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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Monday, August 30, 2010


I've been assigned a junior faulty member to mentor. I won't be able to talk specifically about my work with this person on a public blog, but it should put to test my theories about producing scholarly writing. I know what works for me, but is my experience generalizable?

Mentoring is now an official deal: everyone has a mentor assigned to them. In the old days your mentor was just your PhD advisor or someone who took you under their wing informally. Now it's institutionalized, and that's probably a good thing.


Thomas said...

There is a danger in instituationalization, namely, that mentoring slides into coaching, i.e., that it becomes separated from the scholarly interests that the mentor and protégé share. (See this post for more.)

Jonathan said...

There is a danger there, but the upside is that nobody will go without a coach slash mentor. The way my department does it is strange in that often there is no shared scholarly interests between the two individuals, bringing mentoring into the realm of coaching. Secondly, my dept. ties the mentoring process to tenure and promotion--a purely institutional goal. Still, it's useful within that framework.

nicoleandmaggie said...

I wish I had a formal mentor!

It's much harder for some of us to find and be accepted by informal mentors. There's only so much rejection and radio silence a person can take. And no, I don't know what my problem is (assuming it's me, which is what I do in my darkest hours)... if I knew I would fix it.

Jonathan said...

I doubt the problem is you. I can say that not even knowing you. Some people are just not that generous and will only mentor people just like them in all respects - or else they will use the mentoring process to get an assistant for themselves. Let's edit a book together - but you will do the dirty work and I'll get the credit. That kind of thing.

Thomas said...

My ideal model of mentoring will always be Antisthenes-Diogenes:

"While at Athens, Diogenes heard about Antisthenes, the Cynic philosopher, and sought him out as a mentor. He kept pestering Antisthenes but was ordered to leave. He didn't give up, so Antisthenes tried to drive Diogenes away by beating him with a stick. Diogenes then said, 'Strike, for you will find no stick hard enough to keep me away from you, as long as I think you have something worthwhile to say.' Antisthenes relented and allowed Diogenes to become his pupil." (More here)