Prof. Makes International Talk

Prof. Makes International Talk

York Adjunct Professor Jillian Abbott is an inspiration for her students.

The title of the international presentation at Bath Spa University was, “Whose Story Gets Told: How teachers, publishers and other gatekeepers can help ensure more voices are heard,” and according to Abbott, “Writing and producing artifacts for the web has, to some extent, democratized storytelling so that people who are often underrepresented can have their voice heard.”

She says that “as teachers, we can help with this process of amplifying unheard voices and stories.”

The busy English professor says members of the academy, publishers, TV producers et al, “can help elevate these unheard and under-represented voices and stories. The conference (“MIX 2021: Amplified Publishing), was a four-day virtual conference “that explores the intersection of writing and technology, bringing together people to think and talk"

And Abbott, who came to the United States as an adult from Australia, lives what she speaks by supporting her diverse students, providing them opportunities to be seen and heard not just in her classroom, but beyond those walls and way beyond York’s campus.

For the Bath Spa University conference, she invited English major Shaquille Proffitt, a prolific upper senior scholar with an enviable list of accomplishments; and Autumn Matthews, a Journalism student/Pandora’s Box editor, to make their own presentation, a joint-effort poem/video to underscore her point. She even sought funding for their registration fees.

Asked why she chose to participate in the conference, Abbott explained that Bath Spa University's School of Creative Industries, “is very innovative and influential in Creative Writing programs.” They produce the MIX Conference every two years. Abbott usually attends in-person and says they are quick to adopt, research, and teach about writing and storytelling opportunities that have arisen from technology - the internet, social media etc.

The York students came from Abbott’s Writing for Electronic Media (ENG-384) class and shared a video created by Proffitt and classmate Matthews. Abbott recalled that it “blew them away. They loved Shaquille. We got the most questions.”

Abbott says that presentations such as this benefit students and that it is important to give them these kinds of exposure. And the exposure couldn’t have been more powerful as the students’ poem demonstrate here in this video

“It is always good to have an international presentation on your resume,” says Abbott. “The process of writing such a powerful poem and then using media to amplify it is a great experience that they can take into their professional lives. This video came out of ENG 384. Most of the students in this class are focused on creative writing, journalism, English majors, or communication. Learning how various platforms work and about social media and the potential to use it for storytelling, is very valuable. Some of my old students have told me they got jobs out of this class.”

The presentation was on pedagogy, and Abbott thinks professors can say anything they want. What matters, she says, is how the students respond and articulate their experience, and the work students produce in class. “I thought that my students could speak to my pedagogy, much more effectively than I could,” she reflects.

In addition to her teaching, presenting and other pursuits, Professor Abbott, has an Instagram blog with 20,000 + followers. She calls it a food blog; but says that “while on the surface it is about food, each food photo comes with a 350-400-word column that explores migration, memory, identity, nostalgia for home, and other themes. I have presented about it at past MIX conferences and have learned so much about how to run a successful social media site from MIX.”

It is @TheMindfulMouth and called, "A Year of Mindful Eating: Food stories that take you home."