For your Project 2 submission, you will write a 5- to 7-page analytical essay that includes three examples of writing from your selected community.
, “How do members of a community interact within or around their community and what writing knowledge is beneficial to ensuring that communication is effective?”
A community is a site of interaction, struggle, expression, and communication that can be big or small, local and/or global, and consists of individuals who share a common interest, life circumstance, a shared sense of belonging, or identity. Individuals choose to be members of some communities, but may also find themselves immersed in others without explicit choice. Communities can be defined geographically or defined by shared beliefs, or can be situational. Most people already belong to multiple communities and have interests and goals that make them eligible to participate in others.
Are people part of communities whether or not they want to be? Yes, in some cases. We might be part of a place-based community (like the city in which we live), or an ethnic community if we share a common heritage with others, or an organizational or workplace community such as the community of educators if that’s what we do for a living. We are also part of the global community, because we live together on this planet. Other communities might involve more choice, such as hobby community of local mahjong players or a Pittsburgh Steelers fan community in the Tampa area.
Communities today are often hybrid, interacting and communicating in both physical and digital spaces – a community may have in-person meetings to discuss important topics and a digital group chat for more informal and casual conversations – both of which are important spaces that have vastly different means of communication and interaction. The Steelers community in Tampa is one such example.
A community might be completely virtual – fandom communities are one example, and so are blogger communities, online forum communities, and social media communities. These areas can spill over into others, as a Walking Dead fan community might exist online and in-person, might have a social media presence, and be linked geographically to other place-based fandom communities who share interests (such as a convention or annual meeting for fans).
Other communities might be identity-based, such as a counterculture community (like the punk rock community in the 1980s) which rejects the ideals of the mainstream, or a subculture community (which shares values and beliefs that are not in the mainstream but are also not in conflict with the mainstream, unlike counterculture), or they might be multicultural, which is founded in the belief that people of different, multiple cultures can coexist harmoniously within one society.
Communities come in countless forms and all of them exhibit a wide range of characteristics and examples of communication. In this project we’ll explore the written communication of a community.
Our goal in Project Two is to go beyond simply defining the characteristics of the community; our goal is to specifically understand how members adapt their writing for interaction among and outside of the community. Just as individuals use writing in everyday situations, communities and their individual members use writing in different ways to various effects, depending on their knowledge of writing – specifically genres, audiences, purposes, and contexts, or the rhetorical situation in which the communication occurs. These concepts studied in Project 1 can be observed in the writing that exists in various communities. The guiding question for this project is: “How do members of a community interact within or around their community and what writing knowledge is beneficial to ensuring that communication is effective?”
We will analyze a community’s writing – using our knowledge of the rhetorical concepts from Project 1 – to explore the type of communication and the level of its effectiveness in the situation in which it is written. We’ll look at the genres used in communication, the audiences the community is trying to reach with each piece of writing, the purpose for each written piece, and more. While we analyzed writing knowledge in the abstract for Project 1, or analyzed how we as individuals understand that writing knowledge, in Project 2 we will shift that analysis to look further outward into the writing that occurs in and around communities.
Begin this project by thinking about which communities you are already a part of or which communities align with your interests and decide on a few you might analyze. Being a part of the community you choose to analyze is not required, but be sure to choose a community you are interested in for this project. Use the classroom activities to brainstorm what you know about the communities you identify as interesting, and let your peers and instructor help you choose.
You will ultimately choose one community to analyze. This community should have accessible written examples you can study and feature characteristics you can define and analyze. You want your community to be specific enough so you can analyze thoroughly. For example, USF as a whole is a community but it is too broad a community to analyze deeply enough for this project. But you could choose a smaller community within USF, like the Latin American Student Association, Pre-Med American Medical Student Association (PAMSA), or Second Language Acquisition Student Organization (SLAQ), just to name a few examples. More campus groups can be found here.Links to an external site.
You are not required to select a community from within USF. There are plenty of communities outside the university that might appeal to you. In fact, it might be easier to write about the community if you are not already a member because you won’t make assumptions; however, if you are a member of the community you might know how to access the written communication of that community. Below are two detailed examples of communities, one from USF and one from outside USF, with explanations that may help you think about the community you choose to study.
One example is the Feed-A-Bull Food Pantry on each USF campus – this community features an online donor wall, weekly surveys, links and information about donations and goals, and volunteer opportunities, among many other things. It has connections to local food banks like the Tampa Bay Area Food Pantries and partners with the College and University Food Bank Alliance. The mission of the food bank is to provide food to students in need no matter their financial circumstances, and this is done by creating partnerships and engaging in communication with the university and surrounding communities.
Another example is that of a previous student who runs a hockey league for kids in his hometown. The local hockey community, of which he is a part of, features all kinds of leagues for all ages and skill levels. As the commissioner of his league, he organizes and communicates all activities about the league to the members of that community – game and practice schedules for all teams, ice time scheduling with other leagues in the community, securing referees to officiate games, liaising with area rinks, and communicating with players and their parents. The community features many types of written communication, including a web site and newsletter, and for the specific league there were also emails, text messaging, player permissions and parental consent forms for team travel, equipment fact sheets and guidelines, electronic and printed schedules, and player profiles or league news written for the community newsletter and web site spotlight section. This community example is specific enough to analyze, and robust enough to provide a range of written pieces for analysis and insight into that community.
What You’re Doing in Project Two
Once you decide on the community you’ll use for this project, you will start by describing the community you’re analyzing – what are its characteristics, who are its members, what skills, attributes or technologies are required if any, where is it located, and what happens in this community? You will analyze its role in the larger world, by asking possible questions such as:
- What makes it a community, what drives its members to take part, and what does it do?
- Who does it benefit besides its members, if anyone?
- What connects members of this community to each other and in what ways does this community interact with its members internally and with other communities externally?
You will then analyze the writing that occurs in this community:
- What are the genres commonly used in this community?
- Who are the audiences in communication with this community, and for what purposes?
- What are the rhetorical/writing situations in which members of this community are involved, and what roles do those members play?