Curriculum Guideline

Studies in the Literature of Life Writing

Effective Date:
Course Code
ENGL 1118
Studies in the Literature of Life Writing
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hours per week
Method Of Instruction
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
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.  

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.
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).
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
  • The minimum required score on the Douglas College English Assessment, written within the last four years, OR
  • a final grade of "B" or higher in English 12, Literature 12 or English 12 First Peoples, OR
  • proof of enrolment in a college-level writing or literature course, defined as a course that transfers to Douglas College as an English, Communications or Creative Writing course, OR
  • a grade of C- in EASL 0460, or a minimum grade of C- in both EASL 0465 and 0475, OR
  • a grade of C- or better in ENGU 0450 or ENGU 0455, OR
  • a Language Proficiency Index (LPI) score of 5 on both Essay Level and English Usage and a score of 10 on the Reading Comprehension section, OR
  • an IELTS score of 7 with a minimum score on all parts of 6.5 within the last two years, OR
  • a TOEFL (internet-based) overall score of 92 with a minimum of 22 in each of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing within the last two years
Which Prerequisite

In combination with another 1000-level English literature or writing course other than English 1124, or with any CRWR course, this course may serve as a pre-requisite for any 2300-level English course.