American University of Central Asia - AUCA - FYS SYLLABUS


The First Year Seminar

Founded at Bard College, 1953

FYS 211 / 216 (FYS II)

American University of Central Asia

Spring Semester 2017




General Course Description


  1. What is FYS?

The First Year Seminar is a multidisciplinary course that brings students and faculty together in the exploration of specific issues or topics of interest. The exploration is usually centered on a theme: What is the “self”? How do we interpret human experience? Is wo/man a ‘political animal’? The theme for spring semester 2017 is human nature.

FYS is the core of the first-year experience at AUCA. It is designed to encourage students to explore important questions raised by a variety of texts--ranging from novels and poetry to classical texts in philosophical and scientific reasoning.

FYS gives first-year students a valuable opportunity to experience the benefits of college-level learning through seminar-style investigation. We have chosen works that range from ancient drama to modern investigations of race, class, political ideology, and gender.


  1. What is a seminar?

A seminar is a question-based class in which the instructor will expect students to participate actively in discussing assigned texts and raising additional questions about their meaning or implications. For that reason, the writings chosen for the seminar are designed to be challenging and thought-provoking. Instructors may pose questions directly to the students or invite students to pose their own questions to the members of the class.

A key element in the FYS is “interrogation”: you should learn to read and analyze a text on the basis of asking a range of questions that affect its interpretation or meaning: When was the text written? What does it say about its historical location, its author, ideology, its view of the past or vision of the future.


  1. What skills should I have or acquire in FYS?

The most important skill is to be able to read closely and proactively. This will often mean not simply reading for the sake of knowing what the writer has said, but in a “dialogic” way that makes you an attentive listener and respondent to the work at hand. We sometimes say that FYS is “text-based.” This does not mean that we use texts as authorities to settle problems--often quite the reverse. We use to texts to raise questions and as the basis for a thorough investigation of the subjects they embody.

In the spring semester you will also be introduced to the basics of academic research and writing. A topic will be assigned by, or negotiated with, your FYS instructor in the second week of term and you will begin almost immediately to focus on this project through individual reading, selection of library and electronic media, developing a bibliography and reporting the results of your investigation in a well-developed research essay.

  1. The Writing Component:

The American University of Central Asia is committed to encouraging clear, concise and sophisticated writing skills in all subject areas and majors. FYS is the foundational course in developing a high level of competence in academic writing. The course devotes a substantial portion of class sessions encouraging students to “think on paper,” in exercises designed to stress the relationship between thinking about what you have read and communicating your thoughts in clear expository style. These exercises may range from “free writing” (unstructured periods of random written work) to responsive writing, reflective pieces on assigned topics, and summaries, definitions, and short interpretations.

In the Spring Semester, 2015, you will write:

The due-dates for submission, given on the schedule below, should be regarded as approximate. Instructors are free to adjust dates to suit the pace of individual classes.

  1. Course Protocol and Assessment

6.1 Procedure and Conduct

  • Always bring the reader and a notebook or writing paper to class.
  • Turn off and put away your mobile phone in the classroom. A student using any electronic device that is unrelated to the academic work of class will be asked to excuse himself/herself. The portion of the class missed will be counted as an absence.
  • The student is solely responsible for finding out what instructions or assignments have been missed and making up any work due to absence.
  • When emailing instructors, write FYS 211 or 216 in the subject (title) line and allow up to two working days for a reply.
  • Keep copies of all graded work until the end of term.

6.2 Academic Honesty


AUCA’s Code of Conduct describes the rights and responsibilities of all students at AUCA. Students in FYS should pay particular attention to the section on plagiarism:

  1. Plagiarism

A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, words, or statements of another person without appropriate acknowledgment. A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge an indebtedness whenever he or she does any of the following:

3.1. Quotes another person's actual words, either oral or written;

3.2. Paraphrases another person's words, either oral or written;

3.3. Uses another person's idea, opinion, or theory; or

3.4. Borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material from work of the other student, unless the information is common knowledge.


If you are found to have plagiarized any portion of an assignment, you will fail that assignment. Multiple instances of plagiarism may result in the student failing the course. FYS instructors are authorized to use plagiarism-detecting technology (TURNITIN) to support their findings when plagiarism is suspected.

6.3 Assessment:

Assessment is based on a cumulative average of the following activities:

  • The two required essays, argumentative and research
  • Preparatory and investigative work related to the research essay, including the annotated bibliography, prospectus, abstract, final essay and revision
  • Informal, formal, and exploratory writing assignments, including exercises
  • Writing-related activities, including peer review
  • 70%


  • Reading, discussion, text- annotation, and related participatory activities requiring regular student attendance.
  • PLEASE NOTE: A student who, over a semester, misses the equivalent of a full week of FYS classes without medical or equivalent excuse will suffer a reduction of 10% of his/her FINAL GRADE
  • 30%


Penalties for late submission: An instructor may deduct a letter grade from any assignment submitted, without explicit permission for extension or without valid documented excuse, up to one week late and another letter grade for each subsequent week late.


Letter Grades only are to be given, rather than numerical grades:















Course Outline



“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”

― George Orwell.


“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”

― Albert Camus







Writing Schedule*



January 16


Introduction to the Seminar (M)

Epic Studies Part 1 (W-F)

“The Birth of Manas”




January 23


FYS Research Topic to be Discussed

Epic Studies, Part II: Gilgamesh

You may view in class:


Review of the Argument-essay format



January 30



Epic Studies, Part III: Gilgamesh

Instructors are free to set their own topics. Suggested Argument Essay Topic: In The Euthyphro, Socrates presupposes that there must be a real definition of holiness in terms of that which all instances of holiness have in common. Argue for or against this presupposition and in doing so pay close attention to the arguments in the dialogue.



February 6

Plato, The Euthyphro




Argument Essay Draft due Friday; revision






February 13

Simone Weil, “The Needs of the Soul,” from The Need for Roots



Argument Essay Final draft due Friday





February 20

Ludwig Feuerbach, “The Being of Man in General” and “The Essence of Religion in General”


Library workshops to reprise basics of research and citation



February 27

Daniel Dennett, “Explaining the Magic of Consciousness”

Library workshops continued.




March 6

Stephen Jay Gould, “What Is a Species?”




March 13


Sally Haslanger, “What Are We Talking About? The Semantics and Politics of Social Kinds”


Note Spring Break March 20 to March 24



March 27


Prospectus Writing and Research Week (Library and WARC Tutors). Classes do not meet.


Research Essay Prospectus (draft) due March 27


11. April 3


Human Nature in Short Fiction Unit Begins:

Flannery O’ Connor, “A Good man is Hard to Find”



Final prospectus due; Composition of research essay begins


12. April 10

Vladimir Nabokov, “Signs and Symbols”



13. April 17


Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and

W. W. Jacobs, the Monkey’s Paw”



Abstract of research essay due



14. April 24


E M Forster, “Mr. Andrews” and Roald Dahl, “The Man from the South”





Kurt Vonnegut on writing effectively



15. May 3


Note: Monday May 1 is Labor Day


Research Essay and all related written work must be submitted by Wednesday May 3


16. May 8








Learning Outcomes:

The FYS Seminar is designed to facilitate the following outcomes:

5.1 Reading, Interpretation, and Discussion

  • The ability to read a variety of texts from a range of disciplines and periods with moderate ease, fluency and comprehension.
  • The ability to access, evaluate and interpret information from a variety of sources including textual, visual, and electronically-mediated materials.
  • An enhanced ability to discuss and assess complex sources, arguments and ideas in oral discussion
  • The ability to read carefully, annotate carefully, summarize accurately, using a variety of methods and tools.
  • The development of critical thinking skills, including analysis, explanation, and evaluation.
  • Progress in reflective thinking, speaking and listening and the ability to synthesize information and ideas.

5.2 Writing and Reporting

To be familiar with the basic grammatical and syntactical conventions of formal English

To be proficient in the basic elements of essay development: viz.,

  • the development of controlling ideas and thesis statements
  • sentence structure and coordination
  • word usage: variety, precision, level and accuracy (vocabulary)
  • paragraph development: coherence, transitions, and subordination of ideas within and between units
  • stylistic consistency
  • conclusions and summary statements


To produce essays that show structure, purpose, and significant content

To use standard writing processes, genres and modes to generate a final essay

To develop, proofread, revise, and rewrite your own work on the basis of your own critical review and that of peers and instructors

To reflect on the writing process and your own rhetorical effectiveness as a writer, and to integrate comment, correction, and criticism into the revision of essays.

To develop basic skills in the craft of academic research, scholarly reporting, and citation, using a “body of knowledge” and supporting material inside a written work--paraphrase, quotation and description, using the APA style sheet. [Note: unless otherwise indicated, the preference in FYS211 and FYS 216 is the APA Style sheet]. The specific dates and exercises will be determined by individual FYS instructors.


American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028