Linguistic Disconnect within Campus Tour Guide Discourse Open Access

Archer, Benjamin (Spring 2023)

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Prior research characterizes the campus tour as a critical variable in determining where a student will apply or enroll (Hesel, 2004; Secore, 2018). This has translated into motivated universities across the United States, such as Emory University, funneling resources into evolving campus tour experiences (Rathemacher et al., 2011). Comprised of two undergraduate campuses, Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Oxford College, university-originated literature characterizes students from Oxford as inferior using discourses that mystify and perpetuate social stereotypes. It is worthwhile to contextualize this potential disconnect between the undergraduate campuses within the tour guide organizations, which consist of populations of students who have linguistic and semiotic authority in how they portray each campus within the university. 

This study examines undergraduate campus tour guides’ role in connecting prospective students and their families to the university during the campus tour. In particular, the study surveys the differences in tour-guiding practices within a large university’s distinct undergraduate college environments. Using Said’s (1978) Orientalism applied to Jensen’s (2008) construction of identity politics, I first analyze the extent to which linguistic discourses socially separate the two distinct undergraduate environments within the university. I then assess if Oxford College students are linguistically “othered” by students from the larger, more commonly known Atlanta campus through interviews with campus tour guides from both undergraduate campuses.

The results of the current study provide insight into the language encouraged and sometimes enforced in tour guide training manuals, which support othering Oxford students from the university. Interview responses from Oxford students reveal a unique intra-campus pride and emphasize independence, specifically that Oxford students do not aspire to assimilate completely into the larger university environment. These findings provide an additional lens into the multi-dimensional construction of Emory as a university, suggesting that the community of a small liberal arts college survives within large research institutions. Furthermore, observations from tour guides across the university demonstrate the power of authenticity and honesty that harmonizes with other research about the impact of campus tour guides. 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Historical Overview

2.1 One Emory

2.2 Oxfordism

Chapter 3: Literature Review

3.1. The Campus Tour

3.2 Othering

Chapter 4: Methodology

4.1 Introduction to Discourse Analysis

4.2 Statement of Reflexivity

4.3 Textual Analysis Methods

4.4 Participants & Materials

4.5 Interview Protocol

Chapter 5: Key Findings

5.1 Overview

5.2 Tour Guide Lexicon

5.2.1 I Have a Friend

5.2.2 Academically Equivalent but Environmentally Distinct

5.3 Categorizing & Answering Difficult Questions

5.4 Tour Guides and Connections to the University

Chapter 6: Discussion




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