Essentially, discourse is an act of communication between a composer and audience for a particular purpose. This communication can take a variety of forms.
Here are some common forms of discourse:
However, also think beyond textual discourses, for example:
You are encouraged to think expansively about what counts as a discourse so that your work in English 2089 reflects the diversity and richness of 21st century discourses and communication practices.
When considering any form of discourse, in addition to understanding WHAT is being said, also focus on WHO is creating the text, WHY they are doing so, and HOW the resulting discourse impacts or has impacted the issue.
Ask yourself the following questions to ANALYZE discourse:
Analyzing the discourse on an issue is different from arguing a position on an issue. See the chart below for an example of these differences:
|Topic||Arguing a Topic||Analyzing Discourse on a Topic|
|Cars and pollution||Should US automakers spend more money and research to make cars less harmful to the environment?||
Different discourse communities will often discuss the same topic in very different ways. The concept map below shows some discourse communities involved in conversations related to obesity.
Be careful to sufficiently narrow your focus so you are not trying to analyze a community with millions of members who have vastly different discourse practices (i.e. “scientists” or “business people”)
Be sensitive to stereotypes if you analyze a community associated with race, religion, etc.
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