English (ENGL) 308

Indigenous Literature in Canada (Revision 3)

ENGL 308 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent first year English course(s).

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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ENGL 308 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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English 308: Indigenous Literature in Canada begins with the origins of Indigenous literature in the oral tradition and leads to contemporary Indigenous writing in English. The course also examines related areas such as findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), released in 2015. Assigned readings from the TRC will inform many of the topics and themes found in Indigenous literature.

English 308 is designed to provide you with the basis for a deeper understanding of the literature of Indigenous nations in Canada. The course is divided into eight units and progresses from orature and stories from the oral tradition through written poems, stories, and drama, to two novels.

Learning Outcomes

After completing English 308, students should be able to do the following:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with Indigenous literature in Canada, including its origins, diversity, and contemporary forms
  • Examine the cultural aesthetics surrounding the tradition of oral storytelling and its connection to contemporary Indigenous literature
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the legacy of the residential school system and its expression in literature
  • Analyze the values, politics, and concerns addressed in works of Indigenous literature
  • Assess the use of literary elements such as theme, symbolism, and poetic devices in the assigned works


  • Unit 1: Introduction to Indigenous Literature
  • Unit 2: Family Stories and the Oral Tradition—Earth Elder Stories
  • Unit 3: Myths, Legends, and Trickster Stories
  • Unit 4: The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway
  • Unit 5: Culture, History, and Politics in Modern and Contemporary Poetry
  • Unit 6: The Legacy of Residential Schools
  • Unit 7: The Contemporary Novel in Depth—Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach
  • Unit 8: The Contemporary Novel in Depth—Katherena Vermette’s The Break


To receive credit for ENGL 308, you must achieve an overall grade of at least D (50 percent) and at least D (50 percent) on the final exam. All assignments are required in order to pass the course. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Essay 1 10%
Essay 2 25%
Essay 3 25%
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Highway, Tomson. The Rez Sisters. Fifth House, 1988.

Moses, Daniel David, Terry Goldie, and Armand Garnet Ruffo, editors. An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English. 4th ed. Oxford UP, 2013.

Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach. Vintage, 2001.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2015. (Available through the ENGL 308 Digital Reading Room.)

Vermette, Katherena. The Break. House of Anansi P, 2016

Wolfe, Alexander. Earth Elder Stories. Fifth House, 1988.

Other Materials

All other course materials can be found online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ENGL 308 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least 50 percent on the examination, and a grade of at least D (50 percent) overall.

Activity Weighting
Research Essay 50%
Exam 50%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, Sept 28, 2018.

View previous syllabus