Gee’s two theorems (9-11) are controversial. Put each theorem in your own words. Why do you think they are controversial? (10-30 minutes)

The first theorem that Gee presents is that to be a part of a Discourse, in the same sense of being a part of an identity, you cannot engage in the act in a halfway manner. In the context of social grouping, the lack of true understanding of the Discourse will obviously show the members and non-members. Those that can engage in the discourse with enough confidence and ability to the point where they don’t notice their engagement are the members. The second theorem is that Primary Discourses cannot carry out authentic critique of themselves. Therefore it is said to not have any “liberating tendencies.” The second theorem is believed to be more controversial by Gee, due to the fact that people expect themselves to recognize their own faults. In general, many people may find the theorems to be old-fashioned. Gee also goes back on these main theorems in the followed section with “mushfake Discourse.” However, I think a better reason to criticize both of the theorems is the lack of presented evidence on the topics. While it is fascinating to be told new ideas and terms about the world, I am old fashioned in that I require evidence to believe points that are presented to me. Making assumptions and categorizing the world is an interesting intellectual challenge, but I don’t believe there is enough evidence to support such characterizations. Anecdotal evidence is interesting, but isn’t actually real evidence.


“‘Mushfake,’ resistance, and meta-knowledge: this seems to me like a good combination for successful students and successful social change” (Gee 13). To make sense of Gee, we must understand these three elements or concepts. What are they? Support your response with text. (10-30 minutes)

Gee introduces several concepts all at once in his suggestion for minority and female students. Meta-knowledge is the understanding of how Discourses are formed, and how each Discourse relates to the primary Discourse. Gee describes it as being “liberation and power, because it leads to the ability to manipulate, to analyze, to resist while advancing” (13). In this context, Gee explains that meta-knowledge provides ways for people to manipulate their identity as needed to conform to a necessary standard. He also introduces the concept of resistance, which involves the repression of unnecessary Discourses while still advancing in others. In a way, it is like the pruning of the brain that occurs in adulthood. The last term, “mushfake” combines the other two of the described concepts, while also going against the first theorem of Discourse. “Mushfake Discourse” involves that the necessary Discourses are partially learned enough by the use of meta-knowledge and resistance strategies to appear normal enough within the group context. It is working to conform the identity to the mainstream standard while not actually completely destroying or creating the identity. He believes that we should encourage women and minority students to use this method, while not actually investigating the system that creates this need. Gee would rather suggest that women and minorities erase or resist part of their identity rather than create a better social system.

Identify at least one way the students in Jordan’s class might be employing that combination. Quote from both texts and to explain the relationships you see. Use the Barclay’s Formula to assist you in building a Paper Like Thing (paragraph) that builds your idea. (10-30 minutes)

The students in Jordan’s class most likely adapted to written Standard English through the use of “mushfake Discourse,”resistance, and meta-knowledge. Their meta-knowledge can be witnessed in true impact in their ability to translate between the types of English. In general, the terms “mushfake Discourse,”resistance, and meta-knowledge, imply that the person creases a partial identity to conform to the standard that will provide them the most opportunity. Gee describes the “mushfake” identity as being the “partial acquisition couples with meta-knowledge and strategies to “make do””(13). Minorities in particular tend to have the meta-knowledge needed to analyze and interact with their Discourses in the necessary way to apply to the “mushfake” identity. If the students needed to conform to a standard English in order to be accepted by the college system, a dominant discourse for Standard English may have formed. As minorities with what Gee would refer to as “maladapted” Discourses, there would be a chance that the students use their meta-knowledge of Discourses to resist their own tendencies and conform to the standard that earns praise and opportunities. The students would learn enough of the Discourse to read the writing and reject their own written dialect, but not enough to stop speaking the same Black English dialect. Jordan describes the students’ reaction to a book written in Black English. “I listened to what they wanted to say and silently marveled at the similarities between their casual speech patterns and Slice Walker’s written version of Black English” (Jordan 364). It is clear that the students were thrown off by the language, yet still possessed the clear understanding in their spoken language. Both sources show that the students both fit the clear definition of each aspect, as well as apply it in their behaviors that were described by Jordan. The students seemed to fit the definition of the partial identity described by Gee.



The image above shows a text to world application (in orange),  and an extension of the information (green). The text to world looks into the comprehension of language, the extension looks into how the language may be more efficient in that particular written form.

The image above shows two questions (pink) about the text. The first involves the connection to Gee’s main points, and the second involves a specific instance within Jordan’s class. The image above shows a text to text (orange), and a question about the text (pink). The text to text involves a comparison to Gee, and the question is about whether children could lose a primary discourse.

The image above shows a rhetorical annotation (green) of the essay written by Willie within Jordan’s text. Willie combines both emotion and fact to convince the reader of the injustice.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *