The general subject of this seminar is
“Composing the Self.” Works studied will include selections of
fiction, drama, and philosophy. Additional material may be
included on a handout basis. There will also be one class
session each week (the extra hour) devoted to a discussion of
current events and world culture, based on our reading of The
New York Times. Reading and writing assignments will be
given on a class-by-class basis. I have found that a seminar
format requires flexibility rather than strict adherence to a
set plan. So be prepared to be flexible.
1. General participation and attendance
(10%). Students are expected to attend every class and actively
contribute to discussion. There are no unexcused absences;
attendance will be taken at all classes, and the instructor
should be notified by e-mail or telephone or in writing if an
absence is unavoidable.
Class contribution takes several forms.
Students may ask questions at any point during a class; students
and teacher may engage in question-and-answer dialogue; the
class as a whole may engage in open discussion, sharing ideas
and attempting as a group to deepen our understanding of the
material. Students should work at participating effectively in
all these formats. Class participation will be evaluated on the
basis of evidence of preparation and thoughtfulness about the
material. The most important criterion, in my view, is whether
one’s contribution to class discussion contributes to the
learning of others, including myself. I especially encourage
students to share their opinions and to back them up. I like
vigorous and civilized discussion.
Several outside events will be scheduled.
Attendance will be required, and there will be advance notice as
to time and place. More about these events in class.
2. Oral presentations (10%) will be made to
the class of selected material. These presentations will involve
a debate and discussion format (Aristotle) and character
point-of-view exercises (Salinger). These presentations will be
graded on the basis of understanding of the material, insight,
preparation, and effective organization.
3. Written work. Papers (70%). Several
critical papers will be assigned on themes and topics to be
discussed; one of these papers (the final one, due on the class
final exam day) will be a major piece of work between 8-10 pages
in length and will involve scholarly research using at least two
off-line sources. These papers are to be well organized and
The format of the first sample student
paper in The Little, Brown Handbook in the chapter
entitled “Two Research Papers in the MLA Style,” is to be
followed; bibliographic and “Works Cited” formats are to be
found in the chapter entitled “Using MLA Documentation and
Format.” Any paper that has not been spell-checked or does not
follow format guidelines will receive an automatic “F.” All
corrections and editorial changes indicated by the instructor
must be made before the next paper is submitted, otherwise the
grade on the following paper will be "F." I call this the “Magic
Check” process. No exceptions.
All papers submitted for a grade must be
kept in a plain tab folder in which each assignment will be
placed and handed in with new work. For example, when the second
paper is submitted, it must be accompanied in a plain tab folder
by the first paper, along with all previous graded work. All
papers are due at the start of class from the author on the
specified due date; papers not handed in on time will be
penalized one letter grade per day.
4. Other work (10%) will include logs (as
assigned) of readings in The New York Times. This work
will be collected once a week at the start of the fourth hour,
read, graded, and returned. This work will consist of
well-written one-paragraph summaries of articles chosen from
various sections (options will vary through the semester) of the
New York Times.
In addition, from time to time there may be
factual quizzes (announced in advance) on reading assignments
and material covered in class. It is important that students
take careful notes during class discussion.
5. General grading philosophy. Grades on
the papers (and in the course) will not necessarily be averaged;
much weight will be given to improvement. Each student's written
work will be assessed on an individual basis, with emphasis on
consistency and the achievement of higher standards as the
course proceeds. Periodic evaluations will be made of each
student’s contribution to the seminar; see the attached form
with this syllabus.
In addition to the assigned work, each
student may do extra assignments based on the course reading,
campus events (films, plays, concerts, etc.), as well as outside
reading. This work will be read and graded and included in the
above-mentioned folder. Thus, much work in this seminar may well
be individually generated. I call this process “Making the Case
for the ‘A.’”
Note: it is course policy that all assigned
work (papers, quizzes, exams, etc.) must be completed in order
for a student to pass the course.
Further note: An optional final exam is
available for those who select it. In my opinion, only those
students who feel they are between grades should select this
option. The grade on this exam will be used to determine which
of two grades (higher or lower) the student will receive.
Another note: the averaging method may be
elected by a student if that student so chooses; this must be
done at the start of the course. Notify me within a week of the
start of the semester. After one week, there can be no changes
in the grading system.
6. The Mercer Honor Code is in effect at
all times in this course. The consequences of violating this
code are serious, and all students should be aware of this.
7. The in-progress evaluation form is
attached to this syllabus.
Students with a documented disability
should inform the instructor at the close of the first class
meeting or as soon as possible. If you are not registered with
Disability Services, the instructor will refer you to the
Student Support Services office for consultation regarding
documentation of your disability and eligibility for
accommodations under the ADA/504. In order to receive
accommodations, eligible students must provide each instructor
with a Faculty Accommodation Form from Disability Services.
Students must return the completed and signed form to the
Disability Services office on the 3rd
floor of the Connell Student Center. Students with a documented
disability who do not wish to use accommodations are strongly
encouraged to register with Disability Services and complete a
Faculty Accommodation Form each semester. For further
information please contact Disability Services at 301-2778 or
visit the web site at
IN-PROGRESS SEMINAR EVALUATION
This form is to give you feedback on your
classroom performance in FYS 101. The goal of this evaluation is
to help you do well in FYS 101. Two categories will be
evaluated: (1) evidence of preparation for class (not just
whether you did the reading assignment, but whether you show
knowledge of it and thoughtfulness about it) and (2) your
contribution during discussion to the learning of others (this
includes, but is not limited to, your willingness to state
positions and defend them, to follow up your statements and
opinions with clarifications and explanations, and to raise the
intellectual level of classroom exchange). Performance on The
New York Times assignments will also be entered.
Unexcused absences will also be recorded.
(Note that an unexcused absence will result in an “F” for the
evaluation period; this includes absences from the fourth hour,
_______ SEMINAR PARTICIPATION (INCLUDES
EVIDENCE OF PREPARATION, CONTRIBUTION TO THE LEARNING OF OTHERS,
_______ NY TIMES ASSIGNMENTS