Understanding the details of social, economic, religious and political life at the time that your book was written and at the time it was challenged will bring a new depth to your interpretation.

Social context is the physical and social setting, including the culture, education, people and institutions involved.
Cultural context is the ideology, traditions and values that surround and shape an individual’s beliefs.
Historical context refers to attitudes and events that surround a person, a event, or a book – usually on a national or international scale.

You need to think about the context of you case, but also the context of each of the sources that you use.

Questions to consider when contextualizing a source:

  • Who produced the source?
  • What is the genre of the source? How might this shape its content and viewpoint?
  • When was it produced? How does the timing of its production relate to other events?
  • How might political, social, religious, or economic events occurring at the same time have influenced the production of the source?
  • How might common beliefs or trends during this time period have influenced the production of the source?
  • What terms or phrases are unclear? Is this because of the time period?

Some sources: