does not need to be stressful or boring. My teaching philosophy is twofold: firstly, we learn in order to see reality as it is; and secondly, we learn most through delight and wonder. I find many students lose their sense of excitement because they become destination-focused and grade-orientated. I am convinced that the best thinking and ideas develop through joy, and not by aiming at a certain mark or geographical location, which often ends in paralysis and anxiety. The rise of mental health awareness in schools throughout the United Kingdom makes alternative methods for motivation vital and necessary to our younger generation’s long-term flourishing. What is the good of getting into the school of one’s dreams if the pressure becomes too much? How can we inspire resilience in our students in the lead up to university? This is one dimension of what I can offer.
Fun Facts About Me
While finishing high school in the States, I once worked as corporate journalist for a news agency that represented America’s prestigious railroads such as Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific, and BNSF. It required travel across the US to conduct interviews and build relationships with clients and companies. In my spare time, I enjoy singing, learning new languages, writing poetry, exploring historic London, and reading books on an ever-expanding list.
Last but not least I am writing two books. The first book will offer the first comprehensive analysis of emotion in John Milton, the Renaissance poet, theologian, and political theorist. Early modern passions were seen as rival contenders to reason in the soul, but also as necessary and meaningful elements of human existence. The history of the passions is long and varied. The volume will tell the story of Milton's reappraisal of the soul's emotions in a period where various traditions are contested and under major revision with the rise of the new sciences. The second book examines the relationship between classical poetry and theories of matter. Aiming to chart the emergence and distinctions between the literary genres of fairy tale, myth, and science fiction, it investigates how materialist views of the universe in antiquity inspired such beautiful stories, and whether, in the end, this kind of worldview can be reconciled with the idea of nature's 'enchantment'.
My Client Testimonials
"Karis is a fantastic tutor of English. She helped my daughter prepare 11+ English reading comprehension. She is professional and motivating. She is able to tailor lessons to needs. My daughter loved her style of teaching, well prepared and inspirational. English is my daughter's weakness but she has got the offer to a top private school for girls."
PhD Renaissance Literature
"Karis is an extremely knowledgeable and inspiring tutor. I have known and worked with her for five years and she's always impressed me with her depth of knowledge and endless curiosity. She can offer warm and encouraging support as well as a constructive perspective for her students' growth. I recommend Karis to students looking for fascinating discussion of literature, encouraging support while studying Greek and Latin, or a friendly guide to help them build effective study skills."
Undergraduate English Literature
"I have known Karis for over six years, first as the supervisor for her doctorate and then as her employer on a research project. During this time I observed Karis teaching when I was her teaching mentor at the University of York. She communicates brilliantly and with great precision. She is a great listener, empathising with the student and helping them find the right words to express what they want to say. She is also passionate about teaching and full of enthusiasm. She has that combination of directness, engagement, and lucidity that anybody would admire in a natural teacher."
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Otherwise, you can read about our tutor selection criteria, or read about Wentworth Education's philosophy and approach in a letter to parents from Dr Katherine Wiles, our Founder. You can also see more tutor profiles on our tutors listing page, where you can filter by subject.
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