Meanings of Historical Context

By | March 6, 2022

Before proceeding to know the meaning of the term historical context, we are going to determine the etymological origin of the two words that give it shape:

-Context derives from Latin, specifically from contextus, which is the result of the sum of two differentiated parts: the prefix “with”, which is synonymous with “together”, and the noun “textus”, which is equivalent to “tissue”.

-Historical, on the other hand, emanates from Greek. Thus, it is the result of the union of these two components: the noun “history”, which can be translated as “tales of the wise man”, and the suffix “-ico”, which is used to indicate “relative to”.

What is the historical context

The concept of context refers to the environment, be it situational or physical. Historical, for its part, is that which belongs to history : past events or the study and narration of these events.

Historical context is called the circumstances and incidents surrounding an event. This context is formed by everything that, in some way, influences the event when it happens.

Transcend the current look

A fact is always tied to its time : that is, to its time. For this reason, when analyzing acts that took place tens, hundreds or thousands of years ago, it is essential to know the historical context to understand them. Otherwise, we would be analyzing and judging what happened in a totally different time with a current perspective.

Suppose that, in 2016, a 35-year-old man enters into a romantic relationship with a 13-year- old girl. This type of bond not only causes strong social rejection, but is even punishable by law : an adult is prohibited from establishing a relationship with a minor. Today we understand that a sentimental bond between an adult and a child causes significant harm to the minor.

On the other hand, if when reading the biography of a hero from the 18th or 19th century, we find out that when he was 30 years old he married a 15- year-old adolescent, this data must be understood in its historical context. At that time, where life expectancy was much lower than today and social norms were different, these types of ties were normal. That is why José de San Martín, liberator of several peoples of America, married a 14- year-old girl (María de los Remedios de Escalada), it does not cause a shock if the historical context is taken into account.

The historical context of a literary work

When you have to carry out a comment on a literary work, in particular, or on a fragment of it, it is necessary that in this analysis the historical context of it is established.

In this case, data such as those relating to the author, the time and the place where it was written will have to be indicated. In the same way, it will be necessary to classify the text based on the type of source it is, determine its meaning and expose both the distant and the close antecedents to said work.

In addition to everything indicated, we cannot ignore the fact that there are literary works that use the term in question in their titles. This would be the case of the book “The Constitution of 1812 in its historical context”, which is written by Alberto Ramos Santana and which was published in 2000.

Historical Context