blackboard resources

last.updated 1.29.06


Discourse Communities


As we have already established, our writing often gets influenced (disciplined, determined, shaped) by the institutions that we write within or write for. We have also established that institutions can be organizations (like the US government, Canon, the Virginia Beach SPCA) or they can be communities (like "the South," Hampton Roads, the Ghent district). In either case, these institutions are often comprised of discourse communities which often perpetuate institutional conventions. Thus to better understand the institution, one has to understand its discourse communities. We will discuss strategies for analyzing discourse communities.

Article Reviews

We will listen to article reviews by Kristen and Sarah.


We will address the following questions...

  • What questions do you have about Swales's article?
  • According to Swales, what is a discourse community? how does it differ from a speech community?
  • What are the six criteria for establishing a discourse community? What other heuristics would you use to determine a discourse community?
  • According to Swales, is a class a discourse community? Why or why not?

Discussion–Ketter & Hunter

We will address the following questions...

  • What questions do you have about Ketter and Hunter's article?
  • What is a liberal arts college? How does it differ from a state university, like ODU?
  • What is Ketter & Hunter's argument?
  • According to Ketter & Hunter, what is a community of practice? In your own opinion, how does this compare to a discourse commenting?
  • How did Erin's respective communities of practice influence her writing in those commodities? How did they influence the writing she did in the other commenting? What does this say about Joliffe's "myth of transcendence"?
  • Note that this chapter came from an online book (i.e., a book that by-passes the parameters of the printed page). In what ways do you see this article in its formatting and content working outside the discipline of print? What affect does it have on this text?


As a class, we will discuss how we might apply the heuristics (on institutions and discourse communities) we created to the following scenario:


You have chosen to pursue graduate studies at the Master's level in your field of study. Your goal is to get your Master's degree. What do you need to learn to achieve your goal?

Lecture–White Paper

The instructor will explain the generic parameters of a white paper that you will use for your Context Analysis.