Lesson 8

Solo Writing: Insider vs Outsider

Prompt: I want you to think of two different situations, one in which you have felt like an insider in a group of people or community, and one in which you have felt like an outsider.

Perhaps you have felt like an insider in your second year in robotics club—you knew all the back history of the group, you know the important jargon, you know who's in charge, you feel at home here, confident enough to act and speak without worry you're "doing the wrong thing". I tend to feel this way in my graduate seminar classes, especially ones in composition/rhetoric.

Perhaps you have felt like an outsider when you took a class in another major from your own, or when you joined a new religious community, or when you first sat through your first biology lecture—you didn't know the language that others felt comfortable with; you didn't know how to act or speak; you felt like you were doing everything wrong, like you're an outsider.

Once you've identified your two groups, do some writing: What made you an insider in the one group? What made you an outsider in the other?

Walkthrough of Second Assignment Progression

  • See class-by-class schedule for progression and prompts

How should we break up groups?

  • Idea 1: break up by major
  • Idea 2: randomize every day
  • Idea 3: I pick based on what I know of your skills/personalities
  • Idea 4: We come up with a list of group roles, and everyone self-assigns to one of these roles
    • Tech wiz
    • Wordsmith
    • Detail specialist (OCD)
    • Ideas person
    • Each group has one of each

Final group work session on tutorial webpages

For next time


  • John Swales, "The Concept of Discourse Community" (PDF)
  • James Paul Gee, "Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction" (PDF)


  • Take good notes on both texts, especially the definitions they offer for technical terms like "lexis" and "mushfake"
  • We're having a quiz in class next time
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