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Rhetoric and Composition The concept of a discourse community is vital to academic writers across nearly all disciplines, for the academic writer's purpose is to influence a discourse community to think differently.
At the same time the discourse community does not expect to see any writing that appears too foreign. For this reason the academic writer must follow the constraints see article section below set by the discourse community so his or her ideas Turning point essay assignment approval and respect.
Discourse community constraints[ edit ] Constraints are the discourse community's written and unwritten conventions about what a writer can say and how he or she can say it.
They define what is an acceptable argument. Each discourse community expects to see a writer construct his or her argument using their conventional style of language and vocabulary, and they expect a writer to use the established intertext within the discourse community as the building blocks for his or her argument.
Writing for a discourse community[ edit ] In order for a writer to become familiar with some of the constraints of the discourse community they are writing for, a useful tool for the academic writer is to analyze prior work from the discourse community.
The writer should look at the textual 'moves' in these papers, focusing on how they are constructed. Across most discourses communities, writers will: Identify the novelty of their position Make a claim, or thesis Acknowledge prior work and situate their claim in a disciplinary context Offer warrants for one's view based on community-specific arguments and procedures Hyland Each of the 'moves' listed above are constructed differently depending on the discourse community the writer is in.
For example, the way a claim is made in a high school paper would look very different from the way a claim is made in a college composition class. It is important for the academic writer to familiarize himself or herself with the conventions of the discourse community by reading and analyzing other works, so that the writer is best able to communicate his or her ideas.
Porter Contrary to some beliefs, this is by no means plagiarism. Writers should also be aware of other ways in which the discourse community shapes their writing.
Other functions of the discourse community include determining what makes a novel argument and what a 'fact' is. The following sections elaborate on these functions. Misconceptions regarding facts and opinions in the discourse community[ edit ] It is important for any writer to distinguish between what is accepted as 'fact' and what is accepted as 'opinion'.
Wikipedia's article Fact misguides writers in their interpretation of what a fact actually is. The article states that "A fact derived from the Latin factum, see below is something that has really occurred or is actually the case".
But this is not how writers think of facts.
Writing professionals hold that, "In a rhetorical argument, a fact is a claim that an audience will accept as being true without requiring proof". The audience can be thought of as a discourse community, and a fact can suddenly change to become an opinion if stated in a different discourse community.
This is how writers within discourse communities manage to present new ideas to their communities. Any new opinion would need to be proven by making a rhetorical argument, in which the writer would weave together what his or her intended audience will accept as 'facts' in a way that supports his or her idea.
Therefore, knowing the intended discourse community is a very important part of writing. Across discourse communities, what is considered factual may fluctuate across each community. You, like most people, would probably classify the statement "the Earth is round" as a "fact.
What Kantz wants us to see is that what makes the statement a fact is not how "true" the statement is but that most people have agreed that it's true and treat it as true.
Statements about which we haven't reached this consensus remain claims, statements that people argue about.
Kantz's work here demonstrates why it's so important to read texts-even "factual" works like textbooks and encyclopedias-as consisting of claims, not facts.
Misconceptions regarding making a novel argument[ edit ] Within discourse communities, writers build on top of the ideas established by previous writers. One of the most common misconceptions about writing is the idea of the 'lonely writer'; that great writers' papers are filled almost entirely with original ideas and messages.
But this is simply not the case. Discourse communities introduce new ideas and claims, and from these, writers expand on them. James Porter, a scholar of Rhetoric at Indiana University, uses The Declaration of Independence as an example to illustrate this point.Transforming media into collaborative spaces with video, voice, and text commenting.
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