Romer College: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
St. Lawrence University First Year Program

Fall, 2004


(Please go to

for the current version of this syllabus)



Dr. Jon Gottschall
Office: Rebert 165
Phone: x5305
Office Hours: TBA
Seminar: Wednesday, 1:40 - 3:10,
          Valentine 106

Dr. Daniel Koon
Office: Bewkes 221
Phone: x5494
Office Hours: TBA
Seminar: Wednesday,
          Bewkes 232


CA’s: Jane Motoru: Rebert 144, x6173 and Majohnica Peabody-Dowling: Rebert 247, x6219

RC: Ivania Marinero: Rebert 163, x5527
Mentor: Joe Kurowski: Sykes 1011, x6625
Plenary Meetings: T, Th 10:10-11:40
Plenary Room: Valentine 205-6


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Horace said that the function of literature is both to delight and to instruct. Few literary genres reflect the wisdom of his claim more clearly than science fiction, which allows us to wander among strange figures in exotic worlds while we learn (almost despite ourselves) about science and the complicated ways it affects human lives. In this course we will explore some of history's most delightful and instructive science fiction novels, short stories, and films: from novels like Vonnegut's Galápagos and Dick's Do androids dream of electric sheep?, to short stories by masters like Asimov and Heinlein, to films like Andrew Niccol's Gattaca and the Wachowski brothers' The Matrix. As we study these works we will have at least three goals in mind: to experience the pleasure of losing ourselves in works of science fiction, to learn some of the science on which these works are based, and to investigate how it is that science can be portrayed both as humanity's precious gift and its dark curse.


      Two short writing projects, revised and edited, plus miscellaneous in-class writing assignments.
      Final fiction project, revised and edited. Stories will be published in online e-zine, The Android Times, subject to permission of author and editors
      Writing Portfolio: Informal essays, response writings, in-class writings, critical analyses, all of them dated and organized.
      Two formal oral projects, revised, rehearsed, and graded 1-4.
      Regular informal oral participation in plenary and seminar. (“Class participation”)

Grading Criteria:

Short Papers

30% (2 projects @ 15% each)

Final Paper





25% (Project #1 10% Project #2 15%)

Quizzes, informal classroom writing




Both the FYP plenary and the seminar are participation courses. Our success as a college depends upon everyone being in class and coming prepared to participate. Therefore, regular attendance is mandatory. Attendance will be taken each day, and your final grade will be docked one half letter grade (e.g. 4.0 to 3.5) for each absence, excused or unexcused, beyond the first three. Students who arrive late for class will be marked as absent. If you feel you have special circumstances that prevent you from arriving on time, you need to discuss them with your instructor before the end of the first full week of classes.

Each piece of work in this course is part of a sequence, which means that each assignment depends upon the previous and looks ahead to the next. For that reason, it is critical that all work is handed in on time. Late work that is part of a formal written or oral project will be penalized by a reduced grade. Response writings turned in late will receive a zero.

Informal writing assignments:
Periodically you will be given informal writing assignments, such as short reflection papers, discussion questions, outlines, in-class response writing, etc. These should all be dated, and should be collected in your portfolio after they are handed back.

Portfolio and self-assessment essay:
All of your work for the semester should be compiled into a portfolio and turned in at the end of the semester along with a 2 page self evaluation which highlights your work, the specific progress you have made, and the areas in which you see a need for improvement. It should not be a justification of, or argument against, the grade you receive in the course. This is a self-evaluation, not an evaluation of the course.

Changes to the schedule:
It is certainly possible that the order of events on this syllabus may change as the semester progresses. We will make every effort to notify you about such changes as soon, and as frequently, as possible. However, it remains YOUR responsibility to be aware of such changes. Attendance in class and reading your email on a regular basis will ensure that you always know of any changes. “I didn’t know we changed that” is NOT a legitimate excuse for late or missing work.

Academic Honesty:
You are responsible for knowing the University’s Academic Honesty Policy. (See below, or your Student Handbook.) Your instructors, unfortunately, are familiar with detecting plagiarism and successfully prosecuting it. Trust us: it ain’t worth it.

Special needs students:
If you need accommodation for special needs, please contact your instructor -- JG, DK – by the end of the first full week of classes. Please also contact the Office for Academic Services for Students with Special Needs (homepage, e-mail) as soon as possible. Another useful office for all students is the Academic Achievement Office, which can set you up with tutoring for this and other courses.


Science Fiction Novels:
Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World (Selected Chapters)

Vonnegut, Kurt. Galápagos
Wells, H. G. The Time Machine

Science Fiction Short Stories:
Asimov, Isaac. Story from I, Robot, TBA

Heinlein, Robert. All you zombies.
Heinlein, Robert. Lifeline.
Kessel, John. Invaders.

Writings on Science:
City Speed Limit (Gamow and Stannard)

Genetic Engineering (TBA)

Descartes' First Meditation
Writer’s Guide:
Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference.

Required Films/Recordings:
Blade Runner
The Matrix

La Jetée

Twelve Monkeys

Other possible films, TBA


(Subject to change: Bookmark and return frequently)


T Aug 24

Advising, Introduction to syllabus, course & course policies

TH 26

Invaders (Kessel). Homelanding (Atwood)

T 31

Definitions of science fiction

W Sept. 1

Seminar, TBA


TH 2

The Matrix, The brain in the vat Descartes' First Meditation,

Optical illusions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,


T 7

All you zombies (Heinlein)

Time as the fourth dimension, Relativity

W 8

Seminar, TBA

TH 9

Relativity reading

T 14

La Jetée and Twelve Monkeys.

W 15

Seminar, TBA

TH 16

The Time Machine (Wells), Ch. 1, 4, Lifeline (Heinlein)

(5 dimensions and more)

T 21

First draft of WRITTEN PROJECT #1 DUE

W 22

Seminar, TBA


TH 23

Documentary: Real Life, Artificial Life

AI Links

T 28

In-class work on Oral Presentations

W 29

In-class work on Oral Presentations

TH 30

More in-class work on Oral Presentations

Final draft of WRITTEN PROJECT #1 due

T Oct. 5


W 6


TH 7


T 12

Do androids dream of electric sheep? (Dick)

W 13

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

TH 14

No class -- Mid-semester break

T 19

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

W 20

PM meeting: Pizza & film (Blade runner), instead of class

Outline of WRITTEN PROJECT #2 due


TH 21

Selections from Brave New World (Huxley)

T 26


First draft of WRITTEN PROJECT #2 due

W 27

Seminar, TBA

TH 28

Genetic engineering


T Nov. 2

Galápagos (Vonnegut)

Donald Brown's Human universals, FAQs on evolution

Final draft of WRITTEN PROJECT #2 due

W 3

Seminar, TBA

TH 4

Galápagos (Vonnegut)

T 9

Galápagos (Vonnegut)

W 10

Seminar, TBA

TH 11



T 16

Library work for Final project

W 17

Seminar, TBA

TH 18

Small Group Work. Useful links: Creative Writing Tips, SF Writing ("How I write")

T 23

No Class - Thanksgiving Break

W 24

No Class - Thanksgiving Break

TH 25

No Class - Thanksgiving Break

T 30

Small Group Work in Preparation of Oral Presentations

W Dec. 1

Seminar, TBA

TH 2

Small Group Work in Preparation of Oral Presentations

T 7


W 8


TH 9


Dec 13 – 17


Who was Alfred Romer ?

Return to FYP syllabus page, Koon's homepage




All students at St. Lawrence University are bound by honor to maintain the highest level of academic integrity. By virtue of membership in the St. Lawrence community, every student accepts the responsibility to know the rules of academic honesty, to abide by them at all times, and to encourage all others to do the same.

Responsibility for avoiding behavior or situations from which academic dishonesty may be inferred rests entirely with the students. Claims of ignorance, unintentional error, and academic or personal pressure are not excuses for academic dishonesty. Students should be sure to learn from faculty what is expected as their own work and how the work of other people should be acknowledged. Instructors are expected to maintain conditions which promote academic honesty.

Instructors have the duty to investigate any instance involving possible academic dishonesty and must present evidence of academic dishonesty to the Academic Honor Council rather than make private arrangements with the student involved. Violations of the St. Lawrence University Code of Academic Honor are administered under the constitution of the Academic Honor Council [See Student Handbook for the Constitution].


Academic Honesty

The primary objective of the University is the promotion of knowledge. This objective can be furthered only if there is strict adherence to scrupulous standards of honesty. At St. Lawrence, all members of the University community have a responsibility to see that standards of honesty and integrity are maintained.

Students who respect academic honesty and who are orderly and meticulous in their treatment of both their own work and the work of others should anticipate no difficulty with cheating, plagiarism, or other forms of academic dishonesty. Borrowing ideas or language from others is acceptable scholarly practice and in many instances actively to be encouraged.

Academic dishonesty generally arises from one of two sources: either a student has knowingly cheated or plagiarized or he/she has been careless or slipshod in discriminating between his/her own work and that of others or in acknowledging sources accurately. These latter difficulties are easily circumvented. Any standard handbook on English usage or term paper writing manual will furnish a methodology as well as appropriate internal reference, endnote, or bibliographical forms (cf., for example, the Harbrace Handbook, A Guide to MLA Documentation, or Writers Inc.).


Academic Honesty

A major objective of the University is the pursuit of knowledge which can be achieved only by strict adherence to standards of honesty. At St. Lawrence, all members of the community have a responsibility to see that these standards are maintained.


Academic Dishonesty

1. It is assumed that all work submitted for credit is done by the student unless the instructor gives specific permission for collaboration.

2. Cheating on examinations and tests consists of knowingly giving or using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance during examinations or tests.

3. Dishonesty in work outside of examinations and tests consists of handing in for credit as original work that which is not original, where originality is required.


The following constitute examples of academic dishonesty:

a)      Plagiarism: Presenting as one's own work the work of another person - words, ideas, data, evidence, thoughts, information, organizing principles, or style of presentation-without proper attribution. Plagiarism includes paraphrasing or summarizing without acknowledgment by quotation marks, footnotes, endnotes, or other indices of reference (cf. Joseph F. Trimmer, A Guide to MLA Documentation).

b)      Handing in false reports on any experiment.

c)       Handing in a book report on a book one has not read.

d)      Falsification of attendance records of a laboratory or other class meeting.

e)      Supplying information to another student knowing that such information will be used in a dishonest way.

f)        Submission of work (papers, journal abstracts, etc.) which has received credit in a previous course to satisfy the requirement(s) of a second course without the knowledge and permission of the instructor of the second course.


Claims of ignorance and academic or personal pressure are unacceptable as excuses for academic dishonesty. Students must learn what constitutes one's own work and how the work of others must be acknowledged.


St. Lawrence students are required to sign the following statement prior to registration for classes:

"I hereby acknowledge that I have read the above document and I understand my responsibility in maintaining the standards of academic honesty at St. Lawrence University."



FYP Communication Skills Component

Statement of Philosophy

First-Year colleges provide ideal environments for fostering the complex intellectual and social skills that are at the heart of a liberal education. The First-Year Program (FYP)/ First-Year Seminars (FYS) play a significant part in the development of students’ abilities to communicate effectively and to use writing and speaking to help them to become critical readers of a variety of texts.

Improving student abilities in reading, writing, speaking and research requires serious, sustained practice and overt, in-class reflection upon that practice.  A critical feature of this sustained practice is that students receive detailed, constructive response to their work from instructors, from peers, and from mentors and/or Writing Center tutors.

Underlying the teaching of communication skills in the FYP and the FYS is the assumption that these courses are components of a university-wide, four-year commitment to teaching communication skills across the undergraduate curriculum.


Though the goals for speaking, writing, and research are discussed in separate sections below, they are related activities. Instruction in these skills is most effective when grounded in a holistic view of communication.  Students should be made aware of the differences and similarities between oral and written modes of discourse.


1. Oral Communication

By the end of the FYP/FYS students should demonstrate an increased ability:

a)   to develop an oral presentation through a series of drafts, demonstrating substantial conceptual and performative revision.

b)   to produce a speech with a clearly defined rhetorical purpose that is appropriately and adequately fulfilled given the audience being addressed.

c)   to use informal conversation, in class or out, to facilitate close reading and promote critical thinking.

d)  to speak from notes or outline, rather than from a manuscript or in an impromptu fashion.

2. Written Communication

By the end of the FYP/FYS, students should demonstrate an increased ability:

a)  to develop a piece of writing through a series of drafts, demonstrating substantial revision at both the conceptual and the sentence level.

b) to produce an essay with a clearly defined rhetorical purpose that is appropriately and adequately fulfilled given the audience being addressed.

c) to use informal writing, done in class or out, in journals, reader-response papers, or exploratory essays, to facilitate close reading and promote critical thinking.

d) to produce writing that is characterized by a mature prose style and that conforms to the conventions of standard written English.

3. Research

By the end of the FYP/FYS, students should be better able to conduct productive, imaginative research.  Specifically, they should demonstrate an increased ability:

a)  to assess the research requirements of a particular assignment and to meet those requirements by using library collections, electronic databases, and Web-based sources.

b)  to be able to choose amongst the sources to determine which are most appropriate for a particular assignment.

c)  to assess and represent the complexity of a particular line of inquiry and to enter responsibly into the conversation about the issues it raises.


I.  FYP courses

An FYP course will be approved if students:

a) are given diverse and repeated opportunities to write and speak, including the opportunity to write and speak in response to readings, discussions, lectures, films, etc.  These responses may occur in class or out, and they may take many forms: freewriting, open or directed journals, graded or ungraded exploratory essays, essay exams, small group discussion, impromptu discussion, oral exams

b) are required to engage in at least three formal, graded writing projects.  A “project” requires that students develop a piece of writing over time on the basis of appropriate feedback at a number of stages in the process

c) are required to engage in at least two oral communication projects, one of which undergoes a process of revision.  A “project” requires that students develop a speech over time on the basis of appropriate feedback at a number of stages in the process.  At least one speech must be extemporaneous, by which we mean that students should deliver a prepared speech from an outline or minimal notes

d) are required to conduct library research and use the sources as an integral part of at least one written and/or oral project

e) are instructed in and held responsible for the ethical use of sources

f) are required to keep all of their written work in a course portfolio, to reflect in writing upon their work, and to submit the completed portfolio to their faculty for review

II.   First-Year Seminars

A First-Year Seminar will be approved if students:

a) are given diverse and repeated opportunities to write and speak, including opportunities to benefit from detailed formative feedback from instructors and peers

b) are asked to assess adequately the research requirements of a particular assignment and to seek out efficiently the means of meeting those requirements

c) are given diverse opportunities to incorporate  appropriate illustrative or persuasive detail in oral and written communication
d) are required to complete at least one and no more than two projects comprising some combination of formal and informal oral, written, and research activities that demonstrate a satisfactory grasp of the program’s communication goals

e) are instructed in and held responsible for the ethical use of sources

f) are required to assemble all their work in a portfolio that includes a written assessment of that work, and to submit the completed portfolio to their faculty for review


In addition, it is strongly recommended:

1. that students engage in oral and written assignments that address a variety of audiences, ranging from instructors and peers to other imagined or real audiences.

2. that students write and speak for a variety of purposes: to explore, to express, to inform, and to persuade

3. that students be encouraged to respond to texts via creative projects

4. that students engage in a variety of research tasks that encourage critical use of sources

5. that colleges include assignments that require the production and analysis of visual images, so as to improve visual literacy


Residential Philosophy and Goals

First-Year college students face what is for many a difficult transition from high school to college. This transition requires moving from a relatively structured environment to one that offers significant freedom. Research on the transition to college has shown that students are most successful when they build connections to other students, faculty, and the college community. FYP staff and faculty help students to begin to build these connections during orientation when students, faculty and staff meet together for college meetings, discussion of American Voices, and academic advising. In the remainder of the fall semester, students are taking a class with their residential peers. Course material from the FYP class provides a fertile ground for meaningful conversations in the residence hall. Additionally, college faculty and residential staff work together to develop programming in the residence hall that connects to the course and that furthers discussion among students, faculty and residential staff.

A central challenge of a residential college is to assist students in learning to take advantage of personal freedom in ways that do not infringe upon others. Of crucial importance in meeting this challenge is that a college campus is first and foremost an academic community, even while it is also a place to grow psychologically and socially. By the time students graduate, we expect that they will be able to live together in an atmosphere of respect with minimal intervention by university staff and faculty. In order to begin to foster the growth necessary for students to reach this developmental point, the First-Year Program encourages students to reflect upon the effects of their actions on others. We wish to help students recognize that a relativist framework that asserts that all needs are equal is not appropriate given that St. Lawrence is an academic community. We will also work to foster in students a respect for university officials that comes from understanding university rules and policies as reasonable guidelines for living together, without infringing on the rights of others. In cases where students do not believe that rules and guidelines are reasonable, we will work with them to responsibly challenge these policies. Further, we will assist students in understanding that their academic and residential lives can be connected in ways that help them to meet multiple goals, such as developing friendships, becoming better students, and building connections to colleagues who may never become close friends.

The first year of college is the first stage of a four year process in which students take increasing control of their living arrangements. In the First-Year Program, we begin to help them to take responsibility by fostering an understanding of how living and learning can be integrated in ways that foster both academic and social growth.

Statement of Goals:

Faculty, residential staff, and students will work together:

· to promote the integration of the academic and residential experience

· to encourage students to move towards patterns of living together which reflect principles of mutuality and accountability

· to encourage students to understand their rights and responsibilities as individuals residing in living/learning communities. For example, we will work together to develop communities in which each student has enough quiet time to study and sleep enough to succeed as a student by helping residents to understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to quiet hours and courtesy hours.

· to help students make use of residential staff and faculty in exercising their rights and responsibilities while they develop the capacity for self-management

· to identify and confront conflicts before they become destructive of the living/learning community.