I posted on Lesbian/gay and queer criticism a while ago, so I will focus this response on the post-colonial critical theory chapter that I recently read. I found this chapter to be very straightforward and I had no trouble understanding this theory, despite the fact that this is the first time I have encountered it formally. However, I am fairly certain that I have used this theory many times in the past, simply without the labeling it post-colonial theory. For example, in my American Literature class last spring, we read The Surrounded by Darcy McNickle, and my class repeatedly applied post-colonial theory to this text. Further, I was very surprised that this theory didn’t gain popularity until the 1990’s, as Tyson writes about on page 418. I find this to be tragically ironic, as just as Euro-centrism has historically dominated the world and other cultures; the same is true in terms of literary theory and the selections of canonical texts. I also thought it was very important that as readers and critical analyzers of text, that we understand that this theory is not only about cultures and people that “developed in response to colonial domination” but also about the colonists who did the dominating.
All of the vocabulary throughout this chapter was helpful as well. Some terms were new to me, such as mimicry and subalterns, and others were familiar, like Eurocentric and double consciousness. I think that most high school students learn about Euro-centrism in their history classes, so I am surprised that this theory is not taught more in high schools, or in more cross curricular units between history and English. Further, I wonder why teachers simply don’t introduce the idea of “othering” to their students, since this is a practice that is all too common, especially among adolescents. Thus, I don’t think many would have trouble understanding this idea, and perhaps in turn, applying it to texts.
I found an overlap between this theory and New Historicism, on page 422, when Tyson writes that “the desire to reclaim a pre-colonial past is that is it not always east to discover that past” (422). Having recently finishing my critical theory paper on New Historical critical theory, I was able to make many connections between these two theories, among others. Finally, I loved the last line of this chapter, before Tyson launched into her Gatsby analysis, when she writes, “we can’t resist an ideology until we know where its hiding” (433). This quote has significance for everyone, and I think it is brilliant.