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Kathy A. Psomiades

Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Associate Professor of English


Kathy A. Psomiades came to Duke in 2003 after serving as an associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. She served as the director of graduate studies for Duke’s English Department from 2006 to 2012 and currently serves as the director of placement for the department.

As director of placement for the English Department, Psomiades instituted a yearly placement meeting for all students beginning in the first year. She also leads a weekly job-search workshop for graduate students on the job market, offering thoughtful feedback and creating an environment where graduate students can share information, advice, and experiences. At Duke, Psomiades has mentored 9 graduate students of her own, served on the committees of at least 16 others, and advised countless other graduate students through her role as director of placement. She is also a past recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers.

Psomiades’ research in the field of Victorian studies, particularly Victorian women’s poetry and economics, is highly regarded by her peers, and her book, Beauty’s Body: Femininity and Representation in British Aestheticism, continues to influence the field. She received a Franklin Humanities Center/Mellon Book Completion Fellowship for her forthcoming book on Victorian anthropology and the history of the marriage-plot novel.


“We make a lot of assumptions about people knowing some of the basic things about being in graduate school and using the resources that are available to you. Some people know that when they come to graduate school because of the kind of undergraduate education they’ve had, but a lot of people don’t know that. So it’s important not to assume that everybody already knows all of the things you have to do.”

On demystifying the graduate school experience

On how she defines mentoring success

On pointing students to other mentors and resources


“She is sensitive to the personal challenges that can accompany the grad school experience. Kathy’s awareness of her advisees as both students and human beings makes me feel secure, and that security creates an environment in which I feel motivated and able to complete my best work.”

“She gave me rein to explore the field, and instead of catechizing me into already-established modes of thought, she let me develop what I began to see was my own kind of method—a scenario of supportive intellectual risk-taking that is, in my view, a sine qua non for producing authentically important work in the humanities.”

“I cannot count the number of meetings I had where she would talk through her incisive comments on my papers and chapter drafts—comments written in her distinctive fountain pen ink—but those encounters rebuilt my writing style, my understanding of the potential of literary scholarship, and even my mind.”

“Psomiades is remarkable for her ability to adapt to the mentoring style her students most need and for her ability to mentor collaboratively with other faculty.”