Mary Ann Drake, Ph.D.

Freshman Seminar FYS 101     Composing the Self

TR 3:00- 4:10 Groover 112 (Lab T 4:15)

Office Hours

Home Page                                                              Policies and Grades                   

Email me:

Office  Phone 301-5616


Digital Stories



Fall 10 O Group

Wilderness Weekend


To begin your college career we will journey the path of self-exploration. How do I identify myself? How is my identity composed? Where and how does my-self intersect with others as my identity is formed? How does my race, class and gender frame and inform my self-development? How do poverty and privilege alter my self-development? How do I live consciously in a world that may no longer sustain us? These and other questions will be probed as you learn to read critically, self-reflect, write well, articulate your thoughts, write digital stories, use resources, meet others and learn about yourself. This is the nature of our course.

We are fortunate to have three Peer Advisors (Noah Maier and Sarah Wibell, and Sheetal Patel) working with us. They will help you with problems, projects, misunderstandings, academic difficulties, etc. They will comment on (but not grade papers and journals, help with discussions, lead some class sessions, and generally be available to help you or me. Use them respectfully and wisely.


There are no prerequisites for this course. I do expect you to rise to college level work in reading, writing, and speaking.


Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual
The Mercer Reader

Ellen Foster
by Kaye Gibbons ISBN: 0-375-70305-5
Shame of the Nation
by Jonathan Kohzol
A Dictionary
Other handouts as required


Read sections of a text and write a clear, error-free reflection/analysis.
Complete one or more texts and write a coherent, grammatically correct paper with a thesis, supporting arguments, and a conclusion.
Courteously participate in class discussion with good listening and speaking skills.
Read and write critically.
Develop critical thinking skills in applied situations.
Unite classroom experiences with real-world problem solving.
Acceptably give a coherent and organized digital story presentation
Become aware of what factors helped compose you.
Recognize the effect of early education in light of privilege and poverty
Demonstrate computer literacy in the use of e-mail, Internet, Blackboard, Facebook, and word processing.


 Attendance:   Attendance is critical and you are expected to come to class, to the fourth hour (T 4:15) and to required outside activities such as Service Learning activities and other events as required. More than three absences will affect your grade as follows: a reduction from A to B+ for the fourth absence, from B+ to B for the fifth, etc. If your grade is a  C in the course, absences four and five will reduce the grade to a D. Eight or more absences automatically means you fail the course.

Attendance includes participation. To participate means not only being in attendance, but also providing thoughtful, and informed input as your part of the classroom discussion. I am looking for evidence that you have read the text carefully and thought about the issues involved, and I observe your ability to contribute and listen, your moral courage in offering ideas, the appropriateness of your comments, and your tact and courtesy. See Policies and Grading for specifics.

You are expected to use your Mercer email, and be logged on to our private Facebook group, our Mercer Mobile group, and to monitor your grades, Blackboard.

Also, as part of your attendance and participation, you, either individually or with a partner will be responsible for leading discussion on class readings several times during the semester. Even though you are always expected to be prepared, you will be forewarned!

Daily Assignments “Dailies”:        

For one class session each week, you will submit a  (typed, no more than one page) analysis, which can relate to the questions for your Discovery Journal, and which demonstrates your understanding of the more important arguments or topics the author(s) is (are) trying to make in the day's assigned readings.

These dailies should identify a thesis or main point. Ask yourself what the author is trying to convince you of and how. These dailies are to be analytical. In closing, you can raise objections, voice agreement, or share any strong reactions the readings. This is NOT a summary; find a thesis and develop it.

Students are responsible for writing dailies on the assigned readings for their class day. You must cite for direct quotations and for paraphrasing or re-telling. These dailies are not to be argumentative or persuasive, rather, they are to be analytical (not for the sake of argument), but to understand. What does this mean? Look at the elements. How do they fit together? What have you learned? How might things be different? Engage in honest, self-reflective, critical analysis of the issues and actively use the texts. I expect clarity, creativity, depth, and concrete connections to the reading materials and class discussions. NO LATE dailies will be accepted, and there will be no extensions on dailies. Each daily note earns either a 9-10 (A),  7-8 (B), 5-6 (C), or 3-4 (schlacky, D). If there are no citations, it will earn a zero. Do NOT email dailies. We will sometimes post dailies to our private Facebook group for group editing.  


Students are to keep a three-ring binder to use as a  portfolio of all their written work, including dailies, journals, in class writings, revisions, etc. We will have intermittent revision sessions and students need to have access to their prior, graded work.

Pop quizzes as necessary. If I sense that students are not reading carefully and completely, I will give a pop quiz. If you are absent, you receive a zero, if you are tardy, you receive a zero, and your quiz grade over-rides your daily. If you write a flawless daily and fail the quiz, you receive an F for the day. It is your responsibility to be fully prepared for class.

Paper Assignments:   Three essays and one final response paper are required. Papers must be typed using proper margins (1") and a standard type font (12 point). Papers are to be stapled, and have your name on each page along with the page number. See below for specific guidelines. NO LATE  PAPERS.  DO NOT EMAIL PAPERS TO ME. Keep a hard copy of your paper as well as a backup disk in case there is a catastrophe. Guidelines for paper grading are on Web-ct. UN-PAGINATED PAPERS WILL NOT BE GRADED.

At any time if you want to discuss a paper grade, come see me. If you receive an F on a paper, see me immediately.

Computer/printer/software difficulties are not considered sufficient grounds for late work. Missing class is no excuse for a late paper. Students should allow ample time for their work to be completed to allow for unforeseen difficulties. That is why I have a detailed syllabus with due dates marked from the beginning of the semester.

Assignments must adhere to the length, format and topic matter requested to avoid grade reductions. If you are dissatisfied with a grade, please discuss it with me immediately, not later in the semester.

**** Each of you will participate in an attic installation project, which we can schedule in as convenient a manner as possible.

Paper Format Guidelines

Expanded grammar information and guidance may be found at:  or


NO TITLE PAGE Titles are to be centered and capitalized on the first page of your narrative.  Do not underline or put quotation marks around the title.  Include a Works Cited page and follow MLA citation style.  Format your document using 1 inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and page numbers.  Refer to Diana Hacker’s A Pocket Style Manual or The Bedford Handbook if you have questions.  


 The papers are as follows:             

   1. Paper one: Personal Narrative
2. Paper Two: Using at least three of the texts as references, describe how you will both use and move beyond
    your family culture.
3. Paper Three: Using at least two of the texts as references (one must be Aristotle), describe how you navigate relationships.
4. Paper Four: Responses to a set of end-of-the-semester questions.

 Digital Stories

Besides the final project, each student will develop one digital story. The due dates for the stories are on the Calendar of Events. Instruction and story development will occur within the context of the course, and written instructions are available on Webct and on this webpage: DS Instructions.

Digital Story:

Your digital story will be presented to the class and maybe guests, during the last few days of school. The presentation will be a creative effort, which incorporates what you learned from your service learning experience at Joshua House intertwined with what you learned about how one composes oneself and fits in the environment.  How do factors of race, socio-economic status, privilege, or gender affect this composition? How do pride, courage, honor, and heroism frame one’s selfhood? How is one a good steward of our earth?

 Outside Class Activities:

Each student will be involved in one civic engagement project and the requisite training. The Afterschool Project  will require everyone's participation in two ways. One to learn the requisite skills required for the project at the school, and the other is to implement the project in the after school setting.. More to come later.  ALL STUDENTS MUST BE INVOLVED IN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Other outside assignments and activities as they emerge.


Papers 30%           (Three essays and responsive paper)
    Digital Story 10%                
    Dailies 10%
    Participation/ 25%  
    Portfolios/Journals 25%

                  90-100 = A                                    77-79 = C+         
                  87-89 = B+                                    70-76 = C
                  80-86 = B                                      60-69 = D

Students are responsible for the information on the Policies and Grading page of the syllabus. See above link or access via Blackboard.