Department of Writing and Rhetoric

Write Here, Write Now.

Liberal Arts 102

First-Year Seminar

While the LIBA 102 seminars are all different and depend on the expertise of the faculty conducting them, they share pedagogical goals and are a part of the same sequenced first year writing instruction. On this page, we provide information about the overall course purpose and goals; we also provide links to the individual course descriptions provided by each instructor.

Course description:

LIBA 102 is a first-year writing course conducted within the context of a research area within a specific discipline designed to build on writing abilities learned in WRIT 100/101. The course works to develop critical thinking and research abilities appropriate for use in academic writing within a particular discipline. The course pays special attention to developing argumentation, analysis of texts, and synthesis of information into thoughtful, coherent written projects. Students enrolled in LIBA 102 produce papers that are longer and more in depth than in WRIT 100/101. The course culminates in a final portfolio of the student’s work.

Course Purpose

The objectives of this course are

  1. to develop writing abilities learned in WRIT 100/101, including the understanding that writing is a process that develops over time through revision (Writing Process);
  2. to write for specific purposes and for specific audiences (Purposes and Audience);
  3. to respond critically to different points of view so that the student creates effective and sustained arguments (Exploration and Argumentation);
  4. to become proficient at locating primary and secondary research from a variety of sources and at evaluating the reliability of sources (Research); and
  5. to become effective researchers and writers of research papers as a member of an active writing, reading, and researching community, understanding that such writing should be free of serious grammatical and mechanical errors while following disciplinary writing conventions (Conventions and Mechanics).

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about LIBA 102. If you have a question that is not answered here, please click “Contact Us,” above, and send us a message. Someone will respond promptly to your inquiry.

Which course requires more work/writing, WRIT 102 or LIBA 102?

While the specific amount of work that is assigned in any class is up to each individual instructor, the general guidelines for the amount and type of work done in each class are the same.

What requirements do LIBA 102 and WRIT 102 fulfill?

Either course fulfills the second sequence of the core first-year composition requirements.

Is there a common textbook required for LIBA 102 courses?

All courses use the handbook,A Writer’s Reference Ole Miss edition; additional books are at the discretion of the instructor, although supplementary texts should be identified in the course proposal.

What are the differences between WRIT 102 and LIBA 102?

WRIT 102 courses are theme-based (Food, Literature, Business, Environment, and Pop Culture) and are taught by either CWR faculty, adjunct instructors, and graduate student instructors. LIBA 102 courses are designed around a research interest by an established disciplinary expert. Some LIBA 102 instructors are professors from the Ole Miss academic community, while others are professors or artists from other colleges or universities or from a specific disciplinary field.

Spring 2018 Course Offerings

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Writing About Film with Whitney Hubbard

This course is designed for students to learn how to integrate the language of film with various compositional modes. Students will use certain films as vehicles to compose a variety of assignments.
Section 1 – T TH 11:00A-12:15P
Section 7 – T TH 02:30P-03:45P


Under the Influence: An Introduction to Rhetoric with Angela Green

This course introduces students to the study of rhetoric.
Section 2 – T TH 01:00P-02:15P
Section 15 – T TH 02:30P-03:45P


Writing About True Crime with Bill Boyle

This course explores the way that true crime directs our attention to the dark underside of reality and reveals an aspect of the human condition that captivates and horrifies us. Over the last couple of years, an even bigger mainstream true crime audience has been drawn in by the success of NPR’s podcast Serial and HBO’s The Jinx miniseries, but these are only the latest storytelling vehicles in a genre that has run the gamut from murder ballads to tabloid newspapers to “nonfiction novels” (as Truman Capote called his masterpiece In Cold Blood). In this class, students will seek to consider our relationship as readers, viewers, and listeners to these stories that we consume and are consumed by.
Section 3 – T TH 01:00P-02:15P
Section 13 – T TH 11:00A-12:15P
Section 27 – T TH 04:00P-05:15P


Beyond Protest:  Music Affecting Social Change with Greg Johnson

While music often simply mirrors cultural, societal, and political landscapes of the time in which it is composed, it is also used to affect changes and directly influence societies and institutions.  Throughout history, musicians have written music critical of oppressive governments, disagreeable political policies, dangerous societal attitudes, and hypocritical religious leaders or teachings.  This course will examine the many varied ways music has been used as an agent of social change throughout history, in various cultures, and through different musical genres.  Students will learn about music of the Nueva Canción movement in Latin America; Mapfumo and other protest musicians of Africa; war protest songs from the American Revolution, Vietnam, and modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  From Violetta Para to Frank Zappa, Pete Seeger to Green Day, Josh White to Nina Simone, and Dmitri Shostakovich to Joan Baez, students will be exposed to a wide array of musical dissent, of varying genres and time periods.  In addition to critical listening and analytical skills, the student will learn to utilize library resources to improve research quality.
Section 4 – T TH 04:00P-05:15P


Stories of the Apocalypse: How Civilization Imagines the End with Sean Ennis

The purpose of this course is to expose students to writing, both fiction and non-fiction, that explores great disruptions to life as we know it.  Our culture is increasingly interested in thinking about its own end, and I hope to create a space where these ideas can be discussed in an academic setting.  While some of the texts we’ll discuss may describe fantastic events, the course really is an examination of the individual’s relationships to institutions like the government, organized religion, the military, science, family, etc.
Section 5 – M W F 12:00P-12:50P
Section 20 M W F 01:00P-01:50P


The Southern Experience: Writing Southern Cultural History  with Jimmy Thomas

This course examines how Southern culture and identity are represented in literature, music, film, religion, language, and even food. Through the lenses of race, class, and gender, we will gain a deeper understanding of the South as a concept, which will ultimately serve to enhance our understanding of the South as a place.
Section 6 – T TH 02:30P-03:45P
Section 11 – T TH 05:00P-06:15P


From Farm to Fork: Going Green Locally with Emily Cooley

The purpose of this course is to challenge students to consider the impact their everyday decisions about food have on their health, local community, nation, world and environment.  This course will examine how our food is grown, where it comes from, and how it gets here.  We will consider the benefits and challenges of local sourcing.  The effects of corporate farming and the modern agri-business model will also be explored.
Section 9 – T TH 01:00P-02:30P


Writing Through Horror Film with Jenny Jackson

This course introduces students to the broad range of theoretical, formal, and historiographic issues specific to horror film as well as build on their skills as academic writers through these same forums. Not only will we watch horror film and discuss what we watch, we will read scholarship regarding horror film, and we will engage with that scholarship through analytical, critical, research-based writing
Section 10 – TTH 05:00P-06:15P


The Rhetoric of Sports Image: How Athlete’s Language Works For and Against Them with Guy Krueger

Few people’s words are scrutinized more carefully than those of athletes. Politicians, judges, and doctors, for example, are all often under the public microscope. Many people look to get behind or attack what they say. But their roles can all impact our lives in very obvious ways. Athletes play games. Why, then, do their words and actions carry so much public currency? Why do some athletes maintain huge Twitter followings? Why do some athletes’ words and actions make more than just the sports news?

In this course, we will examine the rhetoric of sports and how the words and actions of some athletes and organizations shape their public personas in ways that are both advantageous and damaging. We will look at tropes and originality to determine how identities are shaped and what they mean. Further, we will research media coverage of and social media usage by athletes and organizations to analyze how we understand the rhetoric and what role it plays in our love/hate relationship with sports and sports figures. 

The class should help students gain in their abilities to decode and analyze rhetoric through both classroom discussion and through individual research. Further, they should improve their reading, writing, and revising skills through frequent out-of-class and in-class reading and numerous formal and informal writing assignments. While sports and athletes will be the subject matter, the skills students hone in the course will be broadly applicable.
Section 12 – M W F 10:00A-10:50A


Writing History Through American Presidential Elections with Jeff Bourdon

The purpose of this course is to learn to write history in an academic setting through analyzing and evaluating American presidential elections. Students will be exposed to American history from 1787 to the present.
Section 14 – M W F 02:00P-02:50P
Section 19 – M W F 12:00P-12:50P


Guts, Google, and Green Living: Writing About Science with Emily Howorth

How does the human digestive system work? How do mathematicians predict election outcomes? Which is smarter—a robot or an octopus? With a focus on science-related subject material, this course asks students to analyze rhetoric and language, synthesize arguments, create multimodal presentations, and conduct research to inform an evidence-based position essay that includes a call to action.
Section 16 – T TH 02:30P-03:45P


Performing Gender: From Disney to Drag with Colleen Thorndike

Section 17 – T TH 05:00P-06:15P


Anime: Fans and Critics with Wendy Goldberg

In the last twenty years, Japanese animation, or anime, has reached a global audience, and this pop culture phenomenon has shown both a surprising staying power and a robust influence on native popular cultures. The focus of this course is to explore various academic approaches that have developed over this time. Students will learn how to write about anime as an academic critic and explore a variety of scholarly approaches, including, but not limited to, formal analyses of anime conventions, of the material conditions of production, and of fan practices, such as cosplay and fanfiction.
Section 18 – T TH 02:30P-03:435P


Writing About Science Fiction with Patrick McGinn

This class exposes students to some of the more important science fiction writing from the genre’s inception in the nineteenth century to the present, and to enhance the student’s writing and critical thinking skills as he or she confronts the imaginative experiences and ideas presented within the literature. In addition to these themes, and others, one question that undoubtedly will reappear is what do our own utopian and dystopian visions of the future reveal about ourselves, now, in our own time.
Section 21 – M W F 12:00P-12:50P
Section 22 – M W F 11:00A-11:50A


The Civil War in Virginia, the Road to Appomattox with Donald Trott

The Civil War was a pivotal time in United States history and the outcomes gave a new direction to the nation. During the years 1861-1865, a majority of the battles fought during the conflict occurred in Virginia. An examination of these battles is a study of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Union armies that tried to eliminate them. Growing up in Virginia, I was exposed to this history at an early age and found it fascinating. Throughout my adult life, I continue to read various accounts and visit the battlefields, where so much carnage took place, always trying to grasp the reasons why so many died for their beliefs.
Section 23 – M W F 10:00A-10:50A


Writing About Graphic Novels with Marc Watkins

A graphic novel or comic combines the printed word and visual action to form a new reading experience that is unique and stylized. The past twenty years have seen comic books be made into films or TV shows, with Marvel and DC comics earning billions at the box office and television adaptations of The Walking Dead and Preacher helping garner comics and graphic novels more mainstream status. However, many artists began to respond to this transition by exploring ways to make their creative work grounded in the genre so that it would be nearly impossible to translate into film or television. Recent comic series like Saga and East of West explore the limits of the genre by developing original storylines, visually arresting illustrations, and expansive world building. Students will consider the relationship between narrative and visual design, and also be asked to consider issues of gender, sexuality, race, exploitation, and violence. Additionally, students will explore what biases we have as readers? What is the relationship between many of these issues and our current culture? This course will focus on analyzing the above issues, along with asking students to analyze and reflect on their own ideas.
Section 25 – M W F 10:00A-10:50A
Section 26 – M W F 09:00A-09:50A


WRIT 102 Theme Descriptions
WRIT 102 and LIBA 102 fulfill the same course requirements.