Messy and Complex

Throughout grade school we were taught that genre were the different types of categories that writings were placed into. Carolyn R. Miller “argues that genres are ‘typified rhetorical actions based in recurrent situations’” (Dean). She focuses more on the “’action [a genre]’” uses to accomplish. I didn’t really think much about this definition until I got to the end of the reading. This definition is so much more complicated than what is on the surface level. It all just starts when we realize “genres pervade lives”. They shape our lives while we shape them as well. Dean uses the words “messy” and “complex” to define genres. These words not only describe the theories of genre but also the effects and derivatives it produces. It clicked in my head when it described genre as being to “both arrange what exists and produce something else, something that might not have existed before”. This made me think about how everything relates back to the past and has somewhat of a grip on our entire existence. For example, it is later addressed in the text as the “Historical” aspects of genre.  As Dean goes on to talk about what genres are not, she is expanding and disputing our prior knowledge of what a genre is. This expansion of not only the idea of genre but genre in itself brings us to ask well what is genre? Genre is characterized as “social, rhetorical, dynamic, historical, cultural, situated, and ideological”. This is only the beginning of the complicatedness. It was difficult for me to read about these aspects of genres. These aspects contribute to what genre is, therefore “genres define cultures as much as cultures define genres”. “Different theories about genre place varying degrees of emphasis on these characteristics, and doing this results in different views of what is means to use of learn a genre” (Dean). This chain of thinking leads to a range of different theories about genres. These theories include “Genre as Text” (formalist perspective, most common in classrooms), “Genre as Rhetoric” (genres are ways of acting), and “Genres as Practice” (genres as actions). These theories provide different views on the various implications of the genres concepts; not only the difference between cultures and societies but even between countries. Although some theories make more sense than others, there is no “right” one. But how do we know which theory to follow? How can we process and teach these theories without emphasis on any specific one? Then the question arises can these theories even be taught? Or must we acquire them ourselves, like Discourses?

Dean.GerreTheory Reading Notes


“Shitty First Drafts”

Writing is never easy. Whether it is a paper or just a simple response, we as writers have internal conflicts with ourselves. We expect ourselves to be able to sit down and be able to write the “perfect” paper. I found myself relating to most of what Anne Lamott had to say about shitty first drafts. Shitty First Drafts was very well written and addressed this problem that many writers face on a daily basis. I liked this article a lot because I related to it so well. I put so much pressure on myself when I write. I expect my papers to be amazing on the very first try. When I write, I pressure myself to exceed my past levels of writing and thinking. This is where my problems occur. I just don’t know what to write. Making myself think past my comfort zone is definitely not an easy thing to do, like Lamott also states in the article. Typically, when I write I hand write a first draft then type a second one. I occasionally ask peers or some other person to help edit my paper. I also go through my papers and add things that will make the words run smoother and transition clearer. I would like to thing these methods are helpful and work for me. The one I think is the most helpful is the peer editing. This fresh perspective significantly improves your writing and viewpoint.

Technological Thinking


Technology is growing so fast in today’s world; there isn’t much we do without it. Whether it’s in class taking notes, on the phone with your family, or even making food for yourself, technology is used more than we know. As we have integrated so much of our lives with technology, we must become technologically literate. We can’t have a professor trying to teach the class through power point without knowledge of how to use the computer or a person trying to operate a car without knowing how to use the sophisticated technology that comes along with it. The article defines “technological literacy” as “the ability to use, manage, assess, and understand technology” (Technological Literacy: Shackelford). It also goes to explain the “three interdependent dimensions: knowledge, ways of thinking and acting, and capabilities”. This put a whole new perspective on technology that I had never thought about before. Yes, I have thought about technology but not in those terms. It is different to see them put so formally when we use them so frequently and informally in our everyday lives. Thing that got my attention the most was the requirements for essential technological concepts that must be proficient for children in certain grade levels. As I reflect on my years of primary school, I think about how unaware I was that I was taught these concepts and skills. I didn’t think of it as learning because different forms of technology were the new, cool thing that everybody was learning to use. For example, when I was a kid it was popular to have a Gameboy. It a little bigger than a box of cards and it only had a few buttons on the front. Now a days you see kids playing with these big iPads. These iPads have helped children change they way they think in terms of “creativeness, innovation, and systematic thinking” (Iowa Technology Literacy). As technology affects our present and future lives, it is important that citizens of society “have a basic understanding of how technology affects their world and how they exist both within and around technology” (Technological Literacy: Shackelford). So the real question is: are the children using technology, like the IPad, learning a deep understanding of technology literacy concepts or self-directed learning? I think that using these IPads at such a young age if used at an absolute minimum. A technologically literate person must understand the “planned and unplanned consequences”, be  “familiar with the core concepts and scope of technology”, and understand the reflections of “the values and culture of society” (Technological Literacy: Shackelford). Therefore, children should be taught the proper ways to use technology and the importance behind them.

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

Language Barriers, Culture Shock, and Judgments

Reading these personal stories of how language barriers and culture affect people truly makes me appreciate my language so much more. It really put into perspective an idea of the struggles others that have a different primary language have. It is now easier for me to understand why people who don’t use English as a primary language to revert back to their native language when they are at home or even in uncomfortable situations. These passages also point out the levels of judgment that are in American culture. The judgment may not be all intentional, but also in the eye of the beholder because they are in a new, unfamiliar place. It is not fair to think an ethnicity or group of people are illiterate just because they speak another language. As the author of the first story said it is not fair to judge people based on the natural cultures of their native countries. This made me think of the discrimination Chicano’s face from the excerpt How to Tame a Wild Tongue. Their language differences were used “against each other” and “repeated attacks on our native tongue diminishes their sense of self”. How is it that some people come to realize that they shouldn’t judge others for having a different culture or background? I think the person in the first story is very mature for not judging them before they truly know them. The second story also made me really sad. The fact that the author’s parents made him have the right or perfect accent so they would become successful in life. It is a huge social problem that people have to act certain ways to be accepted by society. This is what all the passages and stories have in common; the sense of rejection and loneness cause by the struggle of being accepted in a culture that has a different native language. With the Chicanos in the first passage, the struggle of adaption in the first story, and the far from “perfect” accent in the second story, it just reaffirms the flaws of a culture and society. Although we are human and sometimes cannot help judgment, I think we should try to take steps to help stimulate more open acceptance to other cultures into American society, like the example we talked about in class with adding a Spanish ballot. This is a good idea because we claim our nation is one where we have freedom to do what we want. It can be misleading if this country only offers an English ballot. As the Hispanic population grows to the largest minority, the society, culture, and attitudes have to accommodate the changes that come with more immigrants coming to the US.


Reading Notes

Language and Culture Story 1 Notes

Language and Culture Story 2

Untamable or Culturally Modified?

Reading this at first was kind of confusing to me. The combination of Spanish and English dialect always throws me off. I guess we are so pampered as American readers that when we read something that freely switches in between languages, we get confused. It may be difficult to understand at points but I think the effect is worth the difficulty of wrestling through the language the reader has difficulty with. For example, in the beginning when Anzaldńa starts first with the example of her “stubborn” and “wild” tongue and the dentist, she strategically does this. She sets the tone for what she is trying to convey in her message. After the dentist example, she then starts flowing her writing in and out of different languages and dialects. She when she claims “wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out”, she is “arguing for the ways in which identity is intertwined with the way we speak and for the ways in which people can be made to feel ashamed of their own tongues”. When she keeps her tongue wild, she is “ignoring the closing of linguistic borders” and is her way of asserting her identity. She makes it clear throughout the text that her identity is made up of her language and culture, as that is driven by power within the society. As her “ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity”, she proudly claims, “I am my language”. Then she goes on to even say that she can’t take pride in herself unless she takes pride in her language. This is hard to understand because as Americans we don’t generally think we take pride in our language, but surprisingly we do. For example, if a person from the South went to some place in the North, both people would make fun of each other’s accents. This is taking pride in our languages. These languages are a part of our Discourses, just like the Chicanos. Being a part of a certain Discourse includes knowing how to properly use the language associated with the little “discourses” within the Big Discourse. She is “70-80%” Indian yet she identifies with being a Mexican as she repeatedly uses the word “our” when describing that “deep in our hearts we believe that being Mexican has nothing to do with which county one lives in”, but the “state of soul”. Although as a culture, when trying to cop out they refer to themselves as Spanish. “This voluntary (yet forced) alienation makes for psychological conflict, a kind or dual identity-we don’t identity with Anglo- American cultural values and we don’t totally identify with the Mexican cultural values”. This statement is really powerful for me. It describes the inner conflict the Chicano people face. They must modify their language and cultural values to fit a certain category, more like just trying to be accepted. This is even played out when Anzaldńa is almost fired for wanting to teach her students with “works by Chicanos” instead of tradition “American literature”. Even while working toward a PH.D., she had to argue her case before she was allowed to make Chicano literature an area of focus. They are stuck between trying to decide whether to modify their Discourse or stick it out and accept it. I guess it is easier said than done because the “struggle of identities” and the “struggle of borders” continue. It is relieving when Anzaldńa feels like the Chicanos “really existed as a people” after reading her first Chicano novel. Although the struggles are far from resolved, literacy helped Anzaldńa form a foundation that she could start identifying herself as a Chicano.

HowtoTameaWildTongue_Reading Notes

Fresh Starts, New Discourses

When first starting this class, I honestly was not sure what to expect. I have spent that last twelve years in English classes and I was hoping that they all prepared me for what was about to come. This English class is not what I expected it to be at all. The work is challenging and makes me think outside the box but it also allows us to interact with others and hear their opinions. As I was reading through my earlier posts on literacy and Discourses, I have realized that I have learned a lot more than I thought. Even though the semester isn’t even halfway over, I have come to understand and think about literacy in a new way. No longer do I think about it being strictly about grammar and the way a person writes, but more about how a person communicates or manipulates a set of codes or conventions to live healthy and productive lives. Now that I think back, we first started off with our first free write (on grammar) probably because most of our original definitions of literacy included a strong influence on grammar. Then our next free write was about home language. We were being prepped for learning about Discourses before we even knew it. When first learning about Discourses, I was rather unsure about it. But after hearing the class discussions and rereading my work, I have come to appreciate Discourses. What really stuck with me was when the passage on Discourses described Discourses as “ways of recognizing and getting recognized”. This statement rings so clear and true in my head. Our primary Discourse defines us. We are recognized as “so and so’s daughter” or something along those lines. As we move further in live, we integrate into our secondary Discourses, which we are known as “friends, girlfriends, roommates, students, athletes, etc”. At the end of our lives, we are recognized by the Discourse that defined us the most, our lifeworld Discourse (which is clearly impacted by our society). The vignettes have helped me understand some of the Discourses in my life. They may not exactly define every one but it is clear to me why I am the way I am. It is from experience, acquisition, learning, and cultural impacts. Like Carlin talks about in his memoir, he rebelled against his mother yet she is the reason he reached further into comedy. Our experiences lead us to have certain reactions and choices in our lives. This has really made me think a great deal. I wonder what my life would be like if I was in a different Discourse or if I had different experiences in my past. I think about the different factors in my life that have had major impact on my Discourses. My parents have probably the biggest impact on me.

Comedic Relief



George Carlin’s life seemed to be full of laughter, heartache, and troubled times. One thing that was evident was the Discourses that shaped his life. He grew up on the run and in the midst of his parents divorce.  Throughout the story Carlin describes conflicting identities and the Discourses that led him to be the successful he had become. For example, the mother was “spoiled, self-centered, strong-willed, and demanding”. The mother grew up “always knowing who she was and what she could do. The mother was independent, yet depended on her sons to help with the judgment and approval of the outside world. Through the mother’s primary Discourse, she learned that judgment is everywhere and concluded “social rules and conventions in America are set by women”. She tries to portray this as well as guilt on her children, which repels Carlin from his mother. Although Carlin’s mother failed to make “something out of him”, she did give him what he deems “that love of words”.  To me it kind of seems like Carlin’s mother married his father for his money. The text does argue that they had a “romantic love”, but from Carlin’s perspective it makes it seem like they weren’t true loves. This factor also adds to Carlin’s discourse: the fact of growing up without a father. Despite this, Carlin exemplifies respect for his father. He talks about how his father was a popular public speaker, a big part of his Discourse. One thing Carlin truly respects and takes from his father is the ability to define ones “self-worth in terms of the universe at large”.  I believe Carlin’s primary Discourse is a under-the-radar combination of his mother and father. His father gave him the ability to speak well publically, and his mother contributed the ease of language as well as the love of words. He puts his own twist on the Discourse in regards to his comedy and religion. Without a doubt, he breaks the norms with the “foul language” and slurs for comedic relief, which indirectly expresses his rejection of his parent’s Discourses. Carlin’s story was very interesting and proved to be a good example of how our Discourses change throughout our life, based on our pasts and experiences. All in all, I enjoyed reading part of his book. The sarcastic, detailed writing embraced serious topics but were lightened by Carlin’s tone. In my opinion, he uses comedy as an escape from all the hardships in his life.


Carlin Reading Notes 9:7:13

The “Erin Alge Discourse”

In Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses, James Paul Gee discusses a new type of literacy, which he calls “New Literacy Studies”. He would call it something like “integrated social-cultural-political-historical literacy studies”, which names the viewpoint it takes on literacy, if it wasn’t so awkward and lengthy. The big question Gee argues is “What does the word ‘literacy’ mean?”. This is a question that trumps many people including, literate, professional, and even the illiterate people. I like how at first Gee goes into how “language” can be misleading. The fact that one can know the exact grammar of the language yet not know how to use the language still fascinates yet troubles me. Different environments and contexts require one to alter the use of the language. That is why one can know the exact grammar and not use the language correctly, but one can have “quite poor grammar and still function in communication and socialization quite well”. This is where the reading about the “Discourse” became very interesting for me.

A Discourse is a socially accepted association among ways of using language and other symbolic expressions including thinking, feeling, believing, valuing, and acting, that allow people to “get recognized as a given person at a specific time and place”.  Discourses help give meaning to people and their communication, verbally and physically. What really helped me understand this first concept was when Gee said,  “Being in a Discourse is being able to engage in a particular sort…recognized as a distinct sort of who doing a distinctive sort of what”. As he also states, being able to understand a Discourse if being able to recognize such ‘dances’”. First of all, I have been turned onto a whole new way of thinking. Also, Discourses allows an individual and society not only to establish who a person is and what their purpose is, but to be able to recognize them as well.

Discourses are “ways of recognizing and getting recognized”. That is why everyone is born with a “primary Discourse”. This Discourse is how we are raised to become an “everyday person”. It gives one our “sense of self and sets the foundation of our culturally specific language” (a.k.a “everyday language”). While reading this part I thought of my own upbringing. I was brought up in a household of two full-time working parents that like to party and drink on the weekends. I was taught to have manners, be polite and do my homework. For a while, I thought every family had to have been like mine. As I grew older, I soon realized that wasn’t true at all and that other families had different households. I always knew growing up in different situations caused you to become a different person, but now I know it’s actually the different Discourses that contributes everyone being different. This can even apply for siblings in the same household. For example, a first-born female and the youngest male will have distinctly different Discourses.

Secondary Discourses come later in life within a more “public sphere” and are most likely acquired. These Discourses vary from the “primary” ones in the way that they are “acquired within institutions that are part are parcel of wider communities”. My secondary Discourses would be a full-time UNCC student, a Christian, and a fitness/nutritionist fanatic. One day another secondary Discourse I will have is my career. In the example they gave in the reading, the lady altered her primary Discourse to include her secondary Discourse of being a lawyer. This is where our “lifeworld Discourse” comes in. “Our lifeworld Discourse is the way that we use language, feel and think, act and interact, and so forth, in order to be an ‘everyday’ person”. Families incorporate parts of valued secondary Discourses into their primary Discourses as “early borrowing”. “Early borrowing is tool used facilitate children’s later success in secondary Discourses. After I reread this part several times, it made me think of the way my parents raised me to always persevere. They taught me to follow everything all the way through to the end and still today I will never give up on something.

There are so many different Discourses in our lives that shape ultimately who we are, our “lifeworld Discourse”. Our primary and secondary Discourse’s change and become “hybridized” throughout our lives. These changes come from things acquired as well as learned. Discourses change when people “mix them and their mixtures get recognized and accepted”. These changes are mastered only by acquisition not through “overt learning”.

Discourse_Literacies-Fall.2013- Erin Alge-Reading Notes

Elements of Literacy Reading Response

If you type the word literacy into Google, you will get probably thousands of answers to what exactly might literacy be. When I think of literacy, I think of one’s ability to read and write. I have always known that terms, in this case literacy, can have many different meanings, but after reading “Elements of Literacy”, my perspectives have been changed. The reading offers a whole lot of information on not only the meanings of literacy but the definitions as well, the perceived uses of literacy, and the ways literacy is taught that lead to different ways of thinking. I was surprised at all the meanings and history behind the definitions and perceived uses of “literacy”. It turned my attention to the fact that literacy was paralleled with topics like religion, the economy, and logic. A specific thing that grabbed my attention was the connection between literacy and moral issues. “If literacy causes human thought and civilization to ‘advance,’ then is becomes and ethical imperative to spread literacy and foster these changes” (Elements of Literacy). This way of thinking lead people to believe that people who were illiterate were misfits who were “intellectually inferior, less humane, and uncivilized”. This was sadly not that shocking to me. In today’s culture, when one is different, they are looked down on and make outcasts. In today’s world, most children attend school and are taught the basic reading and writing skills. They are also given an outrageous amount of standardized tests due to the No Child Left Behind Act. This act makes sure that schools have a high rate of success and that each and every student passes with “proficient” testing levels. This affects literacy in more ways than we can think. It also illustrates “how deeply definitions of literacy are rooted in historical, political, and cultural contingencies”. Another thing that affects literacy is culture. Different cultures use different kind of literacies, which use different writing systems. These different writing systems correspond with different languages, which are learned using different techniques. This affects the way we view people because we judge them based on our own kinds of literacies and cultures. This being said, it is not fair to judge them on what they consider the “norms”. Elements of Literacy Reading Response 1 Notes