Find a Hole and Fill It: What Marxist Literary Criticism Taught Me About Community Building

wizard of oz

As an English major, you take a lot of classes about the text of famous literature. And often, the very first class you take is Literary Criticism.

It’s a class makes you look at the books you’ve read in different ways. You may, for example, find that The Little Mermaid is more about patriarchy than singing crabs, Frankenstein is Freudian, and The Wizard Of Oz is actually far more political than you thought.

The form of criticism I always paid close attention to was Marxist literary criticism because it requires you to dig deeper into discovering the story behind the story. Basically, Marxist literary criticism asks you to look at the book in the context of when it was written in order to identify the gaps and silences.

It’s your job as the person reading the text to ask, “What is missing?” 

This same principle can be applied to the building of a community.

Before inviting your friends or colleagues to be part of your group, look at your industry as if it were a text. Ask yourself what is missing and whether those around you are frustrated by that fact. If there is significant frustration that a certain view point is not represented, then there is the fuel to motivate others to join you in the discussion.

In much simpler terms:

Find a hole and fill it. 

Community building is rooted in people coming together around a common goal, but most of the time people decide what that goal is with very little research and the result is the 50th “networking meetup” that no one wants to go to.

Take the time to ask what is missing from the offerings that are out there. Chances are if you’re frustrated that something is missing, there are others out there who feel the same way and they will show up if you invite them to have a discussion around it.

No matter what industry you are in, there are gaps and silences and there are people who feel they are not being heard. 

They need a community.

You can give it to them.

Go.

Excelsior!

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