Ohio State University The Ami

What We Are Writing

Our goal as a writer will be to explore, analyze, and explain to your audience how a particular discourse community related to a conspiracy theory works. You will also need to explain how this community understands itself and its relationship to some aspect of the wider world. To write a successful essay, you will have to try to set aside your own assumptions, opinions, and values in order to try to understand the assumptions, opinions, and values of the group in its own terms.

This project is not meant to be evaluative; in other words, you will have to suspend judgment about the group and its behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. Whether you agree or disagree on some personal level with the group and its practices is irrelevant in this essay. Instead, your focus should be on analyzing and explaining in sufficient detail how this group works, thinks, and acts so that someone completely unfamiliar with it can understand it and its members better. Thus, just as a cultural anthropologist might research the values, beliefs, and behaviors of members of a particular tribe, religious group, or organization as a way of understanding the variety of human experience, as a writer your goal is to provide insight into a particular group that many people may not know about already.

As John Swales and others have argued, a discourse community is any group of people who:

1)   share a common language/vocabulary

2)   share common behaviors, practices, and/or procedures for doing things

3)   share common goals, beliefs, attitudes, and/or assumptions

4)   share common ways of communicating with one another

5)   has a threshold for membership, or a means of recognizing who does and does not belong to the community.

These points of analysis from Swales will serve as points of discussion in your essay, and will turn into topic sentences for the body paragraphs. In addition, provide background information on your particular conspiracy theories.   

Recommendations:

1. Look to use a variety of sources (Epideictic, Deliberative, and Forensic).

2. Must use a quote from John Swales.  Most students use the definition Discourse Communities.

3. Develop source material into points for analysis.  Please look to sources such as blogs, youtube videos, Reddit etc to build your paper.

4. Give background information on your specific group, but only information that is relevant to focus on paper.

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