York Prof. Makes International Talk – York College / CUNY


The title of the international presentation at the University of Bath Spa was “Whose Story is Told: How Teachers, Editors, and Other Guardians Can Help Make More Voices Heard” and, according to Abbott, “Write and Produce Artifacts for the Web has, to some extent, democratized storytelling so that often under-represented people can make their voices heard.

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

The busy English teacher said academy members, editors, TV producers and others, “can help raise those unheard and under-represented voices and stories. The conference (” MIX 2021: Amplified Publishing) was a four-day virtual conference “exploring the intersection of writing and technology, bringing people together to think and talk”

And Abbott, who came to the United States as an adult from Australia, lives what she says by supporting her diverse students, giving them the opportunity to be seen and heard not only in her classroom, but beyond these walls and well beyond the York campus.

For the University of Bath Spa conference, she invited English Major Shaquille Proffitt, a prolific graduate scholar with an enviable list of accomplishments; and Autumn Matthews, journalism student and editor-in-chief of Pandora’s Box, for their own presentation, a collaborative poem / video to highlight her perspective. She even asked for funding for their registration fees.

When asked why she chose to attend the conference, Abbott explained that the School of Creative Industries at the University of Bath Spa “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 embrace, research and teach the 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 his classmate Matthews. Abbott recalled that it “blew them away. They loved Shaquille. We have the most questions.

Abbott says presentations like this benefit students and it’s important to give them that kind of exposure. And the exhibit couldn’t have been more powerful as demonstrated by the students’ poem here in this video.

“It’s always good to have an international look on your resume,” says Abbott. “The process of writing such a powerful poem and then using the media to amplify it is a great experience that they can incorporate into their professional lives. This video was released from ENG 384. Most students in this class focus on creative writing, journalism, English, or communication. Learning how different platforms work and on social media and the potential of using them to tell stories is very valuable. Some of my former students have told me that they got a job because of this class.

The presentation was all about pedagogy, and Abbott thinks teachers can say whatever they want. What matters, she says, is how students react and express their experience, as well as the work students produce in class. “I thought my students could talk about my pedagogy much more effectively than me,” she reflects.

In addition to her teaching, presentation and other activities, Professor Abbott maintains an Instagram blog with over 20,000 followers. She calls it a culinary blog; but says that “while on the surface it’s all about food, each food photo comes with a 350-400 word column that explores migration, memory, identity, longing for home and other themes. I’ve talked about this at previous MIX conferences and learned so much about how to run a social media site from MIX.

It’s @TheMindfulMouth and called, “A Year of Mindful Eating: Culinary Stories That Bring You Home.”

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