Email Analysis Paper

| February 10, 2017

65 points
Due Wednesday, February 15th
Purpose. This assignment will introduce you to making analytical arguments using discourse
analytic terms and approaches. You will select an email exchange that you have been part of
and make an argument about how the participants in this exchange handle a potential face
threat. Strong papers will discuss three discourse features from the email and employ course
concepts to make an interpretive argument about identities. The paper will be 3-4 pages.
Data. Select an email exchange that you have participated in to analyze for this assignment.
The email exchange must contain at least one potential face threat. There does not need to be
explicit discussion about this face threat, but you need to be able to see discursive evidence of
things that you and your conversational partner are doing to manage this potential face threat.
(You can do a good or bod job managing the threat—it doesn’t matter for the assignment). You
will be submitting copies of the emails so make sure that you are comfortable sharing the
content. Feel free to black out names and/or addresses. Your selection should include at least
four turns (emails), but can have more.
Structure. Since the purpose of this paper is to develop your ability to make inductive,
discourse analytic claims, we will be using a different format for the paper. You do not need to
write an opening introduction. Instead, provide the following sections using the headers in
bold, centered:
Context Description
Dissecting Discourse Practices
Interpretation
Reflection
Context description. Briefly introduce the exchange by describing (1) the circumstances
that prompted the emails exchanged; (2) what is going on in the exchange; and (3) who
the participants are, including identities that may be particularly relevant to
understanding their relationship in this exchange. The context description should set
the stage for your analysis by identifying the face threat that you will be analyzing.
Your should also explain whose face and what aspects of face (e.g., solidarity face,
competence face, or autonomy face) was under threat within this email exchange.
Dissecting discourse practices. To write this section, you will begin by identifying
discourse practices within the interaction, including: specific speech acts (complaint,
criticism, account, etc.), membership categorical terms, forms of personal address, frame,
interactional meaning, and more. This identification should also consider what cultural
practices are active within the interaction, including interpersonal ideologies and
cultural norms for personal address, the email frame, and more. Then think about how
these practices link to identity-work, including: different types of facework (solidarity
face, competence face, autonomy face) self-presentational identity work, and
altercasting.
Having identified a lot of discourse practices, you will then select the practices that you
think are the most interesting and consequential for making an argument about how
the participants manage the face threat. This means that you may not discuss every
single discourse practice you can identify. Instead, you will discuss three that seem
particularly consequential for interpreting this interaction that are directly related to the
face threat. Use specific quotes from the email exchange and then use course concepts to
label them as discourse practices. Discuss how each practice relates to solidarity,
competence, and/or autonomy face.
Interpretation. Having described the discourse practices that the participants are using
to manage the face threat, this section develops your analytic claim about face and
identity. Your analytic claim should connect the discourse practices to face concerns and
make an argument about what they mean for how participants construct, challenge, or
present specific identities in interaction. Consider claims about how the discourse
practices do identity work to establish a particular personal, interactional, or master
identity.
Reflection. After analyzing your discourse, reflect about the choices that you made
during this email exchange. Propose 1-2 other options for communication actions that
you could have pursued to address the situation, and argue which option you would
choose. If you had to do it again, would you make the same choices? Did your
discourse practices achieve your desired identity goal(s)?
General Expectations
(1) Students are expected to complete their own work. Any paper plagiarized from another
student will be graded “0” and the student will be referred to the honor code committee.
(2) Papers are expected on time. Late papers will be accepted but will be penalized 10% for
each day a copy of the paper is late.
(3) BOTH a hard copy and a digital copy are expected to be turned in on time. Hard copies of
the paper will be turned in at the beginning of class on February 9th, and digital copies will
be due to a D2L dropbox by noon that day. If either copy is not turned in, a 20% penalty
will apply. Please staple!
(4) Each paper will be evaluated on the detail, reasonableness, and insight of the analysis (the
primary criteria) and the quality of the paper’s writing (a secondary criterion). Points will
be awarded in the following manner:
• F (38& below): The paper is not addressing the assigned topic or it is markedly shorter.
• D (39-44): The paper misses important components of the assignment or there are
serious misunderstanding of major terms and many writing errors.
• C: (45-51): The paper addresses the assignment and makes some good points but there is
confusion about course concepts, the analysis is not sufficiently detailed, and/or
opinions are asserted rather than developed through argument. Organization is partial;
writing errors occur with some frequency.
• B (52-58): A good paper, one that satisfies the main thrust of the assignment. Analysis
makes interesting points and is reasonably organized. Course concepts are understood
and applied appropriately. There may be a few writing errors but there are not many.
• A (59-65): An excellent paper, one that is largely error-free in writing; analysis is
interesting, insightful and organized. The analysis brings an emotional vividness to
what is being written about; it serves as an exemplar to deepen another person’s
understanding of the relationship between talk and identity.

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