a writing discussion–analyze the reading material

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Try to use simple writing sentence and words, because my writing is not really good

Daniel Mandell’s essay, “Land and Labor” provides detailed background information about the society in which Apess lived.

To help prepare for the RA, it will be useful to break down this article and identify useful passages that help explain the context for Apess’s A Son of the Forest. The goals of this exercise are to generate a master list of quotes from this essay that relate directly to Apess’s autobiography, and to practice applying background sources to primary sources. Or in other words to practice using a secondary source to help you analyze a primary source.

Please post the following:

1) A quoted passage from “Land and Labor” that helps to explain 2) a quoted passage from A Son of the Forest.

Along with your two quoted passages, please also include 3) a quick explanation of how the Mandell passage helps us understand the rhetorical strategies in the Apess passage.

Some rules:

  • Your passages can be 1-2 sentences long, or up to a paragraph. It doesn’t matter how long they are, as long as they contain interesting material that can be productively analyzed.
  • Make sure to indicate page numbers for both quotes, so that we can track down the passages you posted.

  • example
  • “Land and Labor”: “Tudor’s description of Native workways, although colored by prejudice, was accurate. In the wake of the American Revolution, the keys to Native identity, persistence, and indeed their presence in southern New England were their land and labor. Tribes with substantial reservations were distinguished by informal land holding, subsistence agriculture, and reliance on fishing and hunting. Traditional crafts also played an important role, as Native women found a growing market among whites for baskets, mats, brooms, and medicine.” (Mandell 1)A Son of the Forest: “My father and mother made baskets which they would sell to the whites, or exchange for those articles only, which were absolutely necessary to keep soul and body in a state of unity.” (Apess 10)The Mandell passage helps us to understand the inherent value of the Native Americans to the Whites was their land, produce and goods. This means that the only way this family was able to survive and acquire even the basic necessities is by trading their goods. Whites also found value in native crafts, which is why the baskets were able to bring income. This helps us to understand that the writing was a response to imperialism. Imperialism has altered the dynamic of the Native American life, and therefore their worth is now only determined by what they have physically instead of their lifestyle and worth as human beings. It also highlights the way that Native Americans were expected to behave in society, seen but not heard.


No one lives or communicates in a vacuum. Who we are, what we care about, and how we express our ideas are determined in large part by our context: when and where we live, and the social, historical, cultural forces and ideological discourses that shape the society in which we live.

Let’s break down these aspects of context–what exactly are “social, historical, and cultural forces” and “ideological discourses”?

What is social context? At its most basic, the social context that influences a text is anything that has to do with a society in which the rhetor and/or audience lives. (Further reading: check out the Wikipedia entry on “Society” (Links to an external site.)to see how big and varied this can be.) When we talk about social context in WR39B, we refer to any of the following:

  • People: age, gender, ethnicity/race, nationality, education, class, sexual orientation, family dynamics; more precisely, the norms or expectations that a society has for people of a certain age, gender, ethnicity, class, etc.
  • Politics: how power is distributed in society (e.g., monarchy vs. democracy) and ideas about how people should be governed (justice and ethics)
  • Economy: how wealth is generated and distributed through society (e.g., feudalism vs. capitalism)
  • Religion: how people understand and relate to the supernatural and/or the divine
  • Relationships between people: family, marriage, friendship, dating, boss/employee, and so on.

What is historical context? Historical context includes any past event or trend that influences a text. (Further reading: check out the Wikipedia entry on “History” (Links to an external site.) to see how big and varied this can be.)

A text doesn’t have to be about a specific historical event to be influenced by it.

What is cultural context? “Culture” in its broadest definition is anything having to do with the way people behave–this definition overlaps quite a bit with that of “society.” (Further reading: check out the Wikipedia entry on “Culture” (Links to an external site.) to see how big and varied this can be.)

But for our purposes, we can narrow this definition down a bit. When we talk about culture in terms of rhetorical context, we refer mainly to ideas and arts that influence a text. Let’s go ahead and add the technologythat influences a text, too.

Social, historical, and cultural context can seem pretty abstract and distant when we’re trying to figure out how they influence a specific text. It can be easier instead to think of rhetorical context in terms of ideology.

What is ideology? Ideology is any system of values and beliefs that determine how people behave and perceive the world around them.

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