So I'm reading A Princess of Mars. Haven't gotten very far into it yet, but in the first couple of chapters he deals with some hostile natives of both an earthling and Martian variety. So I'm sitting there pondering the broader cultural narrative that these depictions of native people fit into, what statements the overall work is making as opposed to the specific character, what points of view the work is privileging and what it's trying to shut down, and how complete that process is. I took that class last semester and I've already forgotten the relevant terminology, so that should tell you something.
I do enjoy this kind of thing, and I can have fun talking about it. I'm not one of those people who complains that now I know deconstructionism I "can't turn it off," because I can't "turn off" thinking about stuff no matter what tools I have to do it with. A Princess of Mars isn't actually a very good book to do this with, of course, at least out the bits that I've done so far; with straightforwardly negative depictions of a group like that pretty much all you can do is comment on what it means that Burroughs can grab this group and present them as straight up bad-guys without a whole lot of modification. I'm hopeful that the handling of the natives of Mars will provide some counterpoints to that initial sequence.
But my basic approach to the whole thing is "intellectual toy." I'm at least as interested in the technical aspects of how Burroughs is telling his story as I am in any of the literary criticism buzzwords I can attach to it. I'm more interested in just reading the damn book than I am either of those two things. I can enjoy a good bit of lit crit, but then I get bored and want to go find something else to do.
A lot of people with similar interests and academic proclivities don't feel this way; they take these ideas very seriously, think about them a lot, and feel that they're making an important contribution to the country's political and intellectual discourse by studying them. Which I don't think is untrue, exactly, it's just not my attitude towards those ideas at all. I can't summon the necessary passion, or maintain the long term interest. They're toys. And not even particularly engaging ones at that.