Discourse writing communities are normally based on our preconceived notions of what writing is and how we are suppose to write but once we get to universities we find that there are many discourse communities that are not part of high school discourse communities. In high school there is a set way that you are told is the correct way to write a paper but there is no set way for writing a paper in the university.


Is there a discourse writing community?

Right at the beginning of “The idea of community in the study or writing” Harris makes a point of that during his time at the university, he was part of many discourse communities but was never a full member of one. If we think about this, we can see that it also applies to us as students. We are part of many discourse communities but we do not spend all of our time in one thus making us a member but not a full member. Writing being a discourse community is true and meets the requirements for being one but it is also not a discourse community at the same time. If you are writing a paper for your English class then you are part of the discourse community doing the exact same thing but if you are writing poetry you are not since no two poems are alike and poetry is full of feelings.


“The troubles of many student writers, Bartholomae suggests, begin with their inability to imagine such a position of privilege, to define their views against some “common” way of talking about their subject. Instead, they simply repeat in their writing “what everybody knows” or what their professor has told them in her lectures. The result, of course, is that they are penalized for “having nothing really to say.”” I think that what Bartholomae is saying has truth to it. When writing a paper you would following the guidelines thus making you put what your teacher has talked about in your paper. This doesn’t mean there isn’t new information in the paper but it is just reiterating what everyone knows already. This is the main discourse writing community and what we need to do to become better writers is to find a way out of that discourse community and into another one that better fits our needs as writers.


I think that they are agreeing with Swales description of discourse communities to some degree. “There has been much debate in recent years over whether we need, above all, to respect our students’ “right to their own language,” or to teach them the ways and forms of “academic discourse.” Both sides of this argument, in the end, rest their cases on the same suspect generalization: that we and our students belong to different and fairly distinct communities of discourse, that we have “our” “academic” discourse and they have “their own” “common” (?I) ones. The choice is one between opposing fictions. The “languages” that our students bring to us cannot but have been shaped, at least in part, by their experiences in school, and thus must, in some ways, already be “academic.” Similarly, our teaching will and should always be affected by a host of beliefs and values that we hold regardless of our roles as academics. What we see in the classroom, then, are not two coherent and competing discourses but many overlapping and conflicting ones.” As we see from what Harris is saying, there are many overlapping and conflicting discourse communities a student can relate to. Language is an important part of a discourse community but if everyone’s language is different than is there a discourse community for each language or is there one big community? And if you really think about it, are there really many discourse communities or is there just one discourse community with many specialized sections in it? For all discourse communities relate to each other somehow.