HW 1 – Melzer (Jan. 31st)

Name _________________


Homework 1 : “Understanding Discourse Communities” by Dan Melzer

Read “Understanding Discourse Communities” by Dan Melzer. Write a response to the following questions. Make sure to thoughtfully respond to the questions. Do not just write a few words in response, write a meaningful answer that is based in the text. What does that mean? It means, use evidence and examples from the text to support your thinking. Add quotes or specific examples. Be prepared to discuss the reading in class. 

  1. What did you think of the piece? Be honest! Really! I want to know! Was it hard to understand? Interesting? Boring?
  2. According to John Swale (and Dan Melzer) what are the 6 characteristics that ALL discourse communities have? 
  3. What were the shared goals of Melzer’s guitar jam group? Explain! Provide an example! Now imagine that CityTech is an example of a discourse community. What are the shared goals of CityTech?
  4. What does Melzer mean by a mechanism for intercommunication? What example does Melzer provide? Explain! What is a mechanism for intercommunication that you use at CityTech?
  5. How does Melzer explain the idea of discourse communities having genres that further the goals of a discourse community? What genres did Melzer’s guitar jam group use to further their goals? What is an example of a genre that furthers the goals of CityTech?
  6. What does it mean for a discourse community to have a specific lexis (or way of speaking)? What is an example of the specific lexis (language) that Melzer’s guitar jam group used? Explain! Provide an example! What is an example of a specific lexis used by CityTech?
  7. How do the beginners and experts in Melzer’s guitar jam group work together? Explain! Who are the beginners and experts at CityTech?
  8. Other than CityTech, can you think of another  Discourse Community you might belong to?


  1. Isabella

    1) The piece was very interesting and cool to read about, I liked how there are many different forms of groups and diverse communities that can be counted as discourse communities. 

    2) A discourse community is made up of people who share a common goal, methods of communication among group members, feedback and information sharing that the community can comprehend, one or more genres that can help the community expand its goals, a language that the community can understand, and experts who are part of the community. 

    3) Meltzer’s guitar jam group’s mutual goals were to study music and have fun. An example of the vocabulary (language) used by Meltzer’s guitar jam group is Our guitar meetings would have seemed like a foreign language to someone who didn’t play music. A shared goal of city tech would be creating clubs’ people would enjoy and want to participate in. 

    4) Melter means to stay in touch even when they weren’t together and to exchange details about when and where they were playing. The example he uses is “But a Meetup.com group like the Sacramento acoustic guitar jam focused on a specific topic with shared goals and a community of members who frequently interact can be considered a discourse community based on Swales’ definition.” – (Melzer) A mechanism of intercommunication I use at city tech is blackboard to have conversations with my professors and classmates.

    5) Melzer discusses the idea that discourse communities have genres that support their objectives by emphasizing the value of the genre’s visual and social action elements. An example of a genre that furthers the goals at City Tech would be poetry, I think poetry because you can use it in many different ways. You can use poetry as song lyrics for your songwriting, use it for journaling, and can use it for writing letters.

    6) When a discourse community adopts a specific lexis, it indicates that members of the group communicate using these specialized terms in a way that supports group collaboration. 

    7) By letting members bring songs to perform that they have purchased with lyrics and chords, the group’s rookies and professionals collaborate. a picture of the chords, taught knowledge and taught words, let people mimic one another’s actions, and offered helpful advice. The beginners at City Tech would be the incoming freshmen, and the experts would be the people who are/going to graduate.

    8) I think a discourse community I belong to would be a reading club or an area for reading books and sharing my ideas, arguments, and responses with people who feel the same way. 

  2. Kiara

    1. This was a decent read. I lost focus after Melzer started connecting his experience with guitar and what a discourse community is and found myself rereading the same lines because his connections weren’t really processing to me. I believe if he started his story about learning guitar with the connections, it would’ve been a more interesting experience for me. Overall it was a very informative piece and I think Melzer’s example was very fitting.
    2. According to Swales and Melzer, a discourse community involves the following 6 characteristics: A group that shares a common goal, uses a specific method of communication, uses that method to exchange information and feedback, one or more ways of sharing ideas or information, a specialized language that is unique which is labeled as lexis, and lastly a good number of experts who can guide the group with their knowledge. 
    3. Melzer’s jam group shared a common goal to have fun, enjoy the music, and learn new songs. Similarly, if we thought of City Tech as a discourse group, we share a common goal of learning. That includes professors, students, and faculty. Students obviously learn from their professors, professors adjust their styles of teaching by learning how their students process information best and what topics are easier/more difficult for them, and the overall faculty learns about what the new generations are interested in or are in need of and adjust the schools’ environment or way of going about certain things to create a better place for their students. 
    4. Melzer explained mechanisms of intercommunication to be a specific way that the group uses that is only for the ones who share the same goals. He made it clear that the people who use Meetup.com would not be considered as a part of a discourse community because everyone may have different goals when using the site. A method of intercommunication that I use at City Tech is Open Lab, my discourse community would be Professor Coleman’s ENG1121 course on Open Lab.
    5. The two genres of communication that Melzer’s jam group used were the site Meetup.com and the handouts of the song chords with lyrics. He explains the different purposes of each genre and also uses an example of the music genre rap. He shares rap’s purpose of communication and its unique style and goals. I think CUNY First is a genre of communication that City Tech uses, the site shares specific information for students that can help us with whatever goals we have while using it. 
    6. A discourse having a specific lexis includes unique vocabulary that can help the discourse better understand certain ideas. Melzer’s jame group for instance labeled different chords and used words such as major and minor scales to help members understand the music they played. City Tech has its lexis that helps students in different ways. There’s a department called the S.T.A.R. Center which stands for Scheduling Testing Advisement Registration. This lexis helps students know what information that specific department may hold.
    7. Melzer shared that the experts served as a great example for his journey in learning guitar. He says that watching them helped with his solos and they were very helpful with giving advice. City Tech experts (professors) help beginners (students) with grasping the topics and units that are required for beginners to learn. 
    8. Another discourse community I think I may be involved with may be the K-pop community or any sort of music lovers-involved group of people. I love so many different genres, from Bad Bunny to Bon Jovi to Blackpink (lots of B’s wow lol). With that being said, if there’s a group of people out there that has a generalized passion for loving music as a whole, I think I would be part of it. Otherwise, being a K-Pop stan may be a more specific discourse group I could be a part of.
  3. Jade

    1. I think it was decent reading. I personally wouldn’t read it on my own, but it was full of information, and I learned a lot from it.

    2. The six characteristics that all discourse communities have agreed upon are a set of common public goals, a mechanism of intercommunication, the use of communication mechanisms to give feedback and information, having one or more genres to push their goals, a specialized language, and a threshold level of expert members.

    3. The shared goals of Melzer’s guitar jam group were to have fun, enjoy the music, and learn new songs. One example is on page 6 in the last paragraph, where they played all types of genres, especially simple songs for beginners to enjoy, and brought out music sheets for everyone to understand and get a visual of the music chords. The shared goals of CityTech are students who came for a higher education or teachers who want to provide students with knowledge.

    4.  What Melzer means by a mechanism for intercommunication is a place where you can communicate with other members of the community. An example Melzer provides is their use of the meetup.com site. They used that site to communicate where and when the meeting was. A mechanism for intercommunication that I use at Citytech is the blackboard discussion post forum.

    5.  Melzer explains the idea of discourse communities having genres that further the goals of a discourse community by using music as an example, like how different genres of music come from social purposes. One example is rap; it’s mostly used to speak about social purposes such as resisting social oppression and telling the truth about social conditions that the news wouldn’t speak about. Melzer’s guitar jam group’s genres were the formation of the group, recruiting new members, delivering information to members about where and when the community is meeting, and music sheets with chords and lyrics. An example of a genre that furthers the goals of Citytech is going to the same class or passing classes.

    6. What it means for a discourse community to have a specific lexis is a special language that everyone in the community speaks to understand each other. An example of the specific lexis is that Melzer’s guitar jam group used terms like major and minor notes, chord progressions, or beats per measure to get the members to play together effectively. I’m not sure what’s a good example of a specific Lexis used by Citytech.

    7.  The beginners and experts in Melzer’s guitar jam group worked together, with the experts handing out the music sheets, which helped the beginners participate with everyone else. The music sheets gave a visual for beginners, which can help beginners who don’t understand the basics. I think the beginners are the students, and the experts are the alumni at City Tech.

    8. I don’t think I belong to another discourse community. I don’t really participate in groups. I just do my own thing.

  4. Giovanna Guachichulca

    Question 1.) The piece was interesting and fun to read about because I learned a lot about discourse communities and different examples that can be considered as discourse communities.

    Question  2.) The sixth characteristic that all discourse communication has is having people who share common goals. Methods of communication in the community. Giving feedback and information that the community can use, Having one or more genres that can help the community expand their goals. Lastly, having a language that only the community can understand and people who are experts are outside of the community. 

    Question 3.) Some of Melter’s guitar jam groups’ mutual goals were to learn more about the guitar and how to play and to have fun. Some of the shared goals of city tech are to further education and to graduate. 

    Question 4.) Melzers means to keep communicating even when they’re not altogether practicing. The example he provides is “a meetup.com group like the Sacramento acoustic guitar jam that focuses on a specific topic shared in a community of members who frequently interact can be considered a discord community based on Swales definition”.  What I think are some mechanisms for communication that I use at City Tech would be Blackboard or Gmail. 

    Question 5.) One of the two primary genres that the guitar jam group used was the Meetup site. The second genres were the handouts with song chords and lyrics. One example of a genre that city tech uses is the posters on the walls that encourage students to join several events. 

    Question 6.)  When a discourse community has a specific lexis it means to have a special language that only the members of that community can understand. An example that Melzer used was “1/4/5 chord progression, putting a capo on different frets, whether to play solos in a major or minor scale, double drop D tuning, and so on”. 

    Question 7.) The experts in the Melzer guitar jam group help beginners with answering any questions they have and helping them with anything else they might need clarification on. The beginners in city tech will be the freshmen and the experts will be people who haven’t graduated yet and the professors. 

    Question 8.) Another discourse community I belong to would be the Bad Bunny community. Which I am because I’m in the WhatsApp group chat that he made. 

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