They’re everywhere in the academy: young, bright women mentored by older scholars, usually men, who attempt to mold them into their own masculine ideals. Janice Hocker Rushing’s study of over 200 women and their life transformations is the subject of this eloquent book. Using the tropes of mythology and Jungian psychology, the author characterizes the many paths these women’s academic lives take: as Muse for a faltering older scholar, as Mistress or wife, as the dutiful academic daughter. Their resistance to this power differential also takes many forms: as a Veiled Woman, silent in public but active in private, or the Siren, using her sexuality to beat the system. Ultimately, Rushing arrives at the myth of Eros and Psyche, where women’s self understanding and personal development turns her erotic mentoring into an autonomous, whole, and free life, unfettered by any man. These women’s stories and Rushing’s literary and literate framing of their lives will ring true to many in the university.
"Janice Hocker Rushing illuminates how women negotiate relationships with themselves, men, and the academy. She deftly weaves together women's stories, ancient myths, popular culture, dream analysis, and her own experiences to create a profoundly insightful, deeply moving, often hilarious, and ultimately joyous work.... Rushing's astute observations take us from the Ivory Tower to Hades to the Wooden Nickel in Crested Butte, Colorado, and what a compelling journey it is. The stories are poignant; her analysis is breathtaking; and some passages are laugh-out-loud funny...She embraces her joy in myth, color, and relationships; she writes with incisive wit and powerful insight." - Kathleen J. Turner, REVIEW OF COMMUNICATION
"The book tells of how young women in the academic world are often mentored by older, more established men. Rushing uses pre-patriarchal mythology to untangle the meanings of these mentoring relationships for the women who shared them, for herself, and for any reader who might still struggle with similar experiences. Hers is a loving, compassionate account of the challenges, and the breakthroughs and transformations, of women as they reflect upon the shifting meanings of these mentoring episodes in their later lives." - International Association of Jungian Studies
"This is a wonderful book, full of insights about academic life, written with energy, wit, and passion. Intensely readable, entertaining and sharp, it will make you laugh and make you cry. Janice Rushing's original take on women in the academy, higher education, and the predominantly male world it enshrines unfolds like a post-modern novel. Her use of classical myth is brilliant and alluring, and the real-world stories she tells will strike a chord in every academic woman's heart." - Jane Tompkins, University of Illinois, Chicago, and author of A Life in School
"In her final book, Janice Rushing labors lovingly to free academic women from the bondage of erotic encounters with mentors who shaped them. By giving voice to the stories of disappointment and defeat that silence so many academic women, Rushing clears a path that opens new possibilities for healing, transformation, and self-renewal. Rushing imagines a university in which being exists on an equal plane with doing, where heart and head go hand in hand. Weaving myth, keen observation, and incisive analysis into a tapestry of women's stories, including her own, Rushing reveals the many ways in which the mentoring process has strangled the dreams and desires of women. But this is not an angry or resentful book. Rushing wants to shape a better world for academic women, one in which a woman can move on, feel complete in herself without separating from men. She wants to make the university a more nourishing, fulfilling, and soulful place to work and grow for women as well as for men. Rushing makes it clear that this can only happen if we are able or encouraged to stay in touch with our own vitality and not become slaves to the desires and dreams of others. In her characteristic style of wit, grace, and critique, Rushing strips away the academic armor that protects yet diminishes academic women, nudging all of us toward brave new ways of seeing, being, and feeling. Erotic Mentoring is a unique and compelling book that should make all of us more aware of the importance of living a life one can truly call her own. Janice Rushing saved the best for last." - Arthur P. Bochner, University of South Florida