The first step in understanding a text is being able to interpret what kind of text we are reading.  How, for example, does a historical text differ from a piece of historical revisionism?  Or how does satire differ from irony?  Knowing the kind of text we are reading provides an insight into the intention of the author, and author intention is key to understanding the various texts we read.

Colorful Book Spines

The Principles of Heuristics

The primary objective of evaluating a text is to try and understand what the intention of the author is.  Even in modern journalism today, for example, the “reporting of facts” is very often imbued with bias, or a particular worldview ideology.  A keen critical reader, therefore, will never simply read a text at face value, but will always try to get at both the style or type of text one is reading, and what the intention of the author is.

Author's Purpose...

The primary task of heuristic evaluation is to understand the author’s purpose.


Is it to get us to buy something?  Is it to get us to change our mind--and if so, from what to what?  Is it purely to entertain, or is there some ulterior motive beneath the appearance of entertainment?


The following guide will help you get a handle on some of the issues involved in determining an author’s purpose or intention:

Further Reading

Introduction to Satire

Corfield: Living Histories