To begin this understanding of the differences between textual and contextual analysis, we must first define both respectful terms. As stated in the readings, textual analysis is the rhetorical concepts that are used to analyze the features of texts. Contextual analysis is the understanding of particular rhetorical acts as parts of a larger “conversation”. In another simpler definition, textual analysis is the sole focus on a piece of rhetoric while contextual analysis is the focus on the “big picture”.
Now one might ask what is this “big picture”? The “big picture” as demonstrated in contextual analysis is the background information going into this piece of rhetoric. Many questions can be asked to contextually analyze a piece such as, when was this piece of rhetoric created, why was it created, who created it, what was society like when this piece of work was created. Analyzing a piece of rhetoric contextually can help better understand the purpose.
Textually analyzing has several different questions to ask. Since it is the sole purpose of focusing on the text, we ask questions about the text itself. Does the rhetorical piece use Logos, Ethos or Pathos? How is the piece ordered? Chronological? Order of Importance? What is the tone? What message is the author trying to get across?. Answering these questions can help one textually analyze a rhetorical piece.
Contextual Analysis is different from textual analysis. One focuses beyond the piece of rhetoric while another focus solely on the piece of rhetoric. There are times where one must decide which option to choose.