Literary Scholars Should Argue Better

Hannah Walser in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an interdisciplinary seminar featuring work in progress on law and humanities. After the guest presenter finished reading his chapter draft, the floor opened for discussion: Legal scholars pushed for more terminological precision, historians suggested alternative timelines, political scientists offered comparative context that called some of the author’s conclusions into question. It wasn’t until the frank, fun, productive conversation had wrapped up that I put my finger on what had been missing. Where was the praise?

In my own field, literary studies, almost every talk involves some kind of panegyric, from an effusive speaker introduction to a closing moment of gratitude for the power and timeliness of the event. In between, there’s a very good chance that audience members will begin their questions and comments with an expression of devout gratitude. Thank you so much for this beautiful, this important, this fascinating, this marvelous talk!

More here.