Personal Discourse Description and Analysis

We’ve read James Paul Gee’s theories on discourse and literacy, and we’ve read and watched a few essays, articles, and videos that discuss how identity interacts with discourse. Now it’s your turn to write an exploration of how discourse interacts with your own identity.

In this 3 – 5 pageessay, you will use Gee as a lens to describe your literacy in one of your secondary discourses, the features of this particular discourse, and how it serves to shape your identity. Since this paper will focus on a secondary discourse, you should not write about your native tongue, but, rather, about a discourse that you have learned and/or acquired beyond your home language. This discourse could be a second language that you have learned, the slang you use with your friends, the jargon you use while playing a sport, the specific terminology related to your job, the specialized vocabulary of your favorite sci-fi/fantasy fandom, or any number of alternatives. While I want you to detail aspects of this discourse, you should not simply provide a list of definitions for the pertinent terminology: you need to focus on showing the reader how you learned or acquired that terminology and how it pertains to your identity specifically.

You must incorporate at least two sources into your essay: Gee’s “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction” and one of the other discourse-related readings/multimodal texts we have done/will do together in class: Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Andrew Lam’s “The Language of Violence,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” Amy Tan’s “The Language of Discretion,” Jamila Lyiscott’s “Three Ways of Speaking English,” and Erin Dietel-McLaughlin’s video literacy narrative “An Army Wife’s Tale: What the Military Taught Me About Literacy and Community,” or you may choose a piece from the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives.


Friday, October 14th Rough Draft DUE, In-Class Workshop
Wednesday, October 19th Final Draft DUE




Point Breakdown for Project One: 100 points, 10% of Final Grade


Author’s Note: 10 points

The Author’s Note is something we complete in class on the day of the in-class workshop on Friday, October 14th. Specific instructions will be available in class that day and then available in the Assignments & Resources folder after that.


Anecdote: 20 points

The Anecdote is a key part of this paper. An anecdote is a story, and an effective anecdote includes details that draw the reader into the story. This section will be graded based on the effectiveness of your anecdote: Do you describe the scene well? Do you establish characters and setting? Do you bring in specific details? Your goal here is to vividly describe your experience.


Analysis: 20 points

The Analysis is the other key part of this paper. A good analysis will make connections to the discourse concepts we have been discussing in class. What kinds of discourse are you discussing in your paper? How have your past experiences contributed to your current literacy? What kinds of apprenticeship did you undergo to enculturate yourself into a particular discourse? The goal here is to make sure that your paper goes beyond just telling a story and connects back to discourse theory specifically. To do that, the next category will come in handy…


Use of Terms: 20 points

For this paper, I’ve asked you to incorporate several of the literacy terms we’ve discussed in class; for example: discourse community, literacy, enculturation, the different types of discourses, mushfaking, intertextuality, etc., etc. To earn these points, you must use a minimum of five terms and demonstrate that you understand their meaning.


Organization: 15 points

These points are earned by putting your ideas together in an organizational pattern that makes sense, having paragraphs that flow together with proper transitions instead of feeling herky-jerky, and having the entire essay work together as a cohesive whole as opposed to a series of unconnected ideas.


Grammar: 5 points

I believe in rhetorical grammar; we’ll talk more about rhetoric as this class continues, but what that basically means is that I only care about grammar when it interferes with your meaning.


MLA Format: 5 points

Again, pretty simple: just make sure that your paper is in MLA format. Writing Center tutors can assist you specifically with MLA format, or you can use the OWL Purdue site (linked under Assignments and Resources on Blackboard).


Word Count: 5 points

These five points are earned just by reaching a minimum of three full pages.


*BONUS*: 5 points

If you see a Writing Center tutor for this paper and fill out a Revision Agenda, you will receive a bonus 5 points which is equivalent to a 5% boost on this paper.