Discourse Communities- African Americans in Poverty
Linguist John Swales defines discourse communities as “groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals.”
Your ENG 101 class peers, prospective students, and a general audience who is likely not familiar with the discourse community that you have selected to profile.
Goal of Assignment:
This project asks you examine writing through the lens of discourse community. What type(s) of discourse communities are you a part of, and what types of writing do these communities produce? We will discuss and apply ideas
from a series of course readings to detail the conventions of a specific discourse community and share these conventions with the class, so that we all come away from this project with a broader understanding of types of writing that take place in college.
Prompts for reflection and drafting:
Given our readings in the weeks across this project, how would you define discourse community?
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What communities (see the teaching material for examples of communities) do you belong to as part of these activities?
What clubs and organizations do you belong to?
Where are you from, and what is unique or different about your home town? How do you interact with fellow community members?
What kinds of communicative practices do you engage in when working in these different communities? What kinds of words, language, or jargon do you link to this community? (List examples)
In what ways do your experiences differ from others in the same communities or perhaps those who are outside the community looking in?
How does this community structure power? Is there a chain of command?
What conclusions can you draw from these similarities and/or differences in experiences with discourse communities?
Collect the answers to these questions and others you may think of. You might consider interviewing another member of the community to confirm your own observations and ideas about it (interviewing someone is not a requirement). Just be sure that you are a member of the discourse community you decide to write about
3-4 double-spaced pages or 750-900 words using MLA format
Although there are many ways to approach writing the essay, I ask that you follow this basic structure:
INTRODUCTION (1/2 page):
Provide key information about your discourse community, for example, who they are, what they do, etc. You want to give enough context about your discourse community so that your audience feels prepared to read your analysis, but not so much information that your analysis becomes repetitive. You should also explain why you chose this discourse community and what you hoped to gain from studying it.
BODY (2-3 pages):
The body of your essay is where you will discuss and explain your analysis. You need to discuss and provide examples for each of Swales’ characteristics. It’s often easier to discuss each characteristic separately; however, if you find it more productive to combine characteristics feel free to do so.
CONCLUSION (1/2 page):
In your conclusion, reflect on your findings and analysis. What did you learn about how your discourse community communicates verbally and in written form? What did you learn about the genres your discourse community rely on most for communication? How does this knowledge help you better understand what it’s like to be a member of this discourse community?
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