Context is everything. If you understand how and why something happens, you have just understood more than most people are willing to consider.
With literature (and art, in general) an observer should note that everything is written/produced within a context. A work of art is a product of its time, meaning it is a reaction to, a reaction against, or a simulation of something surrounding it.
As we read Martin Dressler, a contemporary novel, you will see something interesting: it's a novel about the turn of the 19th Century into the 20th Century. However, it's written at the beginning of the 21st Century. The author, Steven Millhauser, uses the moral, social, and cultural dynamics of the last century to discuss the moral, social, and cultural dynamics of this one.
Remember our classroom themes: Who Are You? Why Are You Here? Where Are You Going? This novel asks the same thing: how are you any different than than the so-called Modern Age? You can't answer that question without context, and that is why we start with this section.
In order to understand, you need to communicate. Since most don’t communicate in class, we write. Our primary writing response this semester will be a literary analysis paragraph called the 3-C Paragraph. To do that, we are going to have 3 Introductory Blogs that will help you encounter (and eventually master) literary analysis.