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Analysis of a Discourse Community Assignment

For this paper you will be conducting an ethnographic study of a discourse community. “Ethnography” is a form of research most often used in the field of anthropology. Ethnography entails using close observation and/or interviews. Thus, for this assignment you will be observing and interviewing, or both. In addition, your essay will be framed around either Swales’ or Gee’s theory of a discourse community.

You must write about how a communityis a discourse community or Discourse according to the theoretical framework of either Swales or Gee. Your thesis should clearly state whose model your community fits. Note: Due to the exclusive nature of sports teams and their playbooks, and the private inner workings of fraternities and sororities, these communities are not a good fit for this analysis assignment.

Overall, the paper will include these components: 1.) description of the Discourse or discourse community and 2.) analysis of the Discourse or discourse community. In the description, you should give an informative report on the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of your chosen Discourse/discourse community. You should use descriptions and specific details throughout your essay. You will want to vividly convey and describe the group you are analyzing. You should analyze closely, but also as objectively as possible.

In the introductory paragraph, you should answer the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questionsabout your chosen Discourse (if using Gee’s model) or discourse community (if using Swales’ model.) The introduction will also include the name of the theorist and the title of his article. Your thesis statement—the “I” statement that your Discourse or discourse community fits this theorist’s model—should also appear in the introduction.

As mentioned, in the body of paper you should analyze how this group demonstrates the theory ofeither Swales or Gee. You will incorporate at least five of Swales’ or Gee’s characteristics and also quotes from a person who belongs to the discourse community you are analyzing. The questions you use to interview that person should serve to aid you in your analysis.

For example, if you are using Swales’ theory as your framework, you should craft interview questions pertaining to Swales’ characteristics of a discourse community. If using Gee’s theory as your model, your questions should relate to the characteristics Gee identifies as being necessary for a group to qualify as a Discourse. In either case, you will ask a total of six to eight questions and incorporate at least five responses into your paper. Block quotes (4 or more lines) of interview material may not appear in the paper. Your interviewee’s responses should be interwoven with your own analysis.

Lastly, in your conclusion you should also answer and elaborate on at least four of these “big picture” questions: Why is this discourse community important to members? How does this discourse community function? Is this function healthy for its members and the society in which it operates? What is the future of this discourse community? Will it be affected by any foreseen changes or challenges? In this last paragraph, you will also return to the thesis in a meaningful way.

Audience: Classmates who are unfamiliar with your theorist’s research and your chosen community.
Word Count: 1,000 – 1,500 words. Up to 500 words of the interview transcript count toward this overall word count.

Format: MLA format, Times New Roman or Garamond, 12 point font. All parts of the interview(s) cited in the text of the paper should be accompanied by a transcript of the interview at the end on a separate page. The interview should be around 300-500 words (see NFG or Purdue OWLfor the proper format for interview transcripts). Afterthe transcript, you should also include a Works Cited page citing Swales or Gee, as well as your interviewee.

Significance: What’s the importance of this assignment? Theories are not a new concept in college. In this paper you will practice applying a complex theory to an applicable situation. In other classes of your college career you may also be asked to read theory and be able to apply it to real-life scenarios, so this will serve as practice. Additionally, this assignment will give you the opportunity to conduct primary research, one of many forms of research you will perform as an undergrad. You will also continue to build the descriptive skills you practiced while writing your Narrative of Place.



Last Updated on March 10, 2020

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