This guide is intended to help you research and write an analysis of a work (short story, poem, novel, etc.).
To place a work in context you need to first understand the work itself and many times the work's cultural and social setting.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact your friendly neighborhood librarian.
When we talk about a text’s context, we refer to all the pertinent factors exerting influence over its creation—including those the author was fully aware of accessing and those present in the prevailing values and attitudes, cultural assumptions and identities, and the “Zeitgeist.”
Zeit·geist is the spirit of the time; the attitude; the general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time, especially as it is reflected in literature and philosophy.
For your major research assignment this semester, you will select, explore, interrogate, research, and contextualize a text (a story, poem, or essay) using any of the following perspectives:
Historical: general information on pertinent events of the time period in which the text was written, along with specific events that may have directly affected the creation of the piece itself
Political: examination and discussion of political ideologies or movements relative to the text
Cultural: examination and discussion of the author’s cultural background and/or the cultural backgrounds of speakers, narrators, characters, events, etc, within the text
Biographical: examination and discussion of the author’s life and its direct relationship to the text.
Philosophical: examination and discussion of philosophies and religions and their direct relationship to the text.
Psychological/Sociological: examination of principles of psychology, psychoanalysis, and sociology as they directly relate to the text.
Comparative: examination of either other texts by the same author or other pieces by different authors from the same era and their direct relationship to the text.