Scholar Anne Beaufort describes a discourse community as a”loosely formed network of readers and writers who communicate primarilythorugh written texts” (College Writing and Beyond, p. 37). Inthe book just cited, Beaufort follows a college student named Timthrough 4 years of college and 2 years afterwards into the field ofEngineering. Tim learns the similarities and differences between writingin college and writing in his profession. He learns the discourses ofengineers, which includes specific ways of thinking, communicating, andworking. His “loosely formed network” is the network of Engineers.
Like Tim, each of you are on the path of entering into a specificdisciplinary or professional discourse community. For this assignment,please consider the professional discourse community of your major anddesired future profession. Compose a one-page single-spaced essay (with5+ paragraphs) reflecting on and explaining the discourse communities ofyour major and/or desired profession. In your paper, you may considerthe following:
- The genres of writing in this community
- Some key terms in this community
- The purpose of this community
- The big “C” conversations in this community.
- Big C Conversation is a term Iborrow from another scholar, James Gee. Every discipline engages in bigC conversations: Conversations that are “big” in that field, and aroundwhich there is evidence for multiple points of view. For example,scientists engage in an ongoing conversation about the origins of theuniverse; those in the social or psychological sciences may explorequestions about nature and nurture in the development of human beings;and professionals in my own field of Rhetoric and Composition explorethe ways new technologies influence how we compose and communicate.
- What it means to “be a professional” in this line of work, and what a professional will look like and do.
- What counts as evidence and as knowledge in this community
Grading: Since this is a low-stakes journal, and not a polishedpiece, the grading will be based primarily on its length and engagementwith the topic. I will be a little more lenient on grammar and editinghere than on the “big papers,” although I do appreciate the grammar andediting. Also, essays that are difficult to understand based on problemswith sentence structure or poor editing will be deducted; however, thegoal here is a readable and interesting piece that engages with thetopic of your own professional discourse community. My hope is that youwill be able to reflect critically on your discipline and learn a littlemore about what it means to be a professional in thatdiscipline/field.
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