The importance of authorial context
By sarah holmes
Created 2 years ago
A lesson looking at why it is often important to know some authorial context for literary non-fiction texts such as autobiographies, letters and diary entries.
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- The Importance of authorial context when
- looking at Literary Non-fiction texts
Slide 2 - The importance of authorial context
- A lesson exploring how the authorial context contributes to meaning in literary non-fiction texts
Slide 3 - Lesson Objectives.By the end of this lesson you will:
- Know what is meant by the term authorial context
- Understand how and why knowing the authorial context is important when looking at Literary Non-fiction texts
- Be able to use the authorial context of Literary Non-fiction texts to explore deeper layers of meaning
Slide 4 - What do we mean by the authorial context?
- The term authorial context refers to:
- Who the author is
- What the author’s concerns, interests, values etc. . are
- What their connection to the topic is
- When the author was writing
- Why this author is writing about this topic
Slide 5 - What aspects of authorial context create meaning?
- The writer’s relationship to the topic
- The writer’s social, historical, political context
- The writer’s attitudes and values
- The reasons that the writer is writing about the topic
- All of these affect the way the writer presents the topic in terms of their interpretation of the topic which can be identified through their language choices
Slide 6 - Who wrote what?Can you match the correct author to each text extract?
Slide 7 - Who wrote what?Can you match the correct author to each text extract?
Slide 8 - Who wrote what?Can you match the correct author to each text extract?
Slide 9 - How much meaning can we get from a Literary non-fiction text without knowing the authorial context?
- It is now deemed politically correct to revel in and be proud of your background, but in my case and that of many others, I believe this approach is overstated and possibly harmful. Although I had to listen to others’ moronic jibes of ‘Chink’ and the like, I always felt English to the core. When I did find out about Malaysia, It was interesting, but not relevant to growing up in Halifax. Being part foreign is a difficult issue for children anyway. When I was young I looked far more oriental than I do now, and I was taunted because of it. Had I had my differences and not my similarities accentuated, the feeling of alienation would have been far worse. What would have been the benefit of me trying to actively celebrate my ‘Malaysian-ness’? I don’t feel Malaysian, I don’t live there, and my ethnic origin never impinges on my everyday life.
- Writer is challenging the view that ethnic origins should be celebrated.
- Writer is Malaysian or part Malaysian
- Writer grew up in Halifax in Yorkshire
- Writer was teased as a child because of their oriental appearance
- Writer concludes that their Malaysian heritage is of no relevance to them in their daily life
- Writer views themselves as very English
Slide 10 - What is missing without the authorial context?
- Who the writer is – are they male, female, how old are they?
- Why they are writing about this issue – why is it significant to them?
- Why they come to the conclusion that their Malaysian heritage is insignificant to their daily life?
- Why they feel ‘English to the core’?
- Why they are presenting the issue in the way that they are?
Slide 11 - The Authorial context:
- The author: Brian Moore. Former England rugby player who played for England for over 10 years.
- His childhood: Half Malaysian, Moore was adopted as a child into a family which was made up of several other adopted children all of whom had mixed ethnicity. He was aware of his ethnic background but it was never emphasised as he grew up, apart from the taunts from other children.
- As a child was abused by one of his teachers and spent many years feeling guilty about this and blamed himself.
- His rugby career: He gained the nickname ‘Pit-bull’ whilst playing rugby because of his aggressive style of play. He was known as one of the hard men of rugby. Since retiring from playing, Moore has become a commentator and is known for his frank and outspoken style.
- This text: Comes from Moore’s 2010 autobiography Beware of the Dog in which his characteristically uncompromising style is used to explore the personal and professional events which shaped him into the man he has become.
Slide 12 - Using authorial context to develop an interpretation.
- Now you know the authorial context for the extract, write a couple of paragraphs in response to the question below to show how your knowledge of the authorial context has informed your reading of the text.
Slide 13 - Authorial context and the Anthology texts
- A Game of Polo with a Headless Goat
- A Passage to Africa
- The Explorer’s Daughter
- Taking on the World
- Chinese Cinderella
- Emma Levine
- George Alagiah
- Kari Herbert
- Ellen MacArthur
- Adeline Yen Mah
- RELEVANT AUTHORIAL CONTEXT
- Emma Levine: Is a Yorkshire born writer and photographer who spent seven years during the 1990’s travelling around Asia. She specialises in exploring sporting cultures. The text is a piece of travel writing that celebrates the Asian culture through sport.
- George Alagiah: Was born in Africa and now lives and works in Britain. He is a familiar face on the BBC where he has worked as a correspondent and news anchor since the 1980s. Alagiah is a specialist in African affairs and has a particular interest in the consequences for the world of the inequalities that exist between the developed Western world and Africa
- Kari Herbert: is the daughter of the explorer Sir Wally Herbert. She is English but spent the first two years of her life living with her mother and father among the Inughuit people on a remote island off the coast of Greenland in the High Arctic. She feels divided loyalties between the native Inughuit culture that she experienced as a child and her values as an educated Westerner
- Ellen MacArthur: is a now retired British sailor who holds world records in various Yachting races. She speaks regularly about achieving one’s goals through perseverance, something that we see her doing in this extract.
- Adeline Yen Mah: is a Chinese-American author and doctor. She grew up in a traditional Chinese family where girls were not valued. She was seen as being bad luck because her mother died just after her birth.
Slide 14 - Final recap
- The term authorial context refers to details about who the writer is, where they are from culturally, historically, socially and politically.
- It is important to know the authorial context for many Literary Non-fiction texts because texts such as autobiographies, letters, diaries etc. . Are about the person writing them just as much as they are about the events that are being written about.
- Knowing some authorial context allows us to uncover deeper meanings in Literary Non-fiction texts because we can identify the reasons why the writer adopts a particular attitude towards their topic and see this being conveyed through their language choices.
- The writer’s language choices may also convey their historical or social context which in turn will influence the way they are viewing their subject matter.