Liba 102 courses cover topics from drag shows to sports heroes

Posted on Oct 16 2018 - 5:50am by Allen Brewer

Some students think writing is a drag. Others say writing makes them scream. From the perspective of Angela Green, core lecturer of writing and enrichment, this is a good thing.

This spring, Ole Miss students will be able to choose from a wide variety of Liberal Arts (Liba) 102 sections with themes such as drag queen performances, horror movies and true crime, among others.

“We designed these courses to appeal to specific students,” Green said. “We would rather get students in a class that both meets their time requirements and appeals to their interests. We are trying to provide as many offerings to different types of students.”

Some of the new sections that will be added to the course schedule this coming semester are section 14, about “How to Live a Long and Healthy Life;” section 16, exploring the question “What is Southern Music and Why?” and section 27, called “And the Fans Go Wild.”

Writing instructor Shirley Gray, who will be teaching “How to Live a Long and Healthy Life,” said her goal for her class is to make students question what it means to be healthy.

“For the second year in a row, the life expectancy of Americans has dropped,” Gray said.  “Infants born this year are expected to enjoy a shorter lifespan than their parents or grandparents. This seems at odds with the incredible advances that scientists have made in understanding human health.”

Students who take this class will learn about health topics through class discussion, selected reading and documentaries, research and writing projects and some out-of-class activities. An example of a health-related activity might be for students to see how easy it is to find healthy snacks around campus.

In “And the Fans Go Wild,” adjunct professor of writing Bill Hays and his students will explore the depiction of sports heroes in films.

Some popular Liba 102 sections will be taught again, including “Writing Through Horror Film,” “Writing About True Crime” and “Gender’s a Drag.”

This will be writing instructor Colleen Thorndike’s second semester teaching “Gender’s a Drag,” which will focus on how gender inhabits everyday actions. The class will discuss elaborate gender performances such as drag queens’ shows representation in the media.

“In addition to reading essays, we’ll look at TV shows such as ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and documentaries such as Katie Couric’s ‘Gender Revolution’ and Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s ‘The Mask You Live In,’” Thorndike said.

Thorndike said she will change a few things about her section from last year. She said she plans to cut the unit about Disney movies and teach more about how ideas and expectations based on gender are coded into cultural texts. Other changes will include new documentaries and projects for students.

“Last year my Liba class was one of my favorite classes I have taught, and I hope this year’s class is even better,” Thorndike said.

Students also have the option to choose from five sections of Writing (Writ) 102. Next semester’s sections of Writing 102 will include themes such as pop culture, food, environment, business and power and privilege.

“The difference between the themes comes down to the kinds of texts the students use in the class,” said Wendy Goldberg, a writing core lecturer. “The themes also shape the kinds of questions we may explore in a variety of papers. We would like to see theme awareness and student choice rise.”

Goldberg said she conducts a survey of Writing 102 each spring to see if the students selected classes based on their themes. According to her, only 30 to 40 percent of students specifically chose what section to enroll in based on the theme of the course.

“I really liked my Writ 102 class,” said Madeleine Porter, a sophomore English education major and writing center peer consultant. “To be honest, I didn’t know what theme I chose when I signed up for the class, so I was pleasantly surprised.”

Liba 102 and Writ 102 fill the same requirements for graduation. While the classes have the same outcomes, students are not able to take both courses. To take either course, students must pass Writ 100, Writ 101, Honors 101 or Liba 101.

“In many cases, (Liba 102 and Writ 102) will even have similar assignments, and they are equally rigorous,” Green said. “The main difference is that Liba 102 has (a) more specialized area because we often have people teaching those classes who are specialists in a particular discipline.”