Use the research databases in this guide to find author, background, and contextual information.
Answer these questions about the author:
What is the author’s background (e.g., country of origin, socio-economic status, ethnicity, religion, etc...)?
What are his or her qualifications to write this text (e.g., scientist, novelist,journalist, scholar, philosopher, etc...)?
At what point in his or her career the text was written? What was the impact of the text on the author’s career or public life?
What are the key dates for this author and work?
Answer these questions to contextualize the author and his / her work:
Discuss the text’s geographical, historical, & cultural location (e.g., American civil rights movement, European labor movement, ancient Greek philosophical schools).
Explain any issues that are particularly relevant to the text, either because they were significant at the time it was written or because they feature in the text itself (e.g., Cuban missile crisis, U.S. “war on drugs,” public controversies, etc...).
What is the genre of the text (e.g., novel, popular science writing, scholarly treatise, philosophical reflection) & its intended audience (e.g., the general reading public, academics, scientists, philosophers, the upper classes, workers)?
What was the text intended to do (e.g., convince people of something,document history, move people to action, strengthen a community)?
If it’s a recent text, summarize critical reception of the book (book reviews in major publications).