Writing Project: Discourse Community

We have defined the concept of a “discourse community” (DC) as a social group that communicates, in part, using written texts but also shares common goals, values, writing standards, specialized vocabulary, and specialized genres.  As we have learned, writing is a social act—an act of connecting with others for multiple purposes.

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to investigate and reflect upon how you and your writing is shaped by and shapes the various discourse communities (DC) with which you belong. 

Audience: Your audience will be your instructor and scholarly peers, and you can assume that they have only a casual knowledge of your discourse communities (DC).

Genre: A critical reflection essay is an academic genre that combines two types of thinking: reflective and critical. The goal of reflective thinking is to try to learn more about yourself and your world by considering your deeply-held assumptions – about knowledge, the way you perceive events and issues, and/or your beliefs, feelings, and experiences. When you think critically, you examine your thoughts, feelings, experiences through the ideas, concepts, and theories presented by others. The goal is to challenge your thinking about a subject, to provide yourself and your readers with new insights.

Prompt: After having constructed your map (check attached file for my map discourse’s communities) of various communities, you will write a 1000-1200 word essay that analyzes the Discourse of one of these secondary communities. Be sure to frame your analysis through the lens Gee and Swales has provided: that is, use their words/concepts to help analyze your lived experience. 

● How does your experience compare and contrast with what the scholars have to say? 

● Do you agree, disagree, want to extend or challenge any of the claims they have made? 

(If needed, please check attached files for Gee’s article and Swale’s article)

Also, student samples are provided in attachment (Sample 1 & Sample 2)

***Suggested Structure for your Analysis:

1. Summary/Analysis of Gee’s theory concerning Discourse (about 300-450 words)

2. A brief description of your chosen community (Based on My Discourse communities Map attached file) (about 150-200 words)

3. Your observations based on your analysis concerning the discourse community of your choice: see sections/questions listed above (about 500-750 words – you may focus on two or more of the four main bullet points listed below). Be sure to include definitions to any terms/concepts you use throughout your essay (i.e.–enculturation, gatekeepers/gates, identity kit, etc.)

4. Conclusion summarizing your main takeaways/insights. Think back to the purpose: how does your DC shape YOU and even your writing? (about 150 words)

More specifically, as you analyze your chosen secondary Discourse (not primary) Discourse, you may focus on any of the following:

  1. Identity/Identity Kit: 
    1. What is the identity (role) and/or identities that you have found yourself adopting to participate in this       discourse?
    2. How would you describe the Discourse’s identity kit (refer back to para. 6 of Gee’s article)?
  2. Insider/Outsider
    1. How do your behavior and language change when entering and exiting this Discourse community? 
    2. What does it mean to speak/write/communicate as an insider to this Discourse? How does this       way of communicating contrast to the way outsiders to this Discourse communicate? 
    3. Who/What are the gatekeepers of this Discourse? How would an outsider become aware of these gatekeepers?
  3. Apprentice/Expert/enculturation
    1. What are the informal/formal processes by which someone becomes “enculturated” into this Discourse?
    2. As people transition from apprentice to experts of this Discourse, what are some examples of       mushfaking in which someone might engage?
    3. If Gee is correct in defining literacy as “the mastery of a secondary Discourse,” what would it mean       for an apprentice to become truly literate of your chosen Discourse?
  4. Primary/Secondary discourse
    1. What are some of the major differences between your chosen secondary Discourse and your primary Discourse? In what ways do they overlap?
    2. How has membership in this secondary Discourse positively/negatively affected your affiliation to       other Discourses?
    3. Reflect back on the earliest memory you have about entering the secondary Discourse. What was this transition like? What were some of the unwritten social/communicative rules that you       encountered?
    4. Would you consider yourself now fully “literate” in this Discourse? (you might want to reflect back on       Gee’s definition of Literacy) 
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