Memoir: Life in Story
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Fall 2017
Prerequisites: N/A
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): General Education
Program Coordinator(s): Sarah Sinclair
Course Leader or Contact: Sarah Sinclair
Version: 20170905_00
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: This is a web-based course taught fully online, using Sheridan's current LMS (Learning Management System). To take this course, students will need reliable access to the Internet. They should have a basic level of comfort using computers as well as self-discipline to work online. This course was previously named "Personal Journeys" and was renamed in the Winter 2017 term.

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Whatever we call the form--Life Writing, memoir, personal narrative, journal, or diary--telling stories about one's own life is a powerful human need. In this fully online course, students will examine different forms of life writing. Students consider essential elements of personal narrative to investigate how these elements contribute to and are shaped by the social and cultural context of the times. Students discuss traditional and emerging issues in life writing while exploring common themes in contemporary pieces. Through a variety of activities, including online discussions quizzes and written assignments, students read, analyze and compare different forms of personal narratives.

Program Context

General Education Program Coordinator(s): Sarah Sinclair
This course is part of the General Education curriculum which is designed to contribute to the development of the students' consciousness of the diversity, complexity, and richness of the human experience; their ability to establish meaning through this consciousness; and, as a result, their ability to contribute thoughtfully, creatively, and positively to the society in which they live and work. General Education courses strengthen students' generic skills, such as critical analysis, problem solving, and communication, in the context of an exploration of topics with broad-based personal and/or societal importance.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course, students will have demonstrated the ability to analyze different forms of life writing through a thoughtful and critical evaluation of literary traditions, social and cultural contexts, universal themes, and new forms of writing, commonly created and distributed on the Internet.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Analyze essential elements of life writing
  2. Compare different types of life writing
  3. Research the cultural and social context of selected memoirs
  4. Identify significant issues and trends relevant to contemporary life writing
  5. Relate the significance of learned concepts to specific textual examples
  6. Develop skills in interpreting, analyzing and constructing memoir
  7. Discuss controversies around truth and fiction in life writing
  8. Research the use of personal narrative in social media
  9. Combine reflective, personal response with close reading

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: ONLINE
 Critical Reflection Journals & Discussions (Journals x 4: 10%, 10%, 15%, 15%)50.0%
 Quizzes (2 x 10%)20.0%
 Personal Memoir & Analysis Assignment20.0%
 Social Media & Analysis Assignment10.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:
All assessments will be completed and submitted Online TEST AND ASSIGNMENT PROTOCOL To encourage behaviour that will help students to be successful in the workplace and to ensure that students receive credit for their individual work, the following rules apply to every course offered within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. 1. Students are responsible for staying abreast of test dates and times, as well as due dates and any special instructions for submitting assignments and projects as supplied to the class by the Professor. 2. Students must write all tests at the specified times. Missed tests, in-class activities, assignments and presentations are awarded a mark of zero. If an extension or make-up opportunity is approved by the professor as outlined below, the mark of zero may be revised by subsequent performance. The penalty for late submission of written assignments is a loss of 10% per day for up to five business days (excluding weekends and statutory holidays), after which, a grade of zero is assigned. Business days include any day that the college is open for business, whether the student has scheduled classes that day or not. 3. Students, who miss a test or in-class activity or assignment or fail to submit an assignment on time due to exceptional circumstances, are required to notify their professor in advance of the class whenever possible. A make-up test may be supplied for students who provide an acceptable explanation of their absence and/or acceptable documentation explaining their absence (e.g., a medical certificate). All make-up tests are to be written at a time and place specified by the professor upon the student's return. Alternately, students may be given an opportunity to earn the associated marks by having a subsequent test count for the additional marks. Similarly, exceptional circumstances may result in a modification of the due dates for assignments. 4. Unless otherwise specified, assignments and projects must be submitted at the beginning of class. 5. Students must complete every assignment as an individual effort unless, the professor specifies otherwise. 6. Since there may be instances of grade appeal or questions regarding the timely completion of assignments and/or extent of individual effort, etc., students are strongly advised to keep, and make available to their professor, if requested, a copy of all assignments and working notes until the course grade has been finalized. 7. There will be no re-submission of work unless this has been previously agreed to or suggested by the professor. 8. Students must submit all assignments in courses with practical lab and field components in order to pass the course.

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Essential Employability Skills
Essential Employability Skills emphasized in the course:

  • Communication Skills - Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken, visual form that fulfills the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.
  • Communication Skills - Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills - Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.
  • Information Management - Locate, select, organize and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.
  • Information Management Skills - Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.
  • Interpersonal Skills - Show respect for the diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.
  • Interpersonal Skills - Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.
  • Personal Skills - Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.
  • Personal Skills - Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

General Education
This General Education course relates to the following themes as specified by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

  • Arts In Society

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar
Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous relevant work/life experience, service, self-study and training on the job. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):

  • Challenge Exam
    Notes:  Registrar's Office
  • Other

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: Online
Professor: Multiple Professors
RequiredOtherCourse Package. Memoir: Life in Story (Pearson Publishing)
RequiredOtherFrey, James (2003). A Million Little Pieces. New York: Talese/Doubleday.
OptionalOtherBarrington, Judith. Writing the Memoir, 2nd ed. Portland: The Eighth Mountain Press, 2002.
OptionalOtherKarr, Mary. The Art of Memoir. New York: HarperCollins, 2015.

Applicable student group(s): Various student groups taking General Education Electives
Course Details:
Module 1: Traditions & Trends in Life Writing (Weeks 1-3)
(A) Overview: What is a Memoir?
- Introduction to Life Writing
- Definitions, genre characteristics
- Introduction to Gutkind’s “5 Rs”
Select readings may include: 
- “Writing Memoirs” – Course Pack
- Orwell: “Shooting an Elephant”
(B) Style in Memoir
- Purpose, authorial voice, and tone
- Concepts of time and tense
Select readings may include:
- Kincaid: “Girl”
- Danticat: “Women Like Us”
(C) Emerging Trends in Life Writing 
- Use of Social Media formats
- Online Memoirs and Communities
Select readings may include 
- posted materials in SLATE
Assessment(s): Quiz 1 (10%); Journal 1(10%); Social Media Analysis Assignment (10%)
Module 2: Constructing Truth in Life Writing (Weeks 4-6)
(A) Memoirs of Childhood 
- Adopting perspective and style
- Knowing the unknowable and the spectre of false memory
Select readings may include:
- Banks: “My Mother’s Memoirs, My Father’s Lies”
- Gates: “What’s in a Name?”
- Gregory: “Shame”
- Dillard: “So this was Adolescence”
(B) Telling the Truth 
- Accuracy and truth in memoirs
- Understanding “truth” (intent/understanding) vs. “Truth” (factual/verifiable data)
Select readings may include:
- Frey, James A Million Little Pieces (selected chapters)
- Posted materials on SLATE
Assessments(s):  Journal 2 (10%)
Module 3: Social and Cultural Context in Life Writing (Weeks 7-10)
(A) Racial and Ethnic Identities
Select readings may include:
- Staples: “Black Men in Public Spaces”
- Malcolm X: “A Homemade Education”
- Satrapi: “The Veil”
- Equiano: “Journey into Slavery”
- Hirsi Ali: “Excerpt from Infidel”
(B) Migration and Diaspora
Select readings may include:
- Engkent: “Why my Mother Can’t Speak English”
- Geddes: “Growing Up Native”
- Hopkins: “My People Will Never Believe Me Again”
- Lu: “From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle”
(C) Disabilities and Illness
Select readings may include:
- Didion: “‘After Life’ From the Year of Magical Thinking”
- Didion: “In Bed”
- Keller: “Everything has a Name”
- Keller: “Three Days to See”
- Mairs: “On Being a Cripple”
- Tempest Williams: “The Clan of One-Breasted Women”
(D) Gender and Sexuality
Select readings may include:
- Kingston: “No Name Woman”
- Pigott: “Chicken-Hips”
- Gunn Allen: “Where I Come From is Like This”
- Daniel: “Goodbye Husband, Hello Wife”
- Rodriguez: “Complexion”
- Sanders: “The Men We Carry in Our Minds”
- Stone: “From Fearless to Afraid at Bryant University”
Assessments(s): Journal 3 (10%); Quiz 2 (10%)
Module 4: Trauma and Recovery (Weeks 11-14)
(A) Writing Pain and Grief
Select readings may include:
- Excerpts from Romeo Dallaire’s Shake Hands with the Devil
- Posted materials on SLATE
(B) Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Select readings may include:
- Excerpts from Romeo Dallaire’s Shake Hands with the Devil
- Posted materials on SLATE
(C) Course Summary and Evaluation
Assessments(s): Journal 4 (15%); Personal Memoir and Analysis (20%)

Sheridan Policies

All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

Intellectual Property: Sheridan's Intellectual Property Policy generally applies such that students own their own work. Please be advised that students working with external research and/or industry collaborators may be asked to sign agreements that waive or modify their IP rights. Please refer to Sheridan's IP Policy and Procedure.

Respectful Behaviour: Sheridan is committed to provide a learning environment that supports academic achievement by respecting the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of every person engaged in the learning process. Behaviour which is inconsistent with this principle will not be tolerated. Details of Sheridan's policy on Harassment and Discrimination, Academic Integrity and other academic policies are available on the Sheridan policy website.

Accessible Learning: Accessible Learning coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information or to register, please see the Accessible Learning website (Statement added September 2016)

Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

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