Location: 345.106
Class: Tuesday and Thursday 1 pm – 2:30 pm
Office Hours: on Zoom, Tuesday and Thursday, 2:30-3:30 pm
(or by appointment)

“The truth about stories is that that’s all we are”
—Thomas King

This course introduces you to university level writing and research by exploring select books, essays, short stories, a documentary, and two films, and concerns a question of particular relevance to first-year students: what stories should guide how we design our lives? The major themes we will investigate in each text surround the importance of language and stories in our lives, which includes exploring how certain stories and myths can be dangerous. In this course students will develop a critical voice, analyze discourse, learn how to write a research paper and properly cite material, engage with pertinent social issues, such as the global environmental crises, feminism, systemic racism and Black Lives Matter, the coronavirus pandemic, and Indigenous issues in Canada, and learn how various rhetorical strategies, such as point of view, are essential to university writing. It is my hope that you will leave this course with a better understanding of academic culture and perhaps with answers to some of the pertinent questions about how you want to tell your own story, especially during these unprecedented times. Due to COVID-19, we will follow current health guidelines in the classroom, which might change as we collectively respond to new developments. I look forward to what should be an exciting semester with you! 

Required Texts:

  • Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves (Dancing Cat Books)
  • Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress (Anansi)
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists (Anchor)

Free Writing and Citation Guides:

Participation 5%
Surviving a Pandemic: Short Essay (600-750 words) 15%                       
Open-Book Essay on A Short History of Progress 20%
Research Essay
>>Annotated Bibliography and Intro 10%
>>Final Paper (1500-1700 words) 25%
Final Exam 25%

See VIULearn for the full course outline and a breakdown of assignments.


Please note that this schedule is subject to change as the term (especially with the shifting challenges of COVID-19) progresses.

Sept. 7           
Introduction; Course outline; Expectations; Departmental grading policies
Writing: Planning; Reading to form an interpretation

Sept. 9           
Viewing and Discussion: Black Mirror, “Nosedive”

Sept. 14          
Approaching an essay assignment; Begin discussion of short essay assignment due Sept 29; “Writing About Texts” (from Broadview Guide 47-52) 
Discuss: Jonathan Gottschall, “The Witchery of Story” (VIULearn)

Sept. 16           
Writing: Using appropriate and inclusive language (Broadview Guide 63-80); Summary versus synthesis
Discuss: Thomas King, “You’ll Never Believe What Happened” (see VIULearn); King Audio
Play Adichie on The Danger of a Single Story (8:30-14:10)

Sept. 21           
Writing: Evaluating sources; Constructing reasonable arguments; Thesis Statements (see Broadview Guide 32-33); Avoiding plagiarism (Broadview Guide 175-77); Integrating sources using MLA-style and APA documentation; Review Sample Papers

Sept. 23     
See the Library Module on VIULearn
Read sample student research papers on VIULearn

Sept. 28
Pandemic-Themed Reading (read Roy and choose two): Isaac Chotiner, “How Pandemics Change History”; Arundhati Roy: “The pandemic is a portal”; Robin D.G. Kelley, “On How Today’s Abolitionist Movement Can Fundamentally Change The Country”; Heather O Neill, “Art During the Time of Coronavirus”; Arthur C. Brooks, “A Once-in-a-Lifetime Chance to Start Over”; Sarah Zhang, “The Coronavirus Is Here Forever. This Is How We Live With It.”
Short Essay Due by 11:59 pm on VIULearn

Sept. 30           
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (VIU closed)

Oct. 5              
Writing: Paragraphing (see Broadview Guide 14-15)
Discuss: Ronald Wright Part I
Listening, Daft Punk, Harder, Better, Faster

Oct. 7              
Writing: Avoiding Fragments
Discuss: Ronald Wright Part II
Discuss Annotated Bibliography 

See the Documentary, Seed on Kanopy GMO Videos: Bill Nye on GMOs; GMO OMG trailer; short breakdown of risks and benefits

Oct. 12            
Writing: The Comma (Broadview Guide 132-135)
Discuss: Ronald Wright Part III 

Oct. 14          
Discuss: Ronald Wright Part IV
Brinkman, “Gilgamesh” 

Oct. 19           
Ronald Wright Part V
Start Surviving Progress

Oct. 21   
Finish and discuss Surviving Progress
Midterm Review
Stephen Hawking’s warnings: What he predicted for the future
Ronald Wright on his book, A Short History Revisited

Extra Readings for consideration:
A Code Red for Humanity” (Aug 13, 2021)
Humans Wiped Out Two-Thirds of the World’s Wildlife in 50 Years” (Sept 16, 2020)
Millions attend global climate strike” (Sept 20, 2019)
Paul Ehrlich: “Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades”” (March 22, 2018)
“‘Soon it will be too late’: Scientists issue dire ‘second notice’ to humanity” (Nov 13, 2017)
Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers” (Oct 18, 2017)
The Fate of the Earth” (Oct 12, 2017)
Record-smashing August means long-awaited ‘jump’ in global warming is here” (Sept 13, 2016)
Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse” (Sept 22, 2014)
Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?” (March 14, 2014)

Oct. 26            

Oct. 28            
Writing: Evaluating arguments (Logical Fallacies)
Discuss: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists—See TED Talk    
Lewis, “The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism
Article, Brains aren’t actually ‘male’ or ‘female’ and here; opposing view (see here).

Nov. 2            
Reading: Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves (1-55)
Please read “Introduction” (1-22) from Final Report of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (available on VIULearn)

Nov. 4
Hip Hop Forum (details TBA)

Nov. 9 & 11    Study Day [NO CLASS]

Nov. 16         
Discuss Research Essay (and checklist)  
Finish The Marrow Thieves (56-153)

Nov 18
Writing: Revising (Broadview Guide 14-15)
Finish The Marrow Thieves (154-230)

Home Viewing: Indian Horse (for next week)

Nov. 23           
Review apostrophe usage (Broadview Guide 139-140)
Discussion of Indian Horse and Calls to Action 
Reading: “Calls to Action” (319-338) from Final Report of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (available on VIULearn)

Nov. 25           
Workshop (Bibliography due at 11:59 pm) 

Nov. 30           
Discuss: Chiang, “Story of Your Life” (see VIULearn)

Dec. 2              
Class Viewing: Arrival (part one)

Dec. 7             
Class Viewing: Arrival (part two)

Dec. 9              
Exam Review
Final Essay Due (by 11:59 pm on VIULearn)