United Forces or Just Mushfaking?

In this reading, it talks about discourse community, specifically academic discourse communities. I know what a discourse is but I had never really materialized the idea of a “discourse community”. It was helpful when Johns included the definition of discourse community “as a basis for sharing and holding in common; shared expectations, shared participation, commonly (or communicably) held ways of expressing. Like audience, discourse community entails assumptions about conformity and convention”. Discourse communities enable members throughout the world to maintain their goals, regulate their membership, and communicate efficiently with one another. Discourse communities are not only within individuals that often affiliate with several people with varying levels of involvement and interest, but they are professional as well. This is where it gets tricky. Communities of practice are similar to discourse communities, except they are more focused on some kind of practice that unites the team as a whole. Where as discourse communities focus more on texts and language that keep on their goals and keep members communicating with one another. It was interesting to read about how discipline-specific allegiances have basic, generalizable, textual, and rhetorical rules for the entire academic community. Although faculty want to their students to understand certain academic prose, yet it is unfair to expect such high expectations from them because they may have not been taught it or just taught something different in general. The composite of arguments about the nature, values, and practices in general academic prose include: explicit texts, prevailing the topic and argument in the introduction, writers providing “signposts” for the readers to help guide them through the test, the distance between the writer and the text that the language of the texts should create, how texts should maintain a “rubber-gloved” quality of voice and register, how texts should contain a set of social and authority relations, the text should display a vision, and complexity of intertextuality. All these points are valid, yet it is unfair to expect students to maintain all if these perfectly in their writing. I agree with the intertextuality argument. I think it is critical for one to be able to retain information and be able to create a derivative work that is unique from the original work.

Another part of the text that got me thinking was when Johns talked about how students become affiliated with academic discourse communities. In order to become active academic participants, students must make some sacrifices that can often create personal and social distance between them and their families and communities. Students are asked to change their language and therefore face the challenge with the affiliations of their home cultures in order to take on the values, language, and genres of their disciplinary culture. This made me think about the Chicanos and the other stories we read. As the people from different cultures tried to adapt to American culture, they often felt judged or unwelcome. This may be a result of the unwillingness to bend or adapt some of their disciplinary norms to accommodate these people’s interests, vocation, and language. As Johns takes a deeper look into the academic aspect of it, she offers ways to solve these challenges students face when required to sacrifice major cultural and linguistic aspects of their lives. One last thing I really liked from the text is when Johns states that we should be developing “students who explore ideas and literacies rather than seek simple answers”.

John_s_Discourse_Communities_and_COPs-reading notes


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