Discourse Community Issues
Changes in professions or fields, or changes in broader cultures in which professions exist can affect a professional discourse community – and change how professionals do or should communicate. How professionals in a given discourse community handle communication issues – conflicts, misunderstandings, or lack of communication options, for example – within a discourse community can shed light on how that discourse community communicates, and what it values, as well as how a profession or field is situated in wider cultural and global contexts. For this paper, you will research and analyze a current communication issue in your future profession or field. You will then argue for the issue’s importance to the profession (or some major element of it), presenting information about the issue and its context to an audience unfamiliar with your profession so that the audience can understand more about your profession or field.
Task and Content
Write an essay that makes a persuasive argument identifying an important communication issue in your professional field and why it is important to the profession (or some major element of it).
- First, you will need to identify and describe the shared goals (“common public goals” per Swales) and underlying values of your professional discourse community and how they are articulated.
- Then, through your research on the problem, you will discover that the shared goals and values of discourse communities are sometimes articulated directly and sometimes tacitly. This project will help you uncover these goals and values through careful analysis of a communication issue in your professional field.
- Finally, you must present information about the issue and its context so that an audience unfamiliar with your profession can understand enough about your profession or field to see why this is an important issue.
Learning Objectives (you should be able to…)
- conduct field-specific research to identify relevant sources about communication issues and practices
- conduct careful rhetorical analysis of webtexts (Webtexts are texts in electronic media written by professionals for professionals in your professional discourse community (i.e, blogs, web sites, etc).
- analyze and develop insight about your field’s communication dynamics
- apply the concept of ‘discourse community’ (Swales) to your professional community
- argue persuasively about the shared goals and underlying values of your professional community (what, how, where, why)
- use appropriate terms of rhetorical analysis
- produce persuasive analysis of a communication issue in your profession
- frame your analysis for an unfamiliar audience
This assignment requires the following:
- Find three professional community webtexts on a communication issue in your profession. Webtexts are texts in electronic media written by professionals for professionals in your professional discourse community (i.e, blogs, web sites, etc).
- Find three texts about your profession which either discusses your exact communication issue or a similar problem in your profession through Gutman Library. (i.e: secondary sources)
- Analyze the texts to determine how they define the discourse community, considering the following questions: How does each text contribute to a definition of the discourse community per Swales’ 6 categories — shared goals, mechanisms of intercommunication, use of participatory mechanisms, use of specific genres, specific lexis, threshold level of members? How does the writer’s approach to audience, purpose, context, and genre help to communicate the message? What do audience, purpose, context, and genre say or suggest about the discourse community’s shared goals and values?
- Identify and fully describe the communication issue as it relates to your profession or field.
- Explain why this issue is important for your field or profession (how it affects your field or profession). This will inform your thesis and so should be a major theme of the paper.
- Analyze why this is an issue right now: What is unresolved? What is left to be decided? What is unknown? What has changed, if anything? Is this an issue that is limited to the profession or field, do you think, or is it part of a larger cultural issue?
- A discussion & analysis who is involved (who is directly and indirectly affected by this issue), and whose concerns are more important or relevant (if any) and why.
- Create an example of a dilemma in which a professional in your field might find themselves regarding this issue, and at least two possible ways in which this individual might act to resolve the dilemma.
Purpose and Audience
The purpose of your essay is to convince your audience – your peers in the class including those who are NOT in your major and someone you imagine who might have a stake in the profession – about the importance of your communication issue to your field.
- 6-10 pages, double-spaced, standard font
- a thesis statement, body paragraphs that elaborate on the thesis, and a conclusion
- MLA essay format, including a works cited page
- at least 3 non-encyclopedia sources, including at least one class source
- at least 4 webtexts from your profession
MLA – 6 References