Introducing “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen

Today we will be starting our first of three units for the final part of the IBO Language and Literature course. Part 3 is called ‘Literature: texts and contexts’; here is an outline and summary of the learning outcomes taken from the 2013 IBO Language and Literature guide:

Meaning in a text is shaped by culture and by the contexts of the circumstances of its production. It is also shaped by what the reader brings to it. Literary texts are not created in a vacuum but are influenced by social context, cultural heritage and historical change. Through the close reading of literary texts, students are able to consider the relationship between literature and issues at large, such as gender, power and identity. Students should be encouraged to consider how texts build upon and transform the inherited literary and cultural traditions. The compulsory study of translated texts encourages students to reflect on their own cultural assumptions through an examination of work produced in other languages and cultures. The study of literature—texts and contexts means that students will be able to meet the following learning outcomes.

1. Consider the changing historical, cultural and social contexts in which particular texts are written and received. Areas to be considered could include:

– the impact of different forms of publishing, for example, serialization
–  political pressure and censorship
–  dominant and minority social groups
–  the role of the individual and family in society
–  the impact of prevailing values and beliefs
–  protest and polemic.

2. Demonstrate how the formal elements of the text, genre and structure can not only be seen to influence meaning but can also be influenced by context. Aspects to be considered could include:

–  narrative technique
–  characterization
–  elements of style and structure
–  poetic language.

3. Understand the attitudes and values expressed by literary texts and their impact on readers. Students should be able to recognize that:

–  there can be very different readings of the same text
–  the context of reception, including the individual reader, influences the way a text is read
–  different values may be in contention within a text. 

Our first unit, entitled ‘Victorian Values and Me”, is an exploration of the historical context of Europe in the 19th century (often referred to as the Victorian Age due to the influence of Britain’s monarch at that time). Our unit question invites us to explore not only what literature produced in this period can tell us about historical contexts but also what it can tell us
about ourselves.

What has been your experience up until now?  Have you ever read a novel, play or movie set in the past?  In the comments below tell us what the story is, what it told you about the particular historical context and finally, what this showed about yourself!