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Analyzing a Text in Context: A good response does more than simply analyze the literal meaning of a text. It also attempts to understand why the author wrote the text or made a particular point. Understanding the context of a text is something you do on a regular basis, although you may not always be aware that you are doing so. For instance, when you read an advertisement in a magazine you are unlikely to take as strictly true everything that the ad says. You know, because you've seen countless ads, that driving a particular car or wearing a particular brand of jeans will not necessarily change your social status or ability to attract others.

Similarly, when you listen to a political commentator on television or radio, you're likely to ask yourself about the beliefs of the commentator. You're also likely to judge a text differently if you know that it was written in 1917 rather than in 1997. And you can learn a great deal about a text by asking where it was first published: texts published in the Wall Street Journal and the National Enquirer often serve quite different purposes.

Asking questions about the knowledge, beliefs, and experiences of authors and the circumstances surrounding the publication of a text can help you understand more about the context in which a text is produced. In turn, your understanding of the context of a text can help you craft a stronger response.

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