One of the learning goals (#3) for this course is to explore the discourse of communities different from our own in terms of culture, race, religion, gender, sexuality, etc. —to begin to see how and why people write differently in different contexts and for a diverse range of audiences. To accomplish this goal, you will write a 4-6 page analytical essay that compares similar texts written from and/or to two different communities—at least one of which must be significantly different from you in terms or race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, gender, religion, age, or culture. You will discuss how the similarities and differences in the texts are related to their rhetorical and social or cultural contexts.
Audience & Purpose:
Your audience for this essay is students within the university who are trying to navigate diverse communities and different types of rhetorical situations. Students are asked to meet new rhetorical demands every day, and you are providing information and analysis to students who are writing in new communities or who are trying to communicate with new communities.
- Identify a genre of texts that you want to analyze and compare. The texts can be anything that is accessible to you: marketing materials, student essays, cover letters, resumes, advertisements, web pages, posts to social media outlets, e-mails, official statements, sacred texts, and so on.
- Identify at least two different cultural or social contexts in which you can find this genre of texts. These contexts can be different cultures or countries, or they can be different age groups, religious communities, or genders.
- Collect a sample of texts from each community that you can analyze and compare. You may work in groups to collect the texts. However, you will analyze the texts and write the essay individually. Do not use texts that you have written yourself. Obtain permission to use texts from the authors of any texts that are not public. The texts must be written in English so that everyone in your group can use them and your professor can read them.
- Study the texts closely and note their similarities and differences. Use “Questions to Ask about Your Texts” to help you.
- Make an argument (thesis) for how the texts’ similar and/or different features are influenced by their respective cultural or social contexts and rhetorical situations.
- Write your essay. In your essay, be sure to include the following:
o Thesis: Claim + Reason. The thesis should make a statement about the kind(s) of significant differences and/or similarities you see in the texts and the ways that these are related to their rhetorical contexts (HOW are they similar/different & WHY they are similar/different). Ultimately, the HOW + WHY should reveal something new and interesting about the texts and their rhetorical contexts.
o Supporting paragraphs. Each paragraph should have:
- A topic sentence that states what you will demonstrate in the paragraph.
- Examples from the texts to support your argument.
- Explanation for how the examples provide this support.
Your paper should be 4-6 pages long, and it should follow the same MLA format and style as the first two essays. No works cited page is required UNLESS you include published or official documents among those you collect for analysis. Consult with me if you are uncertain about whether to document a source. Copies of your sources must be included.
Here are some examples of the kinds of texts & contexts you could compare and analyze.
- e-mail exchanges from professors at an American university and a Kuwaiti university
- Facebook posts by a person in her teens and a person in her 60s
- e-mail messages between parents and children from the U.S. and from China
- newspaper stories from a Mexican newspaper and an American newspaper
- sermons or websites from/for a Catholic church and a Baptist church, or a Christian church of any denomination and a Mosque or Muslim organization
- Websites or student newspapers (online) from UD and from an historically black college or university (HBCU).
- Creation stories from two different cultural or religious traditions
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