Discourse Community Essay Questions


Phillips 3essay. Students decide what is best by considering what the teacher is looking for, past books and

articles they’ve read and by their own knowledge of how proper literature is written

. Whilework-shopping, students collaborate and share all their smart ideas and advice and inevitably

shape each other’s writing.

The English teacher also shapes the essay by grading second draftsand providing comments stating what the paper is lacking. Plagiarism is not tolerated and theteacher is the only one who can decide what the essay is generally about. A student must work  past these and other constraints in order to achieve his or her goal and pass the class.The Communications class uses blackboard to see the syllabus and to check for updated posts or messages from the teacher. Unlike the English class, the Communications teacher doesnot post any grades onto blackboard. Graded work and tests are given back to the students withthe numerical grade at the top written in red ink. The C

ommunications teacher’s name is Tara.

Tara was absent the first day of class and had another faculty member instruct the class. On thesecond day of class Tara was over an hour late. Unlike the English class, the Communicationsclass only meets two days a week. The teacher will sometimes ask the class questions regardingdifferent topics such as colloquialisms, types of slang, or connotative meanings of words. Whenthis happens one student typically tells a story of their past experiences after which another student might make a comment, leading to a group discussion. Tara often listens intently whilethe class converses. She has said she likes to remember different things the class talks about soshe may bring them up in future classes. Discussions range from talking about racial slurs to cell phone texting. The syllabus used in Communications class simply states what chapters to readeach week and when assignments are due. Once she neglected to bring a test to class the day the

class was meant to take it, she said she left the test in her other car. The syllabus wasn’t adjusted

until the next week. In preparation to a test, Tara will go over some vocabulary words in one or 

Comparing Two Discourse Communities

In this essay, you'll be using the skills developed writing the Discourse Analysis to compare and contrast essays written within two different discourse communities on the same subject. When comparing/contrasting (a common request in college writing) you want to be sure to point out both similarities and differences. It's not very interesting to read a paper which shows how two things are "exactly alike" (especially if they're not), and if the two things are completely different, your reader might wonder why you're writing about them together at all!

The key question you'll answer is "How does the intended audience (or discourse community) affect these two writers' approaches to this subject?"

You're answering the key question for a professor of a class on your group's topic. She is trying to decide which of these two readings is more appropriate for the class to read and has asked you to read and compare them. You can either offer a suggestion (if one essay is clearly more appropriate) or just stick to showing their similarities and differences clearly enough for her to be able to make an informed decision.

Your goals: Once again, you'll want to use detail to support your claims about the two essays. In this case, the details will be examples from the essays themselves. You'll also want to focus your essay on a particular claim about how the two essays are alike and/or different. (Be sure to account for the similarities and differences by referring to the authors' different target audiences.) Finally, you'll want to carefully consider your organization so that you are able to talk about the two essays together without confusing your reader.

Strategies for completing the essay include these:

  • First, select the two essays you'd like to use for this paper. Remember that the essays should have something in common (at the very least, the same subject!) but also some interesting differences (including significantly different target audiences).
  • Next, complete a discourse analysis worksheet on each essay. This doesn't have to be formal, but it will help you prewrite if you take some notes answering these questions.
  • Decide on a focus for your essay. What seem to be the most interesting elements these two essays share? What significant differences between them do you find? How might the target audiences explain these similarities and differences?
  • Write a draft in which you try to explain and account for the most important similarities and differences. Use as much detail as you can; remember to incorporate examples from the text. You may find it helpful to write an outline, either before or after writing a first draft, to help you clarify your essay's organization.
  • Share your draft with members of your group. Do they agree with your explanation of what the two essays have in common? Can they suggest other differences? Can they identify your focus and follow your organizational strategy?
  • Revise and rewrite based on your workshop group's responses. Don't forget to double-check the accuracy of quotations and, before your turn the essay in, proofread!


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