Collective Statement on Mentoring Expectations


To fulfill the educational, research, and professional mission of the Program in Literature, we uphold the present “Collective Statement on Mentoring Expectations,” which has been written in the spirit of respect, support, inclusion, accountability, and transparency.


As Ph.D. students in the Program in Literature you are undergoing an intensive apprenticeship in how to conduct original research and write a successful dissertation in the theoretical humanities, how to produce publishable scholarship in your chosen field, and how to best prepare yourselves for a future career—be it in academic or in nonacademic job markets. This apprenticeship also includes training in effective service and teaching provided through the Research and Teaching Assistantships offered by the department; through other teaching or service roles you may assume within Literature and other departments at Duke; through your mentoring relationships with your primary advisors and your other committee members; through workshops and events organized by the department and the Graduate School; and through various positions you may assume in professional scholarly groups, associations, or societies. While the mentoring and advising you will receive will differ based on the circumstances of these roles and the stage in which you happen to be during your trajectory through the Ph.D. program, there are certain shared values, goals, and responsibilities that apply to all:

  • an open and exploratory learning environment specifically aimed at fostering free dialogue and the production of innovative scholarship
  • an ethos of interdisciplinary engagement that supports awareness of the current debates within a chosen field, while also recognizing cross-connections with other disciplines and ancillary fields, as well as with urgent social issues
  • a culture of encouragement and of consistent evaluation, aimed at the advancement of research and teaching expertise, administrative skills, professional development, and the overall successful progress of students through the Ph.D. program
  • professional, collegial, and respectful conduct, built upon diverse, equitable, and inclusive participation for all and a model of collaborative thinking
  • a pledge to academic and research integrity
  • a commitment to the current “Collective Statement on Mentoring Expectations,” as well as to the Program’s “Collective Statement on Climate, Values, and Conduct,” its “Research (or Graduate) and Teaching Assistantships” guidelines, and its “Graduate Student Handbook”
  • an adherence to School and University policies.


To this end, our collective commitments regarding mentoring expectations for both the faculty/department and the students are outlined below. This is a working document that we will revisit each year to remind ourselves of the commitments outlined here, but also with the intent of updating these based on feedback and guidance from our community members.