Hope your school years start (or are starting) off well! How do you integrate historical background information into English classes? Is it something you do assess on? Do you find a way to incorporate it into writing pieces? Or is it just a "good to know" sort of thing? I teach both a British Literature and a World Literature course. Both of these classes naturally have a component that involves learning about the historical and cultural context in which each piece of literature was written. However, I have trouble making this part meaningful. I sometimes feel like I tack it on like an FYI sort of thing. As we read I will sometimes point out or ask students to look for reflections of the philosophies of a given time period or something like that. Beyond that, though, I find I don't use the information a whole lot. If a student asked, "why did we have to take notes abou the Victorian era?" or "why did you give us that lecture about the Renaissance if it's not on a test?" I wouldn't be sure how to answer. I don't want to quiz or test them on every piece of information I give out in class. I don't really have time to review and reinforce the information enough to feel justified in testing them on it. They don't really need to know the order, names, and dates of the monarchs during the early Renaissance period in England. However, I think that going through the story of the way power was often shifting back and forth and the uncertainty that accompanied these events is helpful in understanding the values of the time and the messages in the literature, besides for being a just plain interesting story. Thanks for any comments/ ideas you can provide.