Discussing the peer review process involved in the publication of his upcoming book on Charles Ives, composer/musicologist Kyle Gann notes the pressure on an academic author to quote other scholars liberally or be accused of “insufficient engagement with work in the field.” Gann objects that "apparently if I mention a chord on page 17, and another author mentioned the same chord in a book written in 1994, I’m expected to preface my remark with, 'As Professor X has aptly pointed out….' – lest the reader think I am arrogant enough to speak on my own authority, or – saints preserve us! – that I must not have read Professor X’s book!"
The ritual citing of one's scholarly predecessors surely afflicts literary study as well, and is one of the reasons I myself largely abandoned strictly scholarly writing and don't often read it now unless I can be relatively sure the reflexive acts of scholastic obeisance will be minimal or am sufficiently interested in the subject that I'm willing to overlook them. (And overlook them I do: by now my reading eye almost automatically disregards the strings of tag phrases and extended surveys of "existing scholarship" to seek out the actual argument or analysis the book has to offer.) This egregious practice is separate from the turn away from the "literary" in literary study in favor of historicism and cultural studies that makes me less likely to read academic criticism in the first place, although both are illustrative of the way academic criticism came to be more about securing its own professional autonomy than about literature. Still, New Critics and textual scholars could certainly be as pedantic as critical theorists.
I would not go so far as Gann does, however, in restricting quotation of "work in the field" to the role of "ornament to a piece of writing when the quoted phrase is so striking and memorable that the author couldn’t have come up with anything as evocative himself." Sometimes another critic has provided an insight that has led to a further insight of one's own and needs to be acknowledged. Gann asks "if I can state an idea clearly. . .why would it carry more authority if put into a sentence I stole from another writer?", except quoting an authority isn't stealing an idea but borrowing the authority, and sometimes even the most clearly stated point benefits from that outside authority. Moreover, citing what other critics have said isn't necessarily "to flatter. . .colleagues" but can provide useful context that might help the reader better understand an issue or particular work in a way one's own unadorned remarks cannot.
I often think that nonacademic literary criticism would benefit from increased context of this sort, in particular to make book reviews seem less the equivalent of consumer reports and more the participants in a genuine critical debate about current fiction and poetry. This could be done without pedantry, which does not have to accompany all attempts to think critically about literature.