My Initial Comfort With Theory: A Reflection

As a trained literary analyst, I am very comfortable with a few types of theory. I have used Literary Deconstruction on a number of different texts. Cognitive Poetics and Narratology are two other theories I have used, particularly when analyzing poems. I know how to use them as a lens and they help to shape my arguments when I am writing. I have also learned how each theory will significantly impact how I approach a project. For instance, I have used two different theories over the years to write about Percy Shelley’s Julian and Maddalo, and each theory produced an entirely different reading and argument of the same text. When I used Narratology, my focus and explorations were very different from when I used Environmental Theory. If I were to use Critical Theory, I would be able to assess the text in quite another way, and I could focus on the socioeconomic dynamics between the three principle characters in the poem.

As such, I understand the importance of choosing the correct theory for a project. I also have recently come to the discovery that there is one theory I carry with me all of the time. It has become so much a part of my world view, that I find it difficult to “turn it off”. That theory is Feminist Theory. This not only pertains to how I view texts, but it is also a lens through which I see my daily life. This is a fairly new discovery of mine. I, of course, realized I often employ this theory when reading and writing. However, the idea that we all view life through a theoretical lens, and that it is not something which is confined only to the world of academia, is a recent realization.

My challenge in this course will to be broaden my theoretical wheelhouse and to become more comfortable with theories I am less familiar with. I am particularly interested in learning more about Critical Theory because exploring themes of social and economic inequality appeal to me. I think Critical Theory would also be complementary to my Feminist mentality. Really, I approach theory as a learner, a researcher, and a practitioner because while I do use theory in my work as a writer, I am new to research, and I am still floundering in terms of applying theory to projects which are not based on discourse analysis.

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