thicker critical skin
The future of critical exchange stands at a crossroads. The increased reliance on faint praise, along with the rise of anonymity online, threatens to enervate the free flow of ideas in academe. While Smith's harsh critical style is not warm and snuggly, at least it promotes an exchange of opinions and the production of knowledge. It is time for literary scholars to question their critical affiliations, to question behavior that encourages conformity over nonconformity; faint praise over pointed criticism; anonymity over transparency. Telling a colleague "You're wrong" shows more compassion and collegiality than remaining silent—or hiding behind a cloak of anonymity.