how did my community give me my identity
Purpose: The purpose of this writing activity is for you to analyze your connection to your neighborhood and the ways your neighborhood has shaped your identity, but you will develop your own unique thesis and stance. This paper provides you the opportunity to examine how your neighborhood or community has functioned as a context for the acquisition of specific literacies and the development of specific rhetorical practices. By analyzing the practices this prompt emphasizes, students will use writing as a mode of thinking critically to innovate personal knowledge and develop metaknowledge and rhetorical flexibility, as the knowledge and literacy students gain from this activity will translate across contexts.
Topic: Whether we have lived in the same place for many years, or moved from town to town, our neighborhoods significantly affect our conceptions of the world and ourselves. Neighborhoods are contexts replete with their own signifiers and rhetorical practices—ways of speaking, acting, dressing, or other symbolic forms of expression, what James Paul Gee refers to as discourses or “identity toolkits” in “What is Literacy?” (1). Our neighborhoods and home cultures affect our conceptions of community, belonging, class structures, work, and are manifested through the ways we “use language, think, and act…to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group or ‘social network’” (Gee 1). This writing project asks you to analyze how your neighborhood shaped your identity. It also allows you the opportunity to explore the circumstances you have experienced and how they inform your practices as you engage discoursal contexts outside your neighborhood or community, such as the traditional intellectual environments you engage as university students.
Audience: Your specific audience is writing instructor and your classmates, but consider broader audiences whom you would like to effect. How would you write your essay for other academic audiences, such as university instructors who might be unfamiliar with your neighborhood and its population? As you craft your writing project, consider how to organize contextual information so that it effectively informs your audience about your topic, focus, argument, and historical, social, or theoretical contexts.
Writing Activity: Respond to the following prompt with a well-developed, focused essay of 4-5 full pages (not including your work cited page):
Analyze and explain how your neighborhood or community has shaped your identity. Apply James Paul Gee’s critical discourse theories to contextualize your analysis, and support your argument with specific evidence and examples recalled from your experiences in your primary discourse and secondary discourses in your community or other relevant social networks.
An effective paper will:
demonstrate awareness of a rhetorical situation and recursive writing process,
analyze your neighborhood as a context and rhetorical situation,
articulate a clear and focused thesis,
develop an argument and analysis of how your own neighborhood has shaped identity,
demonstrate audience awareness by engaging the sources to support assertions, or illustrate all key
points and claims (including excerpts from the One Book selection where relevant),
apply Gee’s critical discourse theories to examples and cases that confirm or refute his claims,
analyze and explain the ways some neighborhoods are sometimes populated by many groups, each
with their own distinct communities and discourses, and the ways these communities intersect and