I confess that I know longer know what "essentialism" is. Or, rather, I'm not sure I ever knew. Is essentialism simply a poor man's Platonism? Is it a general distrust (or dismissal) of ontology? Or is it merely a misuse of ontological language? Whatever essentialism is, most of us in the humanities have been trained to believe that it's a bad thing, like child-beating. Does this situation merely render "essentialism" and its cognates suitable for hit-and-run polemics, shabby substitutes for more substantial ideology critique? Or am I missing something?