written paper literacy narrative essay amp speech discourse 100

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In this first portion of Discourse 100, we’ve been discussing what exactly we mean when we say “literacy” and “discourse.” While all of us, likely, have more obvious literacy sponsors, such as teachers and parents/guardians, Deborah Brandt, in her paper, “Sponsors of Literacy,” introduced us to social and economic factors that sponsor an individual’s literacy.

After discussing James Gee’s “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics,” we’ve also discovered that discourses are as wide and varied as people are and “literacies” in those various discourses take practice just like traditionally-defined literacies.

As you prepare to write your Literacy Narrative Essay, I invite you to think about these concepts as they relate to your own life. What do you believe are your primary discourses? How have the economic and social components of those discourses impacted your own story of gaining literacy? If you’re looking for ideas, I’d suggest thinking of ways that you felt particularly advantaged or disadvantaged in your journey to literacy. Trace your literacy sponsors all the way from individuals to corporate and economic sources. You are creating a narrative that shows how you developed the literacies and discourses you did, why you did, and what you think about them. I’d remind you that while literacies are often good things, literacy sponsors are not always the ones providing literacies, but are sometimes the ones withholding them.

Organization of your paper will be key in getting your point across. One way that I start papers like this is by thinking about what I want the reader to take away from it (hint: the answer can’t just be “my story”). Think about what you believe about your literacy sponsors, about what’s going on behind the curtains in the literate lives of students. What information or conviction do you want your readers to leave with? I’d also point out that organizing your paper around an idea rather than a linear story means that your paper will not necessarily go in chronological order. You may start with college and end with childhood or even start somewhere in the middle.

As this is a personal paper, you are welcome to use personal pronouns and to share personal stories as they pertain to the subject. However, you also need to intertwine data, research, and quotations. This can be a difficult balance to strike, but I’d encourage you to remember that you’re using data to “prove” or “explain” something to a reader. It’s the written way of arguing your point (along with actually arguing it☺). Finding a tone that walks the line between personal and factual can be difficult, but I invite you to give it a try. I would also remember to keep your object writing in mind when sharing anecdotes about yourself or your life.

Speeches will be a 3- to 4-minute summary of your paper. We’ve talked in class about how writing a story and telling a story are similar but require different things from both the audience and the writer. Don’t just recite your paper; recompose it so it works better spoken out loud.


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