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Context of Production

smash paper 1!


Hey there folks, hope the title of this post has not alarmed you – I’m not asking you to go out and harm a member of law enforcement. No – instead I’m asking you to consider the C.O.P.:

Nope…that’s still a cop.

C.O.P. stands for context of Production, and in order to get a great mark for Paper 1, you’re going to have to write about it. Writing about the context of production can (and should) make up the bulk of your introduction. Yes, that’s right – we are also going to be building up your introduction!

In your  Paper 1 (Language exam), you’re being asked to show your understanding of a text. Now in Paper 2, the Literature exam, when you’re responding to a text, you’ll come up with creative ideas about the use of language, imagery, punctuation, structure…you know the rest 

 And that’s all good stuff.

For Paper 1 however, it’s important that you get the basics straight before jumping into the creative stuff.

And that’s where C.O.P. comes in. The basics. We’re talking Criterion A here (and I know you know Criterion A inside out, right?).

Context of Production is about the five “W” (and an “H”):

Who. What. When.Where. Why and How. And Why  (that’s in a second time because it’s the purpose behind a text and really, really important).

And Why  (seriously, it’s super important).

When you’re writing about your chosen Paper 1 text(s) bring all your ideas back to the C.O.P., and in particular, the why  a text was written. By always bringing your ideas back to the C.O.P., you’re showing the examiner your understanding of the text.

In fact, you need to be so clear about exploring the C.O.P., you can actually write “context of production” (something my students dislike because they think this phrase sounds “ugly”) in your response.

So, you could use phrases such as these:

“In order to understand the way in which the writer communicates to the reader their ideas on (topic), it is essential to explore the context of production which highlights..”


“An examination/analysis of the text’s context of production confirms that…”


“The text’s context of production is important to consider, as analysis suggests that…”

So, for example (this is in response to a 1950s anti-Communism propaganda poster):

An analysis of the text’s context of production confirms that there is a growing sense of paranoia and a fear of the “red scare” that was Communism. The text was written in 1953, a time after WWII during which technological advances had been used to harm other nations, therefore a sense of dread pervades throughout as technology – seen as the future – is also villainous. The writer has chosen to create a poster, as this will enable a sensationalist message to be communicated to the reader through the use of lexis such as “Red Scare”. In addition, an analysis of the text’s context of production further suggests that the writer has distinctly conservative, right-wing views as the cartoon depicts Russians as tyrants, depriving their nation of basic supplies such as food and water. The text (created in the US and therefore displaying a polarised attitude towards Russians) fears change – again exemplified in a paranoid fear of technology – and the purpose of the text is to spread widespread panic across an already fearful American population.

Now, as I continue my response I would bring all my ideas (about stylistic features, structure, imagery etc.) bacK to the C.O.P. as established in this FIRST paragraph. By doing so, I am keeping my analysis focused and demonstrating my excellent understanding of the text.

Download the C.O.P. toolkit below for more help on both thinking about a text’s C.O.P. and writing your smashing Paper 1 intro! 

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