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CONTEXT

•context - anything beyond


the specific words of a
literary work that may be
relevant to understanding the
meaning. Contexts may be
economic, social, cultural,
historical, literary,
• Context is the background,
environment, setting, framework, or
surroundings of events or occurrences.
Simply, context means circumstances
forming a background of an event, idea
or statement, in such a way as to
enable readers to understand
the narrative or a literary piece. It is
necessary in writing to provide
• Whenever writers use a quote or a
fact from some source, it becomes
necessary to provide their readers
some information about the source,
to give context to its use. This
piece of information is called
context. Context illuminates the
meaning and relevance of the text,
and may be something cultural,
BIOGRAPHIC
AL CONTEXT
biographical
context/authorial context
• -places a particular literary work within the
context of the author’s life. Consider the
circumstances under which the literary
work was written. While exploring
biographical context, useful sources
include biographies of the author,
autobiographies or memoirs by the author
or by people who knew him or her, and
critical works that give close attention to
• To say that authors write from their own
experiences is an exaggeration (imagination
is important, too), but their lives always
influence their work in some way. That
does not mean, however, that the author
identifies with the main character or even
the narrator in a novel or the speaker in a
poem, or that the events or experiences he
or she describes actually happened and the
• Authorial context connects a
particular work to the author’s
life. Did it come at the beginning of
his or her career, in the middle, or
at the end? Had that career so far
been successful or not? In some
cases, one book represents the
• Consider the circumstances
under which a work was written.
What was going on in the
author’s life? What personal
circumstances, or specific
event, either at the time of
composition or in the past,
•  In short, how does this work fit into
the author’s life and what influence did
that life have on it? While exploring
biographical context, useful sources
include biographies of the author,
autobiographies or memoirs by the
author or by people who knew him
or her, and critical works that give
Example: The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Slave: Jim
Mark Twain’s father
owns slaves.
LINGUISTIC
CONTEXT
- discourse that
surrounds a language
unit and helps to
determine its
SOCIOCULTUR
AL CONTEXT
It is evident when literary works
respond in some way to the
society in which they were
written, and most often (though
not always) that response takes
the form of criticism.
Sociocultural context is about
how a particular literary work
Sources you might investigate
include works (books and articles) of
history or sociology that talk about
the strengths, weaknesses, and
changes occurring in the society
during the period in which the
literary work is set, and critical
works that emphasize the connection