USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
I was both surprised and humbled to receive this award and I would like to thank my graduate students for their generosity and thoughtfulness in nominating me.
I’m afraid I haven’t any great words of wisdom about mentoring. My approach has been very simple: I have tried to provide my students with the kind of straightforward and consistent guidance that my own mentors modeled for me. The key, I think, is to remember what it is like to be a student and to recall or imagine what kind of information and encouragement students need at various stages of academic life. For PhD students in the humanities, I have found that it is crucial to grapple with the “so-what” questions, as it is easy to get bogged down by detailed data when working on long-term research projects. In my view, then, a central part of my job is to press students to think about the big picture—both in terms of research translatability and in terms of career-planning—while helping them hone foundational skills in research and writing.
It has been a real pleasure to work with graduate students in East Asian Languages and Cultures, and in History, here at USC. I’ve learned so much from them, and I am regularly inspired by their energy and enthusiasm. They have brought many important new topics to my attention and have also challenged me to look at old problems from new perspectives.