A native of Philadelphia, Emelye Keyser is currently a PhD candidate in English Literature and Language at UVA. She earned her undergraduate degree in English and History from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She also attended the University of Oxford, where she earned her master's degree in Early Modern Literature.
At the Cooper Center, Emelye researches models for assessing the impact of public service work – from that done by local governments to that undertaken by the Cooper Center. In particular, she studies how public service centers advance the capacities of localities to govern and operate more effectively.
Emelye came to the Cooper Center through the new PhD+ Internship program at UVA, which is designed to connect PhD students with opportunities outside of academia to diversify their skill sets. Her dissertation is on early modern (1500-1700) politics and literature (Shakespeare), and she hopes to learn more about contemporary politics at the Cooper Center and make connections across time and space.
In the fall, she will be working with UVA's Center for Teaching Excellence as a teaching consultant. She will also be teaching undergraduates throughout the summer and the fall. She truly loves teaching and speaking to other instructors about teaching.
Previously, she has worked in Edinburgh, Scotland, at their government-run museums; and in Oxford at the Bodleian Libraries in their English library and their Rare Books offices. She has also been a nanny in Italy and a farmhand in the Netherlands and Switzerland, as well as a receptionist in Philadelphia.
Outside of work, Emelye spends a lot of time reading novels, talking to cats (she doesn't have any right now, but she cat-sits a lot), knitting sweaters, and trying to coax her garden into producing veggies. She also loves to travel to outdoors destinations; she recently went on a biking and hiking trip in the Scottish highlands with a friend.
She also loves visiting places featured in literature. Last year, she and her partner went to Tunisia to visit the site of Carthage, and she brought along her Aeneid copy. She also has dragged him to the Orkney Islands to see the alleged birthplace of King Arthur’s witchy sisters!
What does public service mean to you?
It means devoting energy to things that align with your moral and social values, and not with your own desires or your personal finances. For me, public service often means showing up with all of my energy and compassion to every class I teach and trying to reach the students who are not the clever bunny rabbits that always have hands raised.