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ENGL 100 Glanting: Discourse Community Research Paper

Discourse Community Research Paper, Essay 4: ethnography


  • 7-9 pages, 12-point Times New Roman font with 1” margins, double-spaced 
  • Rough due for peer review 12/10 & Final Due 12/15 on Canvas @ 5 p.m.

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”  -Zora Neale Hurston 

We began this class by exploring their goals and values examining the inner workings of argumentation; we then moved to examine what constitutes academia and most recently we examined arguments with which we disagree.  Learning should be an ever-evolving process. As our class comes to an end, my hope is that you remain curious about the world around you. 

The final essay will entail doing some research, both firsthand and second-hand. Specifically, you will be researching a discourse community and writing an ethnography, based on our in-class discussions and James Paul Gee’s essay “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics.” Put another way, a group of people, unified by job, hobby, religion, etc. You will examine this group and what they value, what their goals are and how they manifest and propagate. 

 Your Task: 

 Part I: Please Begin with a mushroom model. It doesn't need to be artistic or even comprehensive. It just gives an overview of how discourse criteria 1 and 2 (Behavior and ID kit) links with criteria 3 (Values and goals)  

Part II: Research Paper 

The final requirement for 100 students is to conduct research and write a research paper. The most thorough and in-depth research will come from examining a group you have some access to or a group about which you have some interest—maybe a job, sports team, a place of faith, etc. that interests you or that you are even a part of. This could be, In other words, a group you currently know quite a bit about or perhaps a group that has always interested you but one for which you are not connected.  

For this research paper, you will examine a discourse. Remember our discussions on discourses and what constitutes a discourse. This category can include school-based activities, sports, work, hobbies, religious organizations, etc. 

Your thesis should make an assertion based on what you perceive to be the community’s goals/values. Your paragraphs should take us through your observations and also your research (we will also discuss these ideas). Most importantly, you must further analyze these observations and explain what these observations mean. For example, if you are studying a discourse community of musicians or basketball players you will want to examine the things the members of these groups do to identify themselves as members of these communities and how these actions, identity kits, vocabularies, etc. manifest the deeply-rooted goals. 

In choosing a community I require two criteria in a topic: 

  • The group should actually qualify as a discourse community (The group should have a unifying set of goals/values, etc). You will propose the group to me on Thursday, 11/25, so I can help nudge you along in the right direction. 

  • You should have enough access to them to observe daily operations firsthand. In other words, examining the Golden State Warriors would be great but gaining access to them will be difficult. Instead, you might opt to examine the discourse that summates their fan base. 

  • Additionally, you should be able to find secondhand research from our academic databases on the group. For the Warriors fans example, you will not likely find academic research on the warriors but there is definitely research on sports fandom that you can apply to your research.  

Research: This is a formal academic research paper. In addition to your first-hand research of the discourse community, you must conduct research using our databases. You are required to support your claims with at least seven second-hand sources beyond the reading in the classroom. These additional sources will probably be academic articles from journals. These should be respectable—preferably academic—sources. Recall our in-class discussion on what constitutes a respectable source. 

Citation:  At the end of your essay you must include a works cited page. This does not count towards page length. Your essay must cite your sources with proper MLA citations. This is all available on the Purdue Owl and we’ll also go over it in class.