Chris's Midterm Proposal

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Posted on 22 Mar 2013 00:39

Introduction

A discourse community can be defined as a group of people that communicates in order to achieve a common goal. John Swales defines a discourse community as having six signature characteristics: A discourse community has a common set of public goals, mechanisms of intercommunication among its members, feedback mechanisms, specific genres and lexes, and a threshold level of membership with discourse expertise. For my project in particular, I look to analyze our class as a discourse community by seeing how the class fits Swales’s six characteristics.

Current Situation

Studying discourse communities provides a method of looking into the ways groups successfully interact with each other. I noticed in my readings that several authors (such as Swales and Branick) chose to study communities that they were actively involved in. Therefore I feel that it might be beneficial for me to analyze a group that I actively contribute to (the class) and describe the genres and methods that we use to work towards our common goals.

Project Plan

As for the specifics of how I will research my project, I plan to demonstrate how our class fits Swales’s model of a discourse community. I plan to analyze all of the major genres of writing that appear on the wiki and comment on the unique ways in which they contribute to the class discourse. I also intend to attempt to distinguish between what makes one an insider or an outsider in this particular community. I might also conduct interviews with a few members of the class in order to get some external feedback on their opinions of the class as well.

Qualifications

I feel that I am qualified to take on project because I have been a direct participant in this discourse community for almost two full semesters now. I know the ins and outs of what makes this discourse community function and how we all play a part in working toward the common goal of improving in our writing as the semester progresses. I have access to nearly every written resource from this class as well as access to my fellow peers who could offer their opinions to support my research.

Challenges

I feel that one of the most difficult topics I will discuss is the distinction between what distinguishes an insider and an outsider in this particular discourse community. I for one feel like an insider having been a member of this community for some time now and having engaged in multiple forms of discourse within this community, but at the same time I feel that I would not be considered an insider when compared to Andrew and his role in the community. This is why I believe that I might not be able to find a definitive answer to this question, but rather look into varying degrees of expertise in the community.

Conclusion

Hopefully, through this project I will be able to gain some insight into what really makes this class function well, ultimately identifying which methods of discourse prove to be very useful in accomplishing the goals of the class and also identifying which seem less effective.

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