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This phrase would seem to come from an assignment relating to the study of a piece of literature. In studying works of literature, instructors will often ask students to reflect on knowledge they possess derived from personal experience and from prior studies in order to evaluate and analyze a work of literature. This is, of course, in addition to asking students to directly assess the text itself.
For instance, if you are addressing a text like Ulysses by James Joyce, you might reflect on Joyce's choice of title and think about what you know about the character Ulysses (a.k.a. Odysseus) and apply your knowledge of the Greek figure to the action of the novel.
In this mode of assessment you might pose questions like these:
- How do the themes of Homer's The Odyssey relate to Joyce's Ulysses?
- What characters in Joyce's text might connect to characters in Homer's epic poem?
- What cultural resonance might there be between the tale of the tempestuous adventures of a minor king of antiquity and the manifold, intricate telling of a day in the life of Joyce's Irish figures in Dublin?
- What comment does the ancient text make on the modern text?
- What comment does the modern text make on the ancient text?
To investigate these questions fully, you would then read over specific passages in Ulysses and identify places where your ideas/interpretations can be identified/supported in the text.
Thus, if it is true that the "incidents, characters, and scenes of a Dublin day correspond to those of the Odyssean myth" and "Leopold Bloom is easily recognizable as Ulysses and Molly Bloom, his wife, as Penelope", where can we point this out in the text? What facts from the text support such a reading?
We might describe the phrase "Fact from the text/knowledge from before" as a task of analysis and contextualizing. The task is to connect passages or direct quotes from a text to ideas that help to explain the larger meaning of the text.
"A successful advanced reader can (1) understand complications in plot and character and (2) ultimately make larger inferences about how works of fiction and nonfiction relate to the world" (eNotes).
To address the task of connecting text to context, it is necessary to deal with both elements (text and context) and work toward solidifying the connection through written explanation.
You may also be tasked here with bringing a general knowledge of culture, history or literature to bear on a given text. Knowledge of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. is essential for understanding The Help just as an understanding of the 19th century Russian agrarian economy is very helpful in understanding the political commentary in Anna Karenina.
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