Assignment Objective and Overview
For your second major writing assignment, you will explore how communication is structured by the communities it takes place within. In "The Concept of Discourse Community," John
Swales proposes six defining characteristics of discourse communities:
A discourse community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals.
A discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members.
A discourse community uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback.
A discourse community utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims.
In addition to owning genres, a discourse community has acquired some specific lexis.
A discourse community has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise. (pp. 471-473)
You will explore these elements of discourse communities as they relate to the communication within a particular group. You will begin by observing the writing and communication practices of either a course in your major or an organization/business that aligns with your career aspirations. After observing this discourse community in action, you will interview both experienced and entry-level members of the community and collect artifacts that represent the kinds of writing they do. Your analysis of these observations, interviews, and artifacts will take the form of a 5-7 page paper in which you consider the extent to which this community does or does not qualify as a discourse community.
When selecting your community, consider the requirements and options listed below:
Locate a class in your potential major that interests you and fits your schedule. This can be done using GoldMine.
Contact the professor of the class, briefly explain your project, ask permission to attend 1-2 sessions of the class you have chosen, and set up an interview for after your planned observation dates. Observe members of the community during a shared activity (such as during class, in a study group, etc.); take detailed notes of how they interact (what are they doing? what kinds of things do they say? what do they write? how do you know who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’?).
Request an interview with at least one student enrolled in the class.
Record and/or take notes during interviews with the professor and student (you can base your interview questions on the “Guide to Discussion Section” at the end of these instructions).
Collect writing artifacts produced in the community. The professor and student can most likely help with this. Consider requesting in-class materials, anonymous student work, etc. during your interviews.
Here are a few examples of possible artifacts: o emails, tests, assignment instructions, discussion posts, Powerpoints or other visual presentations, written assignments/drafts, scholarly articles, CVs
Locate a business or organization related to your future career aspirations.
Contact an upper level supervisor of this business or organization, briefly explain your project, ask permission to observe people on the job for 1-3 hours, and set up an interview for after your planned observation dates.
Observe members of the community during a shared activity; take detailed notes of how they interact (what are they doing? what kinds of things do they say? what do they write? how do you know who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’?).
Request an interview with at least one entry-level employee in the organization.
Record and/or take notes during interviews with the supervisor and lower-level employee (you can base your interview questions on the “Guide to Discussion Section” at the end of these instructions). Collect writing artifacts produced in the community. The supervisor or employee can most likely help with this. Here are a few examples of possible…