You are on page 1of 13

Antinucci 1

Sarah Antinucci
Mr. Chrisman
ENC 1102
11 April 2015
Unit 4

Intro
Everyday as human beings we encounter many different types of discourse
communities. A discourse community is a group in which we interact in the community.
Some of which we may not even realize they are considered discourse communities. For
example if you are employed then your career is considered one, or even participating in
your favorite sport. John swales a linguistic professor has six characteristics that a group
must meet in order for them to be considered a discourse community. Those six
characteristics are a set of common goals, mechanisms of intercommunication within
members, uses mechanisms to provide feedback, containing one or more genres, specific
lexiss, and members that have different amounts of expertise. Opposed to Swales views
on a discourse community Ann Johns another professor discusses discourse communities
in a way that there are six lenses within a community. Johns six lenses that a discourse
community has are authority, values, identity, cost, change, and gatekeeping. These
experts along with other experts I will mention later on to talk about the lenses of identity
and gatekeeping within my discourse community a long with others such as Gee, and
Wardle. Going with discourse communities we have genres that go a long with them.
Genres are tools used to accomplish a specific contextually based task.
The discourse community I chose to talk about is the Hagerty Cheerleading team I
was previously involved on. I chose this community because it was easy access due to my

Antinucci 2
previous involvement. I also believe it follows not only just swales criteria but also
Johns criteria as well. I had previously been on the Hagerty High school cheer leading
team for all of the four years I was in high school. I have plenty of knowledge concerning
this discourse community due to that fact. Another reason I chose to talk about my high
school cheerleading team is because I feel as if many girls today are very involved in it.
I have come up with two research questions relating to the team I was on in the
past. The first question is how (1) do cheerleaders use certain genres (2) and activities
such as skills charts, practices, and competitions to create an identity for themselves? The
second question I came up with is how do girls on the cheer leading squad use those
genres (2) and activities to keep girls from making/ not making the competition squad?
When people hear the topic cheer leading they are always thinking of the types of
injuries girls can get while participating in it, or whether or not it is a sport or even the
issue of girls starving themselves to be able to consider themselves flyers. There are
many things that may come to peoples minds when the topic is cheerleading. I am going
to discuss something rather different then what others may talk about. I will discuss how
the three (3) Scholars, Johns, Swales and Gee define identity within a discourse
community. I will also explain identity in my own words concerning the ideas of the
literature (3) Scholars. I will also present data concerning my discourse community and
the genres used within it. For example one of my genres was an interview with a member
of the cheer squad and I will explain some key information from that. This will help
answer my first research question. I will then be able to explain how all of these different
genres are related and how each one of them can create an identity or they can be used as
a gatekeeping method.

Antinucci 3

Literature Review
There are many ways that a person can explain identity and how it works in a
discourse community. The three people that I felt defined identity in the best way is Gee,
Wardle, and Johns.
Gee describes in his article that identity is a way to be a certain kind of person
(Gee 100). He believes there are four ways to look at identity the first is through the
nature- identity, the second is institution-identity, the third is through a discourse-identity,
and the last way is an affinity- identity. It is crucial to realize that these four perspectives
are not separate from each other (Gee 101). Gee describes the nature identity as The
sourceofthisstatethepowerthatdeterminesitorwhichIamsubjectisaforcein
thiscasegenesoverwhichIhadnocontrol(Gee101).ThecaseGeeistalkingaboutis
hisexampleofhimbeinganidenticaltwin.Thishascreatedthetypeofpersonhehas
becomenotbecauseofsocietybutbecauseofnature.Thesecondwayisinstitution
identity,whichhegivesanexampleofhibeingaprofessorataUniversity.Thesource
ofmypositionasaprofessoristhepowerthatdeterminesitortowhichIamsubject
isasetofauthoritiesinthiscase.Theboardoftrustees,theadministrationofthe
university,andtheseniorfacultyinmydepartment(Gee102).Thisisinthewayhe
describesthisidentityconcerninghisexamplegiven.Inotherwordsthisisanidentity
whereitisnotsomethingyouareabletoaccomplishyourselfothershavetohelpcreate

Antinucci 4
thisidentity.

ThethirdwayGeelooksatidentityisthroughthediscursiveperspectiveThe
sourceofthistraitisthepowerthatdeterminesitortowhichmyfriendissubjectis
thediscourserdialogueofotherpeople(Gee103).Heusesanexamplewherehehasa
friendwhopeoplesaysheischarismaticbuttocertainpeopletheydescribeherthat
waybecauseofthewaysheacts.Othersmightdescribeherassomethingelsedepending
onherdemeanorandthewaysheacts.Thisiswhereothersmaycomeupwithyour
identitybasedoffthewayyouact.ThelastwayoflookingatidentityaccordingtoGeeis
throughtheaffinityidentity.Geeusedanexampleofsomeonewhoisastartrekfanmay
cometoseetheirshowsinperson,meettheactorsetc.ThisidentityisThesourceofthis
accessofthepowerthatdeterminesitortowhichthepersonissubjectisasetof
distinctivepractices.Inturn,thesourceofdialoguealone,butanaffinitygroup(Gee
105).Basicallyitsthewayothersportrayyoutobebasedoffofwhatyousay/do.
Geealsodescribesidentityasacombination(4)ofwaysofbeing.Hestatesthat
peoplemayspeak,interact,believeincertainvalues,usecertaintoolsoruseyour
body/faceinacertainwaytogiveanidentity.Geesaysthatthiscanhappenwhenpeople
areapartofdiscoursecommunity.Forexampleafootballteamhasabigmuscularbodies,
theyalldressintheiruniforms,theyusewhiteboardsforgames,etc.Allofthings
combinedmakeuptheidentityofafootballplayer.

Antinucci 5
Wardleontheotherhandhasadifferentviewpointonidentity.Wardle describes
identity in her own unique way in settings such as work places. (5) I think Wengers
theory on identity in this article is very intelligent and very useful. According to her
theory on identity in a work place layers build upon each other to produce our identity as
a very complex interweaving of participative experience and reificative projections
(Wenger quoted in Wardle 288). She says in order for someone to find their identity in a
new work place they must use engagement, imagination and alignment. She defines
engagement as the common enterprise that new comers and old- timers pursue
together to develop interpersonal relationships and a sense of interacting trajectories that
shape identities in relation to one and other. Wenger says imagination is a second way to
create an identity in a new work place. Imagination according to Wenger is a process of
expanding. Self by transcending.. . Time and space and creating new images of the world
and self, entails newcomers, locating their engagement in a broader system.. Defining a
trajectory that connects what they are doing to an extended identity.. And assuming the
meaning of foreign artifacts and actions (Wenger quoted in Wardle 288). The last way to
create an identity is through alignment, which entails negotiating perspectives finding
common ground.. Defining broad visions and aspirations.. And walking boundaries..
Reconciling diverging perspectives (Wenger quoted in Wardle 288). People enact and
negotiate their identity over time Identity is dynamic and it is something that is
presented and re-presented constructed and re-constructed in interaction (Rubin quoted in
Wardle 289). When becoming a new member you need to learn new practices and even
ones that may go against your values and ethics.
Johns like I stated earlier believes that there are six characteristics within a

Antinucci 6
discourse community. The six characteristics of Johns are authority, values, identity, gate
keeping, change over time, and costs. When Johns discusses these topics in terms of a
discourse community she has a more complex way of looking at them unlike Swales
who has a simpler way of looking at it. The most important characteristics in this case are
identity, and gatekeeping because those are the lenses that my paper is formed around.
I believe all three of them have very good ideas when it comes to the term
identity. (6) My ideas on identity are most similar to Gees and Johns. I agree with Gees
two ideas on identity, one being the combination identity, and the other being the four
ways you can look at identity. I really like how Gee creates something called a
combination identity, which is best, used with people involved in discourse communities.
I feel that in order for someone to be a certain kind of person or for them to have an
identity they must dress a certain way, use their face/body in a certain way, interact/act a
certain way, use certain tools in a specific way, etc. This is exactly what Gee described in
his article. I also agree with Gees idea that there are four different ways a person can
look at identity, which is through the nature-identity, institution identity, discourseridentity, and the affinity-identity. (7) You cant create an identity without having a
personality for other people to give you an identity, which is the discourser identity. You
also cant be given an identity without fan-girling over your favorite TV-show or your
favorite character in a movie, which is the affinity- identity. You just cant be given an
identity. It isnt that easy to just be given an identity it takes many things to be able to
have an identity for yourself. (8) I really liked Johns ideas as well regarding her six
lenses. These to me are really important especially in a discourse community.
(9) I also agree with Johns ideas on discourse communities as well. This is

Antinucci 7
because she believes out of six characteristics creating an identity is important. I also
believe creating an identity is important in a discourse community because of Gees
theories on it. I believe that Gee does a very good job explaining identity and what it is. I
also believe Johns is intelligent for bringing up identity as a characteristic within a
discourse community.

Data
Skills chart is the first genre that is used in the discourse community of cheer
leading. The skills chart is made up of multiple rows and columns. Across the top are all
of the skills and going down the sides are the girls names that made the team. After each
girl has completed a specific skill, a star sticker is placed in that box under her name. By
looking at the names at the top you can easily tell the amount of skills they have
completed by how many stars are filled in under her name. You can also look on the side
at a specific skill to see which girls have completed them. I have chosen to use the skills
chart created by the Hagerty Cheerleading coach because I feel it takes a part in creating
an identity for the team. The skills chart is used as a gatekeeper because by the amount of
skills a girl can complete from the skills chart determines whether or not they can make
the competition squad. The skills chart creates an identity by the amount of skills a girl
can complete off the skills chart determines whether or not a girl is considered a good
cheerleader or a bad cheerleader. This ties into Gees idea on the third way of looking
at identity, which is the discourser identity. Other girls are giving girls a certain identity
based on the amount of skills they are able to perform.

Antinucci 8
While researching this discourse community I also decided to interview one of the
team members who holds the position of the captain on the squad. I did this interview
mainly to find out how the team portrays an identity at practices and during competitions.
When creating questions for the interview I went off of Gees ideas on what he calls a
combination identity. This is the specific quote that I was able to use to prepare the
interview questions At a given time and place, a person engages in what I will call a
combination. A combination is some specific way of combining the following things:
(a) speaking (or writing) in a certain way; (b) acting and interacting in a certain way; (c)
using ones face and body in a certain way; (d) dressing in a certain way; (e)feeling,
believing, and valuing in a certain way; (f) using objects, tools or technologies (it.,
things) in a certain way. This combination either can be seen as an active bid to be
recognized in a certain way or can be seen as leaving oneself open to being recognized
in a certain way (Gee 109)I asked Amanda to talk to me about how her team does those
things that Gee mentioned in practices, and competitions to give themselves an identity.
One of the questions I asked her in the interview was how do the girls usually speak
while at practice? Amanda answered by saying Id say we speak to each other as if we
were sisters, we are very honest with each other usually and can be stern in our tone if
needed, but we tend to just interact as large group of close girl friends (Moberg). From
then on I continued to ask her similar questions based off of Gees ideas on what he calls
a combination identity. I asked her things such as how do the girls all dress in practice
or while at competitions? Amanda answered by explaining that they all wear matching
practice attire as well as they all match wearing uniforms as they walk around

Antinucci 9
competitions (Moberg). The interview continued on following this format so I could
understand how these girls are able to show their identities while at practices and during
competitions.
Another genre I gathered up while conducting research on my discourse
community was an interview with my coach as to how the skills chart is used as a genre
to create a lens for gatekeeping. This interview was through an e-mail I had sent out to
my coach asking her questions based on how she determines the skills on the skills chart
and how those skills are used as a gatekeeper on her squad. I asked her to first briefly
describe to me the tryouts and how they work. She explained how they hire judges to
judge the girls to see whether or not they make the team. The judges score each girl then
the coach may make any further deductions regarding discipline through the high school
such as a detention which is five points. Once the tryout process is over the coach then
needs to decide whom she will and will not put on the competition squad. This is where
the skills chart comes in. The skills chart is used as a reference for my coach to be able to
see what girls can perform the most skills and what girls can perform the least skills on it.
Even if girls are at the maximum for stunting they are not allowed on the competition
team without the ideal amount of tumbling off of the skills chart (Hackman). The skills
chart is a deciding factor as to whether each girl is able to be on the competition squad or
not. That is why I consider this genre as a gatekeeping lens for this discourse community.
I also had the opportunity while researching my discourse community to be able
to go in and observe the girls during one of their competition practices. I got a handful of
information from the interview I did personally with one of the girls, but I decided I
wanted to come see for myself. (10) I was very interested to see the answers Amanda

Antinucci 10
gave me during the interview put into action. What I mean as she stated they speak like
sisters that specifically looked for that. I was able to see that each girl was very
considerate and they all spoke really nicely towards each other. Not only did I see just
this but I saw many of the things Amanda went on to describe in our interview. I wanted
to see specifically how these girls create an identity during their practices right in front of
me. I was able to notice many of the characteristics Amanda discussed in my interview
with her. As I walked in I noticed each girl was all dressed accordingly in her practice
uniforms. As I sat there and watched their practice go on I noticed that all of the girls
were all very muscular because of all of the skills they complete in cheer leading. I asked
the girls what values they focus on and they told me that they focus on values such as
leadership, sportsmanship, and teamwork. Not only did I notice the things I listed above I
also noticed many other things. With all of the things I noticed I really got a good look at
the girls and got to see how they do certain things to portray their identities as
cheerleaders.

Conclusion
After all the research I have done pertaining to my discourse community you can
see how they all relate to each other. All of the information given by the experts Gee,
Wardle, and Johns is very useful regarding the topic of identity. Now that we have that
information on what identity is we are able to show how the skills chart portrays it within
the discourse community. The skills chart is used to give the girls their identity based on
how many skills they can perform off of it. What I mean by that is if each girl can
perform many of the skills off of the chart they will be given a good identity. (11) A
good identity is an identity that many girls would all aspire to have. Good means that

Antinucci 11
you can do many skills that a lot of other girls cannot do. If girls are not able to perform a
lot of the skills off of the chart they wont have such a good identity for themselves. With
this being said once they have obtained the identity they made for themselves then the
gatekeeping comes into play. Now that each girl has created a good or a bad identity for
herself they will then be either voted on the competition squad by the coach, or off of the
competition squad. This is how the genre is used in both identity and gatekeeping, which
are two of the six lenses Ann Johns has introduced to us.
(12) All of the sources I have described on the topic identity relate to my first
research question. My first research question was how do cheerleaders use certain genres
and activities such as skills charts, practices, and competitions to create an identity for
themselves? I wouldnt be able to answer this question if it wasnt for all of the research I
conducted with these sources. Basically each girl creates an identity by either the amount
of skills they can perform off of the skills chart, or by the way they dress, act, interact,
and use technology. I have made these conclusions based on Gees articles, and the skills
chart. To further my research I found out through my interview with Amanda how each
girl actually did dress, and act, etc. These sources really connected me to my first
research question.
(13) The skills chart is the main source that led me to be able to answer my
second research question. My second research question is how do girls on the cheer
leading squad use those genres and activities to keep girls from making/ not making the
competition squad? The answer I came up with to this question was regarding Johns lens
gatekeeping. The skills chart determines whether or not a girl can make or not make the
team. This is because if a girl can perform multiple skills of off the skills chart she is able

Antinucci 12
to make the squad. If she cannot the coach will most likely keep her off of the
competition squad.

Works Cited
Downs, Doug. Wardle, Elizabeth. Framing the Reading. Writing About Writing: A
College Reader. 2nd ed. Eds. Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 216. Print.
Gee, James Paul. Identity as an Analytical Lens for Research in Education. Review of
Research in Education, (2000-20001): 99-125. Print.
Hackman, Kimberly. Gatekeeping of HHS cheer. Email Interview.18 Mar. 2015.
Hackman Kimberly, Hagerty High School Skills Chart. 2014.
Hagerty CheerleadingTeam. Personal Observation. 4 Mar. 2015.

Antinucci 13
Moberg, Amanda. Personal Interview 17 Mar. 2015.
Johns, Ann M. Discourse Communities and Communities of Practice: Memberships, Conflict,
and Diversity. Writing about Writing: A College Reader. 2nd ed. Eds. Elizabeth Wardle
and Doug Downs. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 273-83. Print.
Swales, John. The Concept of Discourse Community. Writing about Writing: A College
Reader. 2nd ed. Eds. Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs. Boston: Bedford/St.
Martins, 2014. 466-80. Print.