Such Varying Outlooks on Society!

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Posted on 12 Mar 2013 21:44

Would you believe two scholars that specialize in similar fields have completely different outlooks on their studies? Anna M. Johns and John Swales discuss two very different ideas with regards to discourse communities. Their outlooks and reasonings vary in several ways. Conveyed through Anna's deep, substantial approach to discourses, she admonishes the reader into knowing when to really join a discourse community and be seriously prepared for its sophisticated prose! While, Swales intends to generalize the concept of discourse in itself in order to see who is able to join it and how can they join it by giving a more positive outlook towards it!

Anna M. Johns discusses the essential points of discourse communities with more specific regards to academic ones. Referencing to various scholars (i.e. Swales, Lave, Wagner, and many others) about their views on discourse communities, she effectively conveys a key message about them: They hold a common, specific goal and terminology within their group that is more or less specialized in the area. (i.e. group of specialized musicians, Ph.D. literature students, etc.) In particular, however, Anna accentuates the importance of academic discourse communities in order to help envision students, of our level, (e.g. high school students, undergraduates, graduates, and others) the complexities of memberships and roles of discourse in the professional academic world. By doing research throughout these behaviors, some major conclusions on students’ contributions to these groups can be drawn.

Data about the behavior of these communities was collected through the various articles produced by Elbow, Geertz, and Dudley-Evans. Some interesting findings that were discovered about the usage of text in academic situations included: exposure of students to explicit texts in order to be able to analyze them with proper academic prose, proper, definitive and clear argumentation to the audience, discussion of the student’s tactic in writing this text should be clear (through a “metadiscourse” rubric), and others. With regards to these standards of pure, high-quality writing, additional evidence in relation to them was collected through the literature faculty from Anna’s University, Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, in the syllabi that they provide to their undergraduate students. Set standards of writing were to be expected from these students as they prepared themselves to be presented in these academic discourse communities. Such included: clear writing in expressing a better way to clarify any texts, analyze critically of these texts that were utilized in the piece of writing, the use of properly cited text sources for better connection to these written ideas, and others.

Perhaps, the most important, widely discussed way of inserting proper and plethora of textual evidence in writing is heavily explored in Anna’s discussion of discourse communities. She continues to emphasize these boundaries between the students and professionals in these vast communities such as: breaking or modification of rules in order to give the community a new light. Hence, as one can infer from her intricate findings of academic discourse communities, she wishes for these students to be able to meet at this sophisticated level to be able to mingle in properly through the aid not only from literature faculty but also from each of the students’ abilities.

Many other scholars of literature, however, have opposing views of discourse communities in general. Such a scholar includes a professor of linguistics at the University of Michigan, John Swales. His context of discourse communities is taken on a very broad, generalized standpoint in order to help students such as us or literature experts gain a better view of both the main objectives that discourse communities wish to entail and the purpose of their existence in the world! For example, Swales discusses the six main objectives that discourse communities wish to achieve which he bases on several sources of research and data. Such scholars of basis included Hudson, Hymes, and Freed and Broadband. He uses their takes on speech communities and his observations on speech community to really specialize the meaning of discourse community as a group of individuals that share several common characteristics like: one common goal, specific lexis, adequate amount of members, and others. As you can see from these key points, Swales takes on a very liberal approach about these discourse communities that one can be trained to become part of these if they wish while Anna focuses on a more conservative approach with these academic discourses by explaining whether or not students can become fully part of them!

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