West Virginia author heads Hughes Lecture Series 

By Emily Salvatori, Assistant Editor 
On Wednesday, March 22, the Hughes Lecture Series returned to West Liberty University with West Virginia author Jessie van Eerden. Her lecture was entitled “One Being Implicates the World: Portraiture Across Genres.”
 At 11 a.m., Jessie van Eerden presented a lecture, and at 7 p.m. she held a reading of her work. Both were held in the Alumni Room in the Student Union. Her lecture was about portrait writing across genres. Later in the evening, to illustrate her lecture about portrait writing, she read an essay she had written titled “Without.” This portrait is one of a collection of portraits called “The Long Weeping,” which will be published in the fall of this year. Both the lecture and the reading were free and open to the public.
Van Eerden, a West Virginia native, graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and the University of Iowa with a Masters of Fine Arts in non-fiction writing. Her portrait “Without” is non-fiction, and she said, “I think one reason why I love to read non-fiction is just so they might hear what is possible for them as writers, whether they are creative writers or not, just so they know there are lots of different ways of writing literature.”
She chose non-fiction to expose listeners to a genre they might not particularly know a lot about and to expose them to other possibilities for them as writers.
The Hughes Lecture Series is also beneficial to those who attend because it gives an opportunity to hear outside voices and learn from them. 
Van Eerden said, “Speaking from my experience when I was a student, you can get kind of in a bubble, a college bubble. You go to class and you are learning, but sometimes you forget you’re a part of a larger intellectual community. It’s good to have a voice from outside come in and pepper your college experience, so you know what you are connected to.”
Van Eerden published two novels, “Glorybound” and “My Radio Radio.” She also directs West Virginia Wesleyan’s low residency Master of Fine Arts writing program.
The Hughes Lecture Series began in the 1970s and was made possible when an endowment was given to the school by Dr. Raymond Hughes, a professor at West Liberty who taught for 39 years. This has given the campus an opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers, most recently Appalachian authors.
Photo credits: Emily Salvatori