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ENC 1102 Florida International University Avant Garde Makeup Paper

ENC 1102 Florida International University Avant Garde Makeup Paper

Question Description

Capstone ENC 1102 Project

Discourse Community Ethnography MAKEUP ARTISTS: AVANT GARDE MAKEUP.

Assignment at a Glance: For this semester-long project, you are tasked with exploring the literacy or discourse practices of a discourse community that has made an impact on you or one that interests you. You will then write an ethnographic report where you share your findings with an academic audience.

You will submit 3 drafts of this project on the following dates:



Working Draft #1 of Ethnography Report


Working Draft #2 of Ethnography Report


Final Draft of Ethnography Report




Genre: Ethnographic writing originated in the field of Anthropology, but has since then been widely adopted in the field of Composition Studies. More often than not, ethnographic reports (ERs) combine empirical, online and library research, but rely mostly on primary or empirical research. More often than not, these reports include these sections:


What it does


  • Begin with a very brief review of the existing literature (published research) on the topic. “We know X about discourse communities” (you will probably cite Swales and others as you see fit).
  • Name a niche (But we don’t know Y” or “No one has looked at X”).
  • Explain how you will occupy that niche.

Research Methods

Describe your research methods.

Findings or Results

Discuss your findings in detail (quote from your notes, your interviews, the texts you’ve collected, etc.)

Works Cited or References Page

List of sources consulted or referenced (depending on citation style you choose).

However, to quote Seth Kahn, “when it works well [ethnographic writing], does not–in fact, cannot–follow a conventional formula for essays. It requires you to experiment with style, voice, structure, and purpose in ways you probably haven’t before” (176).

Audience: As you write your ER, imagine that you are writing it for the readers of Young Scholars in Writing (“First Year Spotlight” section) which is, as its publishers explain, “a peer reviewed journal for undergraduates.” You could also think of your readers as “young scholars” themselves. Young, in this context “is not a marker of a scholar’s age but rather of his or her experience with discursive inquiry in writing, rhetoric and related topics.” You can then assume that your readers will

  1. have some interest in and knowledge of your research topic (discourse community/discourse practices)
  2. read your text strategically rather than linearly. This means that they’ll most likely skim your report and then focus on those sections that seem most relevant to their own research interests.

Purpose: In academic discourse communities, research reports are used to “share” new knowledge with other members of the community. Ethnographic studies, more specifically, aim to share with readers what the writer has learned about a specific community or culture through fieldwork. As Seth Kahn explains “ethnographers: observe, participate, interact, analyze, reflect, write, rethink, and describe cultures, their members, and our own involvement with them” (176-77). Your ethnography should present a narrative of your research project, your research methods and findings. Your main rhetorical aim is to inform, but you must also persuade your readers that your research is sound and worthy of their trust.

Subject-Matter: The focus should be on the discourse community and its discourse or literacy practices.

The Ethnographic Project Step-by-Step

Your job as an ethnographer is to

  1. Choose a DC.

Choose a DC that you are interested in. This may be a DC you already belong to or one that you wish to enter in the future. In either case, a deeper understanding of this DC’s practices will help you become a more successful member; that is someone who can contribute to the DC’s common goals or perhaps move them to some sort of action.

  1. Collect data through field and library/internet research:
  • Observe members of the DC while they are engaged in a shared activity; take detailed notes.
    • What are they doing?
    • What kinds of things do they say?
    • What do they write?
    • How do you know who is “in” and who is “out”?
  • Collect anything people in that community read or write (their genres)–even very short things like forms, sketches, notes, IMs, and text messages.
  • Interview at least one member of the DC. Tape record and transcribe the interview. You might ask questions like:
    • How long have you been here?
    • Why are you involved?
    • What do X, Y, and Z words mean?
    • How did you learn to write A, B, or C?
    • How do you communicate with other people (on your team, at your restaurant, etc.)?
  1. Analyze the data: Try to analyze the data you collect using the six characteristics of Swale’s DC:
    • What are the shared goals of the community? Why does the group exist? What does it do?
    • What mechanisms do members use to communicate with others (meetings, phone calls, email, text messages, newsletter, reports, evaluation forms, etc.)?
    • What are the purposes of each of these mechanisms of communication (to improve performance, make money, grow better roses, share research, etc.)?
    • Which of the above mechanisms of communication can be considered genres (textual responses to recurring situations that all group members recognize and understand)?
    • What kinds of specialized language (lexis) do group members use in their conversation and in their genres? Name some examples–ESL, on the fly, Mind the GAP, etc. What communicative function does this lexis serve? (e.g., why say ESL, instead of “English as a Second Language”)?
    • Who are the “old-timers” with expertise? Who are the newcomers with less expertise? How do newcomers learn the appropriate language, genres, knowledge of the group?
  2. Identify a particular point of interest or research question.

The questions above will give you an overall picture of the DC. Now you want to focus in on what you’ve learned to find something that is especially interesting, confusing or illuminating. You can use Swales and Wardle and Kain to assist you in this. You might ask yourself questions such as:

  • Are there conflicts within the community? If so, what are they? Why do the conflicts occur? Do texts mediate these conflicts and make them worse in some way?
  • Do any genres help the community work toward its goals especially effectively–or keep the community from working towards its goals? Why?
  • Do some participants in the community have difficulty speaking and writing there? Why?
  • Who has authority here? How is that authority demonstrated in written and oral language? Where does that authority come from?
  • Are members of this community stereotyped in any way in regard to their literacy knowledge? If so, why?
  1. Write an ethnographic report that describes the DC and explores your chosen point of interest or research question. Use the data you collected to make and support your claims (the answer to your research question).

Learning Goals: By working on this assignment, you will learn to:

  1. produce a final written project that indicates a clear rhetorical purpose and that is appropriate for a diverse academic audience;
  2. use conventions of ethnographic writing in particular and informative writing in general;
  3. show engagement with issues of language, literacy, rhetoric, or cultures;
  4. use specific language (descriptive, figurative, with attention paid to word choice);
  5. produce a final draft that shows evidence of a thoughtful writing process, including invention, revision, and proofreading;
  6. use syntax, punctuation, and spelling effectively in service of rhetorical purpose.

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