Discourse Community Analysis Paper: Gym and University Students

| March 15, 2014

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Discourse Community topic: gym and university students
Purpose: Drawing from Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger?s definition of ?communities of practice,? Ann M. Johns describes academic discourse communities as ?complex collections of individuals who share genres, language, values, concepts, and ?ways of being,? often distinct from those held by other communities? (500). During your time in the university, you will move through and be expected to write for many of these disciplinary communities and discursive contexts, each of which will have a specific set of genres and language practices through which members of the disciplines communicate.
Your purpose in this paper is to use the theoretical backdrop for discussing discourse communities that we established in the first unit of the course to explore the language practices and rhetorical genres of a discourse community of your choice. As the primary focus of the unit will be on academic discourse communities, focusing on a discipline on campus is highly recommended. If you wish to focus on a non-academic discourse community, you may do so (pending instructor approval).
You should synthesize primary and secondary sources to compose a well-researched analysis of a disciplinary community here at OU. Your paper will employ field research methods such as observation, interview, and architectural and geographical analysis, as well as traditional library and web-based research methods to present a well-informed and analytical argument about your disciplinary community.
As you are researching your chosen disciplinary community, you should investigate the discourse practices, forms, and genres which are specific to the discipline as well as the identities, social languages, and conversations which are typical of the discipline more generally. How does the community as a whole use language in a distinct and unique manner? What values and ideologies might underpin the specialized vocabularies, symbol systems, vernaculars, codes, and citation styles that are typical of the discipline and which community members use to communicate with one another? What physical or intellectual markers distinguish members of this disciplinary community from others? Are there specific technologies, dress codes, tools, and interactions unique to or required by the community for participation? What role does identity play in this community?
Your paper should be driven by a clear, analytical thesis which is well supported using a minimum of 5 primary and secondary sources. You should not deliver a report of your research in which you simply describe your research process and your journey through disciplinary campus resources; instead, you should make an argument which synthesizes your research in thoughtful and analytical ways.
Audience: You should consider an audience who is well-informed but who does not know the articles/sources you incorporate. As you write, you should remember this audience and consider what this person will need to know about the articles, terms, and campus spaces to understand your argument and be sure to explain them as needed.
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