In her essay “Feminism and Critical Theory” Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak analyzes the relationships between feminism, Marxism and psychoanalysis and how each relates to the field of literary criticism.
Spivak begins her essay by introducing the major points of her essay as well as explaining the interesting structure that her essay takes on. She divides her essay into four different sections, the first is a lecture given sometime in the past. The second is a reflection on that lecture, the third is “an intermediate moment” in which Spivak comments on many of the major themes of her essay and the fourth, according to Spivak, “inhabits something like the present” (476). Spivak then goes on to introduce her fields of study and comment on the ways in which these different lenses of femininity, Marxism, and psychoanalysis overlap and combine to create new ideas within the field of literary criticism. After introducing her different fields of interest, Spivak goes on to illustrate her argument by providing an analysis of The Waterfall by Margaret Drabble. Spivak concludes her essay with a section with reflects on the previous three and ends her essay by stating “Feminism lives in the master-text as well as in pores. It is not the determinant of the last instance. I think less easily of ‘changing the world’ than in the past. I teach a small number of the holders of the cannon, male or female, feminist or masculist, how to read their own texts, as best I can” (491).
While I found Spivak’s essay confusing at times, I really liked the very different structure of her essay and how she utilized older versions of her thoughts and ideas and commented and reworked those ideas in the following sections. This untraditional structure is very interesting and it really allows her readers to see the logical progression of her thoughts and ideas over time. Spivak’s critique and reworking of her older ideas was especially interesting, and helped the reader to follow along in this difficult essay. While this structure may have been somewhat confusing at times, I feel it really enhanced Spivak’s overall analysis of the relationships that exist between feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis and literary theory.