Final Discourse Community Paper

English 1121

Paper #1: Portrait of a Discourse Community


Proposal/Conceptual Outline:

First Draft:

Final Draft:


Assignment Overview and Requirements:

Your first paper asks that you define and analyze a discourse community that either you’re a part of or that you have seen represented in the stories we have read. As we’ve read and discussed in class, a discourse community is a collection of people or groups that work towards a common goal through communication. This group develops a process for communication, a unique vocabulary of jargon, and a power structure tied to the source of their community. John Swales maintains that genres both “belong” to discourse communities and help to define them (Borg, 2003).  He outlined six characteristics of discourse communities: 1) common public goals; 2) methods of communicating among members; 3) participatory communication methods; 4) genres that define the group; 5) a lexis; and 6) a standard of knowledge needed for membership (Swales, 471-473).


Examples of groups can be employees at the same company, clubs at City Tech, Skateboarders, super fans, engineers, doctors, hospital patients, residents of a neighborhood, etc.


Identify a discourse community that you’re either a part of or that interests you.  Compose an insightful analysis of a discourse community using the material you have gathered from your research. Remember you’re describing a DC you’re a part of for an audience that knows nothing about them. What does the audience need to know?


I think it is useful to break the assignment into its chief components


  1. A descriptive look at your understanding of how the group functions as a discourse community, i.e. what are its “common public goals” and “mechanisms of intercommunication”?
  2. Plan, prepare for, and conduct an interview with a member/elder/expert from your community and write a report of the key takeaways and insights from the interview.
  3. An analysis of a single text or artifact of that discourse community, like an article or painting or film. (The key here is to think about how the DC uses its specific lexicon and “mechanisms of intercommunication” to meet its “common public goals” regarding a particular topic.)
  4. Ultimately, you will put steps 1-3 together into a descriptive report of your discourse community and one prominent genre within it. This should be 1,200-2,000 words and be accompanied by a 1-2-page reflection.


Part 2: Reflection

After you have completed the first draft, you will bring in three copies of your essay – one for me and two for two of your peers. You will share these essays with your group, and, after reading each other’s essays, provide thoughtful, critical feedback. While you should provide suggestions for improvement, you should also consider this an opportunity to take cues from your peers and build a sense of community and solidarity. Note what you think works and what you think could use some work. After gathering notes, write a letter to each of your group members responding to their paper with your comments and suggestions. You will attach a copy of letter to your final draft.

In addition to the letter you will write a reflection (500 words), also to be attached to the final draft. In this, you will explain:

  1. Why you chose to write the way you wrote
  2. What insights you’ve gained from the readings, the journals, and your peers
  3. What you think worked and what you might improve on


Guidelines and Paper Format

The paper follows MLA format and documentation-style sheet, with in-text citations and a works cited page.  There are different ways to think about approaching your paper.


If you choose prompt two, remember to write your paper as if your reader is not familiar with the story, but do not overly just summarize the plot. Although you will use some summary in your analysis, present your own interpretation using textual evidence for support. Present your interpretation and try to convince your reader why your particular reading reveals the discourse community in the story, one that you believe is significant. Quote briefly, but quotes should make up no more than about 15% of your paper.


I hope you enjoy writing this paper.  Don’t plagiarize (this can lead to an “F”): write your own essay.  Your ideas are good!   Give them a chance to develop.  Title your paper!



Paper Length and Format: 4-5 pages, double-spaced, typed, one-inch margins, no larger than 12 point font, New Times Roman or Garamond. Minimum of 1200 Words



Guidelines for Documenting Sources


You are not required to use outside sources for this assignment, but if you do, you must use MLA (Modern Language Association) documentation.  Refer to a reference style handbook such as Diana Hacker’s A Pocket Style Manual.  Also, the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue and The University of North Carolina offer especially good websites for documentation as well as writing papers in general.



Works Cited Page


Complete bibliographic information (author, title(s), publication information, should be listed on a separate “work (or works) cited” sheet.  This must be organized in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.  This appears after the conclusion of your essay.  For example:


Work Cited


O’Brien, Tim  “The Things They Carried” The Literary Experience

Bruce Beiderwell, Jeffrey M. Wheeler, .2nd ed. 

Boston: Cenage, 2016. Print. pp. 1277-1291

Criteria Excellent








·      Development of Ideas         40%

  • Does the author respond fully to the prompt?
  • Does the author analyze a single text or artifact of that discourse community?

·      Are supporting points fully explained and supported with evidence and reasoning?


Organization                          40% 

  • Does the author include a clear beginning that pulls readers into the essay?

·      Are paragraphs organized in support of a single idea?

·      Is there a clear connection between each paragraph?

·      Is there a logical pattern of development in support of the main idea?


Mechanics and Usage             20%

·      Does the essay use a variety of sentence lengths and structures to create sentence fluency?

·      Does the essay use effective diction?

·      Does the essay avoid errors in grammar and syntax (particularly those we have covered in class)?

·      Is the essay formatted in MLA document style?




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