Studies in the Literature of Life Writing

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
ENGL 1118
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
In this course, students will explore life writing, reading works such as biography, memoir, travel literature, diaries and letters. Students may read some fictional works as well, for comparison purposes.
Course Content

All first-year English literature courses share the following features:

  1. Students are instructed in the writing of critical essays on literary subjects.
  2. Students are taught to recognize and understand a variety of literary devices and textual elements, such as metaphor, symbolism, distinctions between author and narrator/narrating persona, and issues of language and of structure, as appropriate to the genres and texts studied.
  3. Readings and topics vary among sections of the same course, according to each instructor’s selection; however, all course materials are consistent with the objectives of the course. 

In English 1118, students will examine works in at least three of the following forms of life writing:

  1. Autobiographical prose (long or short works, ranging from the personal essay or creative non-fiction to novel-length works);
  2. Autobiographical poetry;
  3. Autobiographical drama (full-length play, performance essay or dramatic monologue);
  4. Memoir;
  5. Biography;
  6. Travel narrative;
  7. Journals/diaries; and
  8. Letters.

For purposes of comparison, students may also examine some mock-autobiographical works (such as fiction, diaries or memoirs that purport to be based on “real-life”), and/or autobiographical film, theatre, music or performance art.  

Methods Of Instruction

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  1. Lecture/discussion
  2. Group work
  3. Peer editing
  4. Instructor feedback on students’ work
  5. Individual consultation
Means of Assessment
  1. A minimum of two formal academic essays, with a combined value of at least 40% of the course grade.
  2. A minimum of 80% of the course grade will be based on writing assignments (essays, essay-based exams, journals, paragraphs). A maximum of 20% of the course grade may be based on informal writing (quizzes, short answer tests); oral reports/presentations; participation/preparation grades; and/or other non writing-intensive assignments.
  3. A minimum of 15% of the course grade will be based on in-class writing (essay or exam).
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of any first-year English literature course, the successful student should be able to

  1. read receptively and reflectively, with sensitivity to the subtleties of language;
  2. recognize and understand literary devices;
  3. practice writing as a process involving pre-writing, drafting, revising and editing;
  4. write an essay of literary analysis that develops an interpretive thesis supported by appropriate and correctly cited evidence; and
  5. give and receive constructive criticism on written work.

Upon completion of English 1118, the successful student should also be able to understand

  1. key problems in the literature of life writing, including questions of the veracity or reliability of self-disclosure in confessional writing, of the role of the reader in influencing authorial choices, and of self-censorship;
  2. key issues regarding the roles of memory, language and historical/cultural context in the construction of identity; and
  3. the inherent difficulty in life writing of distinguishing among fact, fiction and non-fiction.
Textbook Materials

Sample reading list:

  • Moodie, Roughing It in the Bush
  • Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
  • Atwood, The Journals of Susanna Moodie
  • Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Coursepack, containing selections from the following:

  • Montaigne, Essays
  • Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys
  • Rousseau, The Confessions
  • McCarthy, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood
  • Brightman (ed.), The Collected Letters of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy



Any College entrance Language Proficiency Requirement with the exceptions of the Douglas College Course Options in ELLA or ENGU and the assessments listed below. These require the specified higher standard for entry into CMNS, CRWR and ENGL courses.
• a minimum grade of C- in ELLA 0460, or a minimum grade of C- in both ELLA 0465 and 0475, OR
• a minimum grade of C- in ENGU 0450 or ENGU 0455 or ENGU 0490, OR
• Mastery in ELLA 0330 and any two of ELLA 0310, 0320, or 0340, OR
• TOEFL overall score of 83 with a minimum of 21 in Writing, OR
• IELTS overall score of 6.5 with no band below 6.0; for individual bands below 6.0:
       • if in Speaking, ELLA 0210 required
       • if in Reading or Listening, ELLA 0220 required
       • if in Writing, ELLA 0230 and ELLA 0240 required
• CLB score of 8, OR
• CEFR level B2+, OR
• CAEL minimum overall and essay score of 70 (computer or paper based), OR
• recognized equivalent or exemption.


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for ENGL 1118
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO CRWR 152 (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU ENGL 1XX (3)
Emily Carr University of Art & Design (EC) EC ENGL 100 lev (3)
Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) FDU ENWR 1102 (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU ENGL 1200 (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG ENGL 1XXX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU ENGL 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU ENGL 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU ENGL 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO ENGL 1st (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV ENGL 1st (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ENGL 1XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV ENGL 263 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC ATWP 1XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU ENGL 125 (3) or VIU ENGL 135 (3)

Course Offerings

Fall 2022