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Writing Memoir

Writing Memoir

Why does one Toronto professor leave money in random places throughout the streets of Athens? How does an everyday trip to an Eaton’s department store empower a Vancouver man to come to terms with the death of his best friend? What do the police want to question one young woman about when she wakes up outside a military dormitory on her nineteenth birthday? Why does a nattily dressed stranger on his bicycle suddenly shout out to no one in particular the word “Yes!”? CWRI 277/3.0 is a study of the memoir, one of the most popular creative non-fiction subgenres. Through a reading of representative works of Canadian memoir (drawn from Luanne Armstrong and Zoë Landale’s Slice Me Some Truth anthology) and an examination of one of the best known manuals on writing creative non-fiction and memoir (Lee Gutkind’s You Can’t Make This Stuff Up), students will learn memoirists’ techniques such as balancing objective and subjective truth, performing research and immersion, developing compelling scenes, composing effective “hooks,” generating believable dialogue, and more. We will study a diversity of Canadian memoirists, including Fiona Timwei Lam, Shelley A. Leedahl, Myrna Kostash, Wayne Grady, Evelyn Lau, Mark Kingwell, and others. As a final project, students will compose their own work of memoir for publication in a collected class anthology.

We will answer these and other questions when we study Susan Glickman’s “Found Money,” Stephen Osborne’s “The Man Who Stole Christmas,” Ayelet Tsabari’s “You and What Army,” and Jane Silcott’s “Natty Man”!


Assessment consists of: 


Online Discussion Forums

Class Participation

Final Writing Project completed in stages.


  • Level 2 or above

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.