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Lyndsi Grose

Professor John Chrisman


ENC1102
19 February 2015
Focused Analysis
In my discourse community, cheerleading, there are several different genres.
Noted by John Swales in his article about discourse communities, he considers genres be
one of the most important parts. Through all the different genres that were involved in my
high school cheerleading team, we were able to accomplish different goals. There are
several different items that were used such as a skills chart, newsletters, social media
groups and pages, but the one that I will choose to research further is the essential new
member packet. Looking further at my specific genre, we can look at the activity system
triangle, introduced by Kain and Wardle, to analyze the genre more deeply. We can also
use Ann Johns lenses to look at it in a more complex and deeper way.
Identifying Genres
The new member packet is introduced at the beginning of every year during the
first cheerleading meeting. This meeting is held for anyone who has passed tryouts and is
now considered a cheerleader on the varsity team. Breaking it down into sections, there
are a few major parts that make up the packet. These are the expectations for the
upcoming season, expected costs, calendar, and contact information. The expectations
that are presented in the new member packet basically outline characteristics that each
cheerleader must meet in order to maintain and withhold their spot on the team. There are
certain basic skills that are necessary in order to be on the team (which most athletes

already have if they have passed tryouts), a GPA requirement that must be sustained
throughout the season, and also certain disciplinary expectations. As a member of the
squad, we are expected to act in a certain appropriate way. For example, no inappropriate
social media posts are allowed, and we are expected to stay out of any disciplinary
trouble at school. If we were to get in trouble at school (i.e detention, or referrals) we
would get demerits, which would eventually get us kicked off the team. The next part of
the new member packed is the expected costs. This basically outlines all the monetary
costs, such as uniforms, competitions, or practice wear that will all be included in the
final cost of the season. Also, the athletes are required to put in a lot of time and effort
when participating with the team, so that is a cost for them as well. The following part of
the packet is the calendar. This yearly calendar presents all the times and dates for any
events that the cheerleader will have to be required to attend. This includes practices and
times, school events, sporting events, charity events, and competitions. This is especially
helpful to have all the dates already planned and laid out for us that way we can plan in
advance. Last, there is a list of all contact information that we will need. This includes
coaches, team moms, athletic directors, etc. Basically anyone we should ever need to get
in touch with at any time during the season.
Tracing Genres Using Activity Theory
After reading Activity Theory: An Introduction for the Writing Classroom by
Donna Kain and Elizabeth Wardle, one being the author of our textbook, I learned about
activity theory. Activity theory helps you consider what a particular group is trying to
accomplish, how it has gone about trying to accomplish that work in the past, and how it
is doing so now (Wardle 273). The authors present this idea of an activity system

through a diagram of a triangle, showing all the different parts. These parts consist of
tools, motive, division of labor, community, rules, and subject. If I analyze any genre in
my discourse community using these parts, I would be able to understand how each
interacts with my discourse community and the other different elements of the triangle. I
would consider my genre of the new member packet to fall under the category of tool. It
is used at the beginning of the year to outline and present several different aspects of the
team up front. It corresponds with the rules of the discourse community, because
obviously if there were different rules they would have been stated under the expectations
in the packet. It affects division of labor because the coach and/or athletic director would
be the people composing and presenting this packet to the new members. The teammates
are the people who are reading the new member packet and interacting. The new member
packet as a tool also affects the motives of the team. If the packet were to have different
expectations for the season overall, the motives probably would not be the same either.
For example, if as teammates we were expected to have certain skills or have certain
conduct, the motive would be to win based off of those skills and maintain good
reputation in school.
Using Lenses to Analyze Genres
Ann Johns, a popular linguist, looks at discourse communities, a concept from
John Swales, and analyzes the concept a little bit deeper. She takes a look at the
value systems, authority structures, conflicts that arise, and a few
other things. Overall, she gives readers a couple different lenses to
look at discourse communities. They are authority, values, identity,
cost, change over time, and gatekeeping. When using the example of

my genre, the new member packet, I am able to use Johns lenses to


analyze more thoroughly. For the sole purpose of this assignment, I will
not use all lenses to analyze my genre, but rather stick to a set of
three. I will look at change over time, identity, and gatekeeping.
First, we can take a look at identity. (RQ) What kind of identity does
the handbook value and how effective are current gatekeeping measures at selecting
members who embody or adapt to that identity? The team created their identity
through all of the expectations, not only skill wise but academically as
well. We created a reputation at our school to be well-educated and
classy girls with high GPAs and little to no disciplinary history. I truly
believe that because of the set expectations outlined in the packets at
the beginning of the year, we knew what was expected of us and could
use it as a reference for the whole season. We also created an identity
to be known as very involved and well-trained athletes. We practiced
several times a week, sometimes even twice a day (before school and
after), which was also outlined in the packet. Also, several of our team
members participated in other sports at our school.
The second lense we can use to look at this genre would be
gatekeeping. The new member packet at the beginning of each year
let us know what was expected of us physically and academically, as
well as how cost we would have to be putting in all year long. The new
member packet was an example of gatekeeping because girls who did
not meet the athletic skill requirement were not going to be considered

a part of our team. Looking at grades, if a cheerleaders GPA fell below


the requirement, you would be technically disqualified and no longer
considered a part of the team. Sometimes, however, grades change
throughout the semester and year. In this case, the athlete would
probably be made an alternate, or receive demerits which would
eventually lead to being kicked off the team. The same rule would
apply if you got in any disciplinary trouble with the school. You would
no longer be allowed to participate in cheerleading, depending on the
severity of the disciplinary action and how many demerits one would
receive. A detention is not appropriate if you wanted to maintain a
solid spot on the team, however it would be worse for one to receive a
referral or out of school suspension. Also, if an athlete did not have the
required skills, or got hurt during the season, they would most likely
become an alternate as well.

Works Cited (MLA)


Kain, Donna and Elizabeth Wardle. Activity Theory: An Introduction for the
Writing Classroom. Writing About Writing. 2nd ed. Eds. Elizabeth
Wardle and Doug Downs. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 273283. Print.