Spotlight on English and Education Ph.D. Student Eve Eure ☆

Eve is a Teaching Assistant for the College Teaching of English course and a first year Ph.D. student.  She received her undergraduate degree from Smith College where she was a Portuguese and Brazilian Studies major and has degrees from the University of Chicago in Latin American Studies and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in Fiction.  A writer herself, Eve attended the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops and has taught college-level creative writing.

How did you decide to pursue your Ph.D. and how have your studies impacted your writing?

I wanted to focus in a deeper way on writing and the craft of writing, and visual rhetoric, race and social justice issues around education and the politics around writing and identity and literacy.

I’ve spent most of my educational experience in English departments.  It’s been nice and it’s also been surprising that I didn’t understand and know that the field of education could do so much for me in terms of my own writing and in terms of my own sense of self-expression in a way that I think it’s brought me closer to being able to just write, period.

Working with Yolanda (Sealey-Ruiz)—meeting her, taking her course and being mentored by her—has affected my voice and my ability to express myself in a way that I don’t think I was able to until one I took her (Diversity) course.  I think it’s the nature of the things that we get to talk about.  Things I haven’t talked about—that I hadn’t even thought about.

I’m taking a lot of courses that deal with race and identity construction and I think within that space of these courses and just being able to talk freely about these issues in a space that isn’t located in characters in my head—some level of expression that I wasn’t able to tap into opened up.  It feels different and it feels new.  It feels easy in a way that I’ve never experienced before.

All good things.  You sound happy with your program.

I love TC.  I feel accepted.  I feel the research I’m doing is valued.  I feel there’s a place for me here in a way that I hadn’t.  The faculty is diverse.  I’m able to talk about issues that I hadn’t been in other graduate programs, or were closed off or not up for discussion.

Taking the English and Education’s Diversity course has been a powerful experience for you.  Can you tell us a bit about it, and specifically share your impressions of the recent “Breaking Barriers” special session where your class met with students from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education?

In the course we talk about issues of race and are open about how we feel in an honest way.  People cry in the class and say things that are uncomfortable.  We allow it all, and then respond.  It is a difficult course because of the subject matter.

I got used to talking with our group, and when the other students came in there was a level of anxiety about that.  We were broken up in smaller groups and I was the only person of color in my group.  We read an article and discussed it together.  And actually, it was really nice. We wrestled with defining black vernacular English and I stepped back and realized that I don’t feel defensive and I don’t feel uncomfortable.  It was interesting how that happened, and how we were all willing to let it happen.

What did this class and that moment do for you as an educator?

It opens me up to the possibility that change can happen.  It is these small moments:  just being able to sit together and talk.  There was so much possibility.  As a teacher, sometimes I lose that hope that it could happen.  I have the idea of it happening, and a hope of what people are capable of.  They are willing and open to have a conversation. As we left we said, “It was really nice meeting you.  This was really good.”  And we meant it.  As an educator I thought, “This is possible.”

Why does this course work so well?

It is a construct of the course.  It is Yolanda.  It is us and our willingness to trust her to go along with her. Everyone shares in the experience.  From day one, there is an idea that we are a part of a community, of a world we create.  She fosters it in the class and we take that up.  Then we enact it in our own ways.  She plants this thing and then the whole class carries on in that way.

Now’s not the time to be shy:  Tell us about your awards and recognition.

I’ve gotten residencies from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and from the Fine Arts Work Center for sections of a book that I’m writing.

Other than writing the Great American Novel, what are you working on?

I’m working on my Ph.D., writing academic articles and non-fiction.  I’m a New York City native so I don’t drive, but now I want to learn how!