Professor Stephen Bluestone
Office: 110B Ware Hall | Telephone: 478-301-4010 | email:
Office Hours: 9:30-10:40 a.m. (T/Th) and by appointment
FYS 101 Fall 2009
English 237 Fall 2009
English 333 Fall 2009
FYS 102 Spring 2009
English 235 Spring 2009
English 382 Spring 2009
FYS 101 Fall 2008
English 237 Fall 2008
English 332 Fall 2008
FYS 102  Spring 2008
English 235 Spring 2008
English 340 Spring 2008
This page is designed to be printed 
"Engaging the World"
  • Clarke, Arthur. 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • Fowler, The Little, Brown Handbook

  • Salinger, J. D. Franny and Zooey

  • Beaty, Jerome (ed). The Norton Introduction to the Short Novel

  • Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You
                 Been?” (class handout)

Subscriptions to The New York Times will be available through the bookstore. Ordering forms are available in class and in the bookstore.



The general subject of this seminar is “Engaging the World.” The works studied will include fiction and film. Supplemental material may, from time to time be used. There will 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.

As far as an assignment schedule is concerned, I have discovered that the best approach in a seminar course is to be flexible. Often a discussion will lead to new ideas and insights and require more class time than originally planned for the material. Some classes like a mixture of spontaneous as well as structured time. Others prefer one or the other. My goal is to have enjoyable and serious discussions that are open to possibilities neither I nor the students can anticipate. That is why I will assign the readings as we go along. The amount of reading done on this basis will be the same as the amount the class would do on a fixed schedule.

Participation and attendance (20%). Students are expected to attend every class and actively contribute to discussion. There are no unexcused absences; attendance will be taken at all classes. I should be notified in person or by e-mail or telephone or in writing if an absence is unavoidable.

Attendance at a limited number of out-of-class activities (film screenings, lectures, etc.) will be required .

Class contribution takes several forms. Students may ask questions at any point during a discussion; students and teacher may engage in question-and-answer sessions; the class as a whole may engage in open discussion, sharing ideas and attempting as a group to deepen our understanding of the material. In addition, certain classes will involve graded oral presentations, debates, etc, as assigned. Students should work at participating effectively in all these formats. The two most important factors in class participation are (1) evidence of preparation and (2) contribution through discussion to the learning of others. Periodic evaluations will be made of each student’s in-class contributions to the seminar. Class contribution is an important factor in determining the final grade.

Written work (80%). (1) New York Times logs will be kept on a daily basis, as assigned; these will be handed in weekly, during the fourth hour. (2) Formal papers will be assigned on themes and topics to be discussed; the length of the major seminar paper will be approximately 8-10 pages and will involve at least two off-line secondary sources; shorter papers will also be assigned. Library and on-line research will be a component of these assignments, as directed. The papers are to be well organized and thoroughly proofread. The due date of the final paper is Thursday May 1, 2008, at 5 p.m.

In all papers, unless otherwise stipulated, 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 the assigned formats 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." As above, no exceptions

When the second paper is submitted, it must be accompanied in a plain tab folder by previous papers. 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 no less than one letter grade per day. Please note: all previous written work submitted for a grade, including extra-credit work, must accompany the final paper in the folder at the end of the course.

The grading system. Grades on the papers (and in the course) will not necessarily be averaged; much weight will be given to improvement. Each student's written and class work will be assessed on an individual basis, with emphasis on consistency and the ability to achieve higher standards as the course proceeds. I call this the “outcome basis.” It gives each student a chance to have his or her learning over the course of the term count for more at the end. In my opinion, it is a more accurate measure of learning in a humanities class than the averaging basis. I believe, in addition, that this approach allows each individual student to make the strongest possible case for an “A” by offering opportunities to do extra-credit work, which could consist of response papers to outside lectures and poetry readings, short essays on subjects of a student’s choosing that relate to issues raised in the course, outside reading, etc.

On the other hand, if you wish to have your grades averaged, you may select that option. This must be done at the start of the semester by the end of the second week and cannot subsequently be changed. The averaging basis weighs all work numerically. It tells you where you are, but does not, in my opinion, reflect your true learning curve, as the “outcome basis’ does.

Note: it is course policy that all assigned work be completed in order for a student to pass this course.

Conferences. These will be arranged as needed. I am available to see you on a flexible basis and not necessarily during fixed office hours. Let me know in advance, and we can arrange appointments.

Special circumstances. Students with learning disabilities that might affect grading in this course are advised to notify the instructor at the start of the semester.

It goes without saying that the Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course.


This form is to give you feedback on your classroom performance in FYS 102. 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, as well.)















It goes without saying that the Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course.