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Discourse Community Project
The Discourse Community Project connects to the UWP1 learning outcome of using research to evaluate, analyze, and
synthesize prior knowledge on a subject and create new knowledge through primary research. The purpose of this project
is to conduct primary and secondary research about a discourse community that you are a member of, that you want to
join, or that you want to learn more about. You’ll present the results of this research in the form of a scholarly research
article. In class we’ll talk more about the definition of a discourse community, but in summary, a discourse community is
a group of people who share the same goals, interests, genres, and ways of communicating. For example, a group of
people that share a common hobby and who communicates through a social media tool like Facebook or Reddit, scholars
or students in an academic field like biology or sociology, a group of workers who all work in the same office or for the
same company, etc. For this project you can be a participant observer and participate in the discourse community while
you study it, or you can just observe without participating. You’ll conduct primary research by interviewing a discourse
community member or members and by rhetorically analyzing the genres of the discourse community to talk about their
purposes, audiences, conventions, etc. You’ll also integrate secondary research–research others have conducted. You’ll
include the Discourse Community Project in your final electronic portfolio. You’ll also give a brief presentation on your
Discourse Community Project for the final exam. You’ll give a three-minute presentation that provides an overview of
your analysis of the discourse community using a visual aid (a poster, a PowerPoint, a Prezi, etc.) and answer questions
from the audience.
Scholarly research articles are a common genre in academic writing in every field, whether it’s a sociologist reporting
about a survey she’s conducted or a psychologist describing a patient in a case study or a business report that uses
economic data or a scientist describing the significance of the results of an experiment. We’ll read examples of student
and professional scholarly research discourse community analysis articles, and additional examples are available on the
class SmartSite. Scholarly research is most often published in print mode (articles in scholarly journals and books
published by scholarly presses), but scholarly research is also presented in digital form (in documentary videos or
websites in online journals). The tone and style of a scholarly article tends to be formal and serious, with the use of
academic language and jargon appropriate for the subject and discipline. Readers expect scholarly articles to engage in
conversation with the research that’s been done on the topic, and this means citing and integrating peer reviewed
academic sources from scholarly journals and books. Citing only a few related research studies is never enough to show
that you’ve deeply engaged with your topic as a scholar. Although most research articles cite dozens of sources, since this
is a small research project, you should cite at least 4-6 sources. You are welcome to cite any of the scholarly articles
we’ve read for class.
Audience and Circulation
The primary audience for your Discourse Community Project is the academic discourse community of UWP1 students
and teachers. You’ll have at least one reader from an academic background (myself) since this research project will be
included in the final portfolio. You’ll also have the option of circulating your Discourse Community Project to a wider
academic audience. You can submit it for consideration for the new University Writing Program first-year composition
student writing journal, Readings about Writing. You can submit it to the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference
at http://urc.ucdavis.edu/conference/index.html. You can submit it to the journal Young Scholars in Writing, which has a
special section just for first-year writing. The URL for Young Scholars in Writing is
http://cas.umkc.edu/english/publications/youngscholarsinwriting/. You also have the option of circulating your research
project to a wider audience online through a blog, website, YouTube video, etc.
Research article have different formats depending on the discipline (for example, research articles in the sciences often
use a more “objective” tone, less direct quotes, and more visuals like charts and graphs than research articles in the
humanities). But academic research articles in every field use some basic formatting conventions: there’s often an abstract
at the beginning that summarizes the article; there’s usually an introduction and discussion of related research, a
discussion of research methods, a presentations of the results, and discussion of the significance of the research. Different
sections of a scholarly research article are usually divided by headings. The length of a scholarly research article will
depend on the size of the study and the assignment guidelines (if it’s written for a college class) or the journal submission
guidelines (if it’s written for publication in a scholarly journal). You’ll be conducting a small research study, so your
research article should be between 1,500 and 1,800 words. For non-print articles like videos or podcasts, there will be
fewer words but more of the work will go into creating visuals, video editing, audio editing, etc. In the field of Writing
Studies the most commonly used citation style is the style of the American Psychological Association (APA), so we’ll use
APA style. APA highlights the year of the research you’re citing, and in Writing Studies we focus on the year since older
research may not be as relevant as current studies. If you decide you’d like to write a research article to submit to the
journal Young Scholars in Writing you should use MLA style, since that journal requires MLA and not APA style.
You’ll include a cover memo with your peer response workshop draft and the revised draft we discuss in our one-on-one
*The cover memo for the peer response workshop draft should be one paragraph describing what you think the
strengths and weaknesses of the draft are and one paragraph with any questions or concerns you have for your peer
*The cover memo for the one-on-one conference should be one paragraph describing what you think the strengths and
weaknesses of the draft are, one paragraph with any questions or concerns you have for me, and one paragraph
summarizing the feedback you got from your peer responders and what revisions you made based on your peers’
For this project I will be giving you a face-to-face response in a one-on-one conference rather than a written response.
See the UWP1 portfolio rubric.
Date Here: Bring a print or digital copy of your Discourse Community Project Proposal to class.
Date Here: Upload a draft of your Discourse Community Project to class SmartSite “Assignments” tool before class and bring a print
or digital copy to class. Minimum 900 words.
Date Range Here: Bring a print or digital copy of your revised Discourse Community Project to your 30 minute one-on-one
conference with me. Minimum 1,200 words.
Date Here: Include the final draft of your Discourse Community Project as part of your final electronic portfolio. 1,500-1,800 words.
Submit the URL to your portfolio to the SmartSite Assignments tool by midnight on ??.
Date Here: Final exam three-minute oral presentation on your Discourse Community Project followed by a Q and A. Use a visual aid
in the presentation (poster, PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.).
Okay, so it’s Thursday, February 21st, and is there any other information you
want at the beginning of your interview?
No, just my questions, and then you can answer them.
And I’ll use … I’ll quote your words in my paper. In my research paper.
Okay. And to be clear, we’re talking about Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx discourse
community, and if you’re going to narrow it down, it’s gonna be like in
education, or Chicano students. Something like that?
So, how would you describe, or define, your discourse community in school?
So, I would describe my discourse community as: a group of people with … who
share politics, ideology, method, life experience, and linguistic features. With
So, as a Mexican American, what have you encountered that makes you want to
make a difference in the discourse community?
Yeah, so I identify as Chicana, and Mexican American is something that’s
different. And we can talk about that, or not, [crosstalk 00:01:30] for your
But as a Chicana, I can say that I’ve encountered … I’ve had experiences with
racial discrimination. As a young child, and seeing my parents, grandparents,
and other adults, be subjected to violence, and to search, particularly where I
grew up, in San Diego, which is on the border, you know, San Diego, you can go
on either side of U.S. and Mexico.
And, so this experience of racialized violence, and also discrimination in school
systems; discrimination of Chicanx, Latinx students, some children, or people
who identify as Mexican American, and other students as well. And that’s
something that really impacted me, and affected me, and made me want to
work for social justice and equity, in education systems, specifically.
Okay. How does your discourse community unite, to seek your identity, as a
Yeah, so it’s interesting because, I would say within the discourse community,
we are always in constant negotiation about the language that we use, and the
terms that we use.
For example, as you know, in the history of the movement, in the beginning, it
was the Chicano movement, you know.
And then you had Chicanas, and feminists, saying, “We really need to talk about
And then Chicanx … one of the interpretations of the “x word” final, is: we can
not exclude people in our community who identify as queer. As queer Chicana,
queer Chicano, or as gender non-binary.
And so, we’re always talking with each other, about what it means to identify as
Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx.
Did I answer your question?
Yeah. And then, number four is: what do you want to achieve, as a member of
your discourse community?
So, for myself, I want to achieve, or improve my practice of the self realization
that comes from [foreign language 00:04:14] and community self
determination; you’ll remember that. So these are the two things.
So, for myself, it involves a daily questioning of my methods and practices,
particularly as an educator in the classroom. And also about my ways of being.
How do I treat others? Am I reproducing oppressive system of power, or am I
empowering others? So how I behave on an individual level, as a person, in
general, and as an educator, specifically.
And the second part is that: I hope that through my work in the classroom, and
some of my research, that on a bigger scale, outside of myself, that more
Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx students go to college, and finish college. And have,
not only the access, but the resources; the opportunities; the support that really
isn’t there right now, in lots of ways.
So that’s what I want to improve, for my discourse community.
So how do you think you personally contributed to your discourse community?
How do I personally contribute to my discourse community? I think that I like
being in this role of a little bit of like a trickster. I’m the younger of two children,
and my older sister is sort of very solid, and very grounded, and very serious,
and I was always really playful, and a little bit of a troublemaker.
And we all have a little bit of that troublemaker; kind of like boundary dweller,
border crosser. I think, in essence, one of the ways that I contribute to my
discourse community, is through play, and through humor.
And that’s kind of like my particular way of questioning some of the language
that we use; about ourselves, about others, about how we tell the story of what
it means to be Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx.
And also the narratives that we tell, as a discourse community, that make us
part of a group. My contributions is sort of like calling things out, and I also get
called out, you know, by other people, who are giving me … teasing me, or
seriously interrogating some way that I’ve talked about something.
Often times, with a lot of affection, and care, and humor. Sort of like
So, would it be … I think you have contributed as a TA that tells students how …
for example, my class, you told us about your culture, your … and then the
readings, and then you let us do the presentations, I think. Maybe, isn’t that
part of a way that you have contributed?
Yeah, absolutely. As a TA, the way that I construct the classroom agreements,
and the way that I definitely am in a position of socializing students into
Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx history, and culture.
So that’s one of the ways that I contribute it too, is by being a facilitator of those
spaces, and that content.
It’s kind of too much power. I don’t really want it.
How does participation in, or with your discourse community, shaped your
Before I say how, I’ll say how often.
Because identity, for me, is not a fixed thing. It’s not a static thing. There’s some
things about me, or I’d say my identity, that are very old. And not only old like in
my life, but that I’ve inherited from my mother, who got it from her mother.
From my father, who got it from his father, mother, you know. There are things
That I have that are a part of me, that you could say don’t change so easily.
And on the other hand, sometimes I have an interaction with someone in my
discourse community, and it changes my identity, because I learn something
that’s really important, or I learn a way in which I am causing harm by using a
particular language, or having a particular practice that’s not supportive to
And so then I have the opportunity to change. To change the way I see myself,
which changes the way that I am.
Yeah. Cool. I think that will be the last question.
Thank you so much.
All right, I’ll stop this.
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