BtD, Chapter 1: “First-Year Writing Concepts”

  1. Describe a real-world situation in which someone has to engage in code switching as they move from one discourse community to another.
  2. In terms of rhetoric, how are considerations of audience and style important when you are engaged in code switching between discourse communities? Illustrate with an example.
  3. How do you think these concepts – discourse communities, code switching, audience, and style – are going to be important to you as a college student?

“Introduction” to The Fire This Time, by Jesmyn Ward

  1. Read the dedication right after the title page. What conversation is this book entering? What larger picture is this book painting?
  2. Read the poem after the dedication. Read it out loud, pausing only where the punctuation tells you to. Why do you think it’s placed here at the beginning of the book?
  3. Why do you think Ward chose to open this book with a description of Trayvon Martin, his death, and the photo of him she describes?
  4. What point is the author making with these sentences? “Replace ropes with bullets. Hound dogs with German shepherds. A gray uniform with a bulletproof vest. Nothing is new” (6).
  5. As described in this “Introduction,” what does Ward do to find “kinship,” to find others who are struggling with the same things she’s struggling with? How might this help us understand why Ward put together this collection, The Fire This Time?

Your perspective

  1. Ward writes, “I believe there is power in words, power in asserting our existence, our experience, our lives, through words. That sharing our stories confirms our humanity. That it creates community, both within our community and beyond it” (10). Describe a time in your life when you experienced this kind of power from written words.
  2. How do you see the concepts of discourse communities, code switching, audience, and style being relevant to the ways we talk about history, race, and racism in America?