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Course: English 1101 Instructor: Anthony Borrero Email: Aborrero@uncc.


Project #2: Literacy Ethnography I. Introduction: “What is Ethnography?” In chapter two of Thinking Through Theory, author James Zebroski introduces the concept of ethnography by stating that “Ethnographic writing is writing about a people and their way of life, their lived experience” (Zebroski 32). Although ethnographic research can be used to study many aspects of a particular community, author James Spradley suggests that in general, the goal of ethnographic research is “to understand another way of life from a native point of view” (Spradley 3). After spending the first half of the semester exploring your literacy history, for the second half of the semester, we will turn our exploration of literacy outward, and investigate the practices and beliefs that define other communities’ views of literacy and how they engage with it. In order to accomplish this, your final project will consist of you selecting a discourse community, engaging with and studying that culture through first-hand participant observation, and composing an ethnographic research piece which focuses on how that community engages with literacy and how literacy impacts that community. II. Assignment Description: For this project, you will explore how a particular discourse community engages with literacy in the following phases:      III. Step 1 – “Select”: Select a discourse community to study Step 2 – “Research”: Conduct preliminary research to gain background knowledge Step 3 – “Engage”: Engage the community through participant observation & interviews Step 4 – “Analyze & Expand”: Analyze data; draw conclusions; gather sources to reinforce research Step 5 – “Report”: Compose your ethnographic research piece

Ethnographic Essay Requirements: While the format and structure of your research piece will largely depend on the purpose you are trying to achieve, I expect all research pieces to contain the following elements: Required Components:  Your essay must focus on one specific discourse community.  Your essay must be formatted using MLA conventions.  Your essay must define a clear purpose for your research (AKA a thesis or purpose statement).  Your essay must target a specific audience or reader (your ideal audience is experts on your topic).  Your essay must provide detailed context to introduce your reader to your discourse community.  Your essay must use examples from your observations to illustrate/explain/analyze literacy acts.  Your essay must use primary research (your notes/interviews) & secondary research (academic sources).  Your essay must include MLA citations and a works cited page to document sources. Optional Components:  You may use images, diagrams, visual artifacts, and examples of texts from your site as aids within your research piece to expand the scope of your analysis or provide reference points for your reader.  If you have additional ideas for this paper, simply talk to me – you never know may be useful.


Please note, while there is no page requirement, your project will be assessed on your ability to fill the above requirements, as well as the depth of your engagement with issues of literacy, your ability to contextualize and describe your culture, your ability to engage with a variety of sources effectively, and ultimately, your ability to fulfill your central purpose.

Course: English 1101 Instructor: Anthony Borrero Email:


Observation Requirements: To complete this project, you will have to study your culture through participant observation. Required Components:  You must complete two to three hours of participant observation focusing on one discourse community  You must take notes using the double-entry journal format (see handout on Moodle).  You must complete at least two interviews with insiders of your community and submit both the questions and responses to your interviews when you submit your project. Your interviews should not be included within your observation notes. Interviews should be separate from your notes. Optional Components:  You may purchase or collect textual artifacts from your community if given permission.  You may take picture, video, and audio recordings if given permission by members of the community.  You may observe more than two to three hours if given permission (observe for as long as it takes).  You may conduct as many interviews as you wish if given permission by members of the community



Sources: In order to complete this project, you will have to conduct research using a variety of primary sources (i.e. field notes, interviews, etc.) as well as secondary texts which can support your claims. Among the secondary texts you can use, some include, but are not limited to, books, articles, journals, magazines, web pages, and other academic sources. While I cannot determine how many sources you will need to complete your essay, I will say that your projects must engage with a variety of sources, and that these sources must be used within the paper, must be documented using in-text citation methods, and must be cited within your works cited page. Remember: This is a research paper. Failure to use secondary research materials within your paper will have a drastic effect on how your project is assessed and may result in failure for the project.


Purpose of Assignment: Although the primary purpose of this assignment is to introduce you to the process for writing an academic research paper and various research methods, this assignment will also emphasize various methods for conducting observations and interviews, MLA citation methods, note taking skills, and of course, the cultural knowledge gained from conducting your ethnography. Due Date:  For Monday/Wednesday Classes: Monday, November 26th  For Tuesday/Thursday Classes: Tuesday, November 27th Please note that this is the weekend after Thanksgiving – plan your work accordingly



Questions to Consider:  Basic Questions: - What is the background/history of this discourse community? - What are the goals or purposes of this community, and how are literacy acts used to achieve these goals? - Who are the members of this community, and how can I describe them to my audience? - Where does this community meet, and how does the environment impact their engagement with literacy? - What knowledge, skill, and interests are necessary to be part of this community? - What type of concepts, language, and “texts” does this community engage with? - What literacy act – reading, writing, communication - are most common on this site? - How can I use examples and textual artifacts to explain how this community engages with literacy? - How can I use secondary sources to expand my discussion, gain credibility, and enhance my purpose? - How does literacy impact individual members of this community, the community at large, and their ability to achieve goals?

Course: English 1101 Instructor: Anthony Borrero Email:

Works Cited Spradley, James. Participant Observation. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1980. Print. Zebroski, James. Thinking through Theory: Vygotskian Perspectives on the Teaching of Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1994. Print.