Feedback Dope

The Political Economy of Praise

The monetization of the feedback model has begun to seem to me to be perhaps the single most important characteristic of the post-WWII literary and academic culture. ‘Give me a 5-star rating,’ the Zomato food delivery person tells me after thanking me for the tip; ‘I hope you’ll give me an A,’ a student tells me after only a few classes in the semester; ‘Show me some love by giving my book a good rating on Amazon and Goodreads,’ says a writer on their social media; ‘I hope the students don’t give me a poor rating for not praising their essays,’ said a colleague to me on WhatsApp; Are you the Sumana Roy who wrote “Asp72 of Pro-Peptide is an Important pH Sensor in the Zymogen…”? asks; a Paula from somewhere has quoted from some essay I wrote in my last life – if I want to know more, I will have to buy a subscription or pay a membership fee; I get an email from someone whose Gmail signature declares that they are the ‘second-most cited academic in India’.

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Sumana Roy is the author of two works of nonfiction, How I Became a Tree and Provincials, as well as Missing: A NovelMy Mother’s Lover and Other Stories, and two collections of poems, Out of Syllabus and VIP: Very Important Plant. She is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Ashoka University. 

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