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ENG 2322
Project #1: Discourse Community
Your first project is adapted from Catherine Latterell’s “Remix: Reading & Composing Culture.”
Here is the prompt:
Write an 3-4 page essay about a discourse community and use personal observation to
investigate what makes this discourse community, in fact, a community. To begin, think
about the personal, geographical, academic, and social communities to which you belong
(see handout “Discourse Community and Culture”). Another idea is to identify a daily
activity that you share with other people—for example, studying, taking the bus, or working
out. As evidenced by the Fleet Feet blog (link in Blackboard), a community can be defined
by a verb or action (i.e., running). For this first assignment, please do not observe an online
community. Next, observe people and take field notes as you study their actions (see handout
“Observation Log and Report”). Your observation should last one hour (or more, if you like,
but you must do at least one hour). Take care to avoid identifying people by name—they
must remain anonymous—and do not interact anyone. Simply record what you see. Lastly,
your thesis for this project must include an iteration of this sentence: “________________ is
a community.”
Your essay should answer the following questions in essay form. Instead of answering the
questions one by one, your job is to write a cohesive essay that answers these questions and
supports your thesis:
What makes this group a community? What holds the group together?
What interests, needs, and values do these people share?
What tensions or differences work against the cohesion of this community?
How do you fit in with this group?
What makes this community one that you want to be part of?
How does membership in this discourse community impact your life? (e.g., how does it
contribute to a life of significance and worth?)
The purpose of this assignment is multifaceted: (1) To broaden your view of the concept of
discourse community by moving beyond the explicit manifestations of culture within a discourse
community to also include the implicit aspects as well. (2) To practice observation and taking
field notes. (3) Reflect on how membership in a discourse community contributes to a life of
significance and worth. (4) Reinforce rhetorical knowledge by providing you with the
opportunity to write an argument of definition (you may remember this from ENG 1252). (5)
Build foundation for further primary research techniques.
Ideas for Getting Started
Consider the approach you’d like to take to this assignment. For example, the Fleet Feet blog
entry makes this argument: Running is a community. This is a community based on action or
activity. Now consider Kathleen Norris who defined a community in a more traditional sense—
one based on place. She makes this argument: The Plains are a community.
Consider these statements as well:
Loving the Chicago Cubs is a community.
Voting for Tom Henry (mayor of Fort Wayne) is a community.
Wearing the t-shirt “I heart dogs” is a community.
No matter which approach you take, be creative and have fun.
Lastly, avoid answering the abovementioned questions one by one; instead, weave together a
cohesive essay that is organized in logical manner and uses your observation—a primary
source—to draw the reader in and support your argument. Do not lose track to your main goal,
which is to convince your audience that the discourse community you describe is, in fact, a
discourse community. To help support your argument, be sure you mention both the implicit and
explicit aspects of the culture you have chosen.
Primary Learning Objectives
Determine appropriate rhetorical techniques to apply in response to rhetorical situations
Use the writing process to discover and reassess ideas
Compose valid arguments in multiple modalities
Support arguments with appropriate types of evidence
Use the rhetorical situation to determine the appropriate citation system
Describe how inquiry contributes to a life of significance and worth
Project #1 Essay Rubric
The author wrote an essay that meets the assignment criteria in terms of
subject matter. The ideas presented are on topic and are appropriate for the
Introduction: The author captured the reader’s attention and provided
enough information for the reader to understand the thesis statement.
The author crafted a thesis/claim (which is underlined) in response to the
assignment and it was appropriately placed.
The author provided necessary background information and/or explained
specialized terminology.
Each body paragraph was well developed and supported the topic
sentence; the author provided both relevant and adequate support for the
The author integrated quotes from their observation log into the essay to
provide evidence for their argument.
The author effectively wrapped up the essay and restated the thesis in the
The essay contained several well-chosen in-text citations (direct quote,
paraphrase, or summary) that adhered to APA guidelines (including signal
phrase, quotation marks, quoted material, and parenthetical citation).
The essay was formatted according to APA guidelines.
The essay met the length requirement.
The essay was carefully proofread and edited.
The author crafted a compelling and appropriate title for the essay.
McDonalds is a Discourse Community
Indiana Tech
Fast Food
Starting off with my research I decided to choose my job McDonald’s as my community.
What makes us a community is how we come together, work together, and provide service for
others. One thing that holds us together is a common goal of the business to satisfy customers.
Other things are of course mutual respect, work ethic, and commitment. There needs to be a
common ground and knowledge of basic core values. Many people see fast food as just a way to
grab a quick bite, but behind the scenes without a good functioning team there isn’t anything fast
about it. It’s going to take a lot longer to get your Big Mac, French fries, and chocolate shake.
McDonald’s is a community.
First person I observed was Employee A. The start time of observing was about 10:05
p.m. February 24, 2020. He walks in and heads to the back to clock himself in 5 minutes after the
the shift has started. I think to myself he always gets here late. I always give employees about 10
minutes after the shift has started to show up. Once a little time goes by, he walks up to the front.
He glances at me to see if I’m watching him and then proceeds to make a small chocolate shake.
In the past I’ve had to talk to him about stealing larger sizes. We are allowed one small specialty
drink only and it must be a part of our free meal. By specialty I mean shakes, frappes, or
smoothies. We are not allowed to let this happen and it gives them permission to steal other
things. So, he’s hesitant in things he does because he knows I’m advocate for rules and
regulation. I say to him, “That’s your drink for your meal?” He responds, “yes.” Employee A
then heads back to the kitchen area and checks the trays of food. He realizes the nuggets are
almost out and rushes over to drop two bags. He seems as if he doesn’t want to get behind
because it is Friday and people order the most food. We don’t normally slow down until about 2
a.m. if were lucky. When he’s caught up with food, he then walks by the freezer where you can
barely see him and leans on it. He takes out his phone, puts headphones in, and watches
something. Now I’m thinking to myself wow the other managers really let him do this. I only
work with him once a week so I’m not the manager he mostly works with. So, I kind of feel
powerless in terms of teaching because it seems like people in higher authority are never on the
same page. This causes tension between higher ups and that works against us in being united as a
community. Then it becomes a blame game. It’s like high school all over again.
Employee B is very different than Employee A. When she walks in, she walks to the
kitchen and looks around the table and in the freezers. To me she is making sure things have been
stocked and cleaned by the previous shift. She doesn’t want the shift to start off bad. Employee B
throws gloves on and stares at the monitor which shows two Filet. She steams the buns, adds
tartar sauce, cheese, and sends them up. Employee B says, “Hey girl who else coming in. I’m
tired.” This was before Employee A showed up and he was sent to the back to assist her. There
was a customer who ordered two orders with a total of 20 sandwiches. Employee B had forgot a
10-piece nugget and I called back for one. She said, “I sent them up you are giving out free
food.” It was said with an attitude as if it was impossible and that she wouldn’t ever make a
mistake. This is another tension or difference that works against the cohesion of this community.
Attitudes and clashing egos.
This community has explicit characteristics such as dress code, food, prices, and
materials used. We are required to wear a full uniform and proper shoes. We must follow food
prep guidelines to prevent food born illnesses or cross-contamination. When it comes to food, we
are allowed one meal for our shift. Employees can also have a 50% discount off one order if they
choose to buy something. So those are a couple of explicit characteristics in my community.
As far as implicit characteristics we share many. We all care about respect and if you give it you
receive it. Another is trust because we must be able to rely on each other to do our parts. If one
thing isn’t done it slows the overall job down. We share an understanding that life happens, and
emergencies happen as well. My community has a good amount of implicit and explicit
Membership in this community impacts my life by giving me experience of the work
force. It was my first job and I’ve been there for 4 years now. It’s taught me about organizational
behavior, multitasking, working with others, leadership, and many other skills. I fit in with this
group because we bond over the job. Outside of this community I can’t see a bond there
personally. What made me want to first be apart of this community honestly was money. I was 18
years old and looking for a way to get some income. It is a good first job and has taught me a lot
about what a team really is. McDonald’s is indeed a community.

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