Understanding context video

Duration: 5 minutes 24 seconds

Understanding context video

Mr McSkimming – Hello and welcome to Planet Literature. Today, we'll be examining the concept of context.

Mr McSkimming – What is context? How does it work? What does it mean? Let's consult the ancient context oracle for a definition. [holds a flashlight on a dictionary] It's not actually an ancient oracle. It's just a dictionary. [reads from dictionary] "Context refers to the factors outside the text that shape its meaning. This means our own experiences and knowledge influence how we create texts, and how we respond to them. Context is impossible to escape, but we must recognize that it is there." Can you see it? Can you see the context? No, me neither.

Mr McSkimming – Luckily, I've brought this context detector helmet to help us out. I'll just program it to detect and take me to the context of an author. [programs helmet and places it on his head] There, that ought to do it. Let the context detecting begin! According to my helmet, we've just landed in the year 1917, where famous Australian writer Norman Lindsay is penning the children's classic "The Magic Pudding" Let's take a look.

[Mr Lindsay is sitting at a table in an empty room writing and reading]

Norman Lindsay (Erin) – The magic pudding is a pie, except when it's something else like a steak or a jam doughnut or an apple dumpling or whatever its owner wants it to be and never runs out. No matter how many slices you cut there's always something left over. It's magic!

Mr McSkimming – See how the author's context, the time, place, and culture in which he lives, is shaping the composition of his text? He lives in 1917, when the First World War was on and life was hard and hungry. Just look around, there are hardly any treats in this time. Hardly any food, hardly any sugar, hardly any butter just lumps of stale old bread. No wonder Mr Lindsay decided to write a book about a delicious sugary sweet that keeps becoming whole even after you take a bite! [takes a bite from a stale bread stick]

Oh, I think I broke a tooth! Let's use our helmet to take us to the context of our reader now.

[presses buttons and helmets and transports to another setting]

According to my context detector helmet we've just arrived in modern-day Australia where a reader is responding to Mr Lindsay's "The Magic Pudding".

[Reannah is sitting in a colourful bedroom reading The Magic Pudding at her desk. A bowl and bag of lollies are sitting on the desk]

Reannah – A pudding that keeps refilling? I mean, it's not that amazing. It's just like how this bowl of sweets keep refilling. [tips bag of lollies into bowl] If I wanted something that never ran out, I’d want battery power for my smartphone that never ran out. [points to phone]

Mr McSkimming – See how this reader's context, the fact that she is a person living comfortably in modern-day Australia and has plenty of treats available to her is shaping how she reacts to the text?

Reannah - Yeah, I'm really not amazed by this book. I can have sweets any time I want.

Father (Erin) – [enters bedroom] That's enough lollies, mate. They'll rot your teeth! Eat some vegetables instead. [walks out, taking lollies away]

Reannah - Hey! No, don't! Aw, man. I could really do with a magic pudding right now.

Mr McSkimming – Fascinating! The reader's situation has just changed and so the way she is responding to the text has changed as well! So, there you have it. Context at work. Context of the author, and context of the reader. These two things work together to create meaning. Meaning is never stable. It can change with time and place and even situation [roaring sound]. Oh, my situational and personal contexts have just changed! So I'm going to change how I respond, too! Ah, mummy! [runs away scared]

End of transcript

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Please note:

English K-10 Syllabus © 2012 Copyright NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.

English Textual Concepts and Learning Processes, and Related Syllabus Content © State of New South Wales, Department of Education, 2017 Learning and Teaching Directorate

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