Meet Your Professor: Abbye Meyer
I've spent most of my career working with education- and community-based nonprofit organizations and I've felt frustrated by the separation between academia and the rest of the world. Children’s literature is a great way to discuss difficult and complex ideas with people of various backgrounds and skill levels.
Where did you go to college, and what did you study?
I went to Dartmouth College, where I earned an A.B. in English and creative writing — and where I wrote an often-ridiculous opinion column for the newspaper. After that, I received an M.Phil. in American Studies at the University of Glasgow, where I got to look at culture in the US from an outside perspective.
Glasgow University is where I decided to write about my favorite children's books, so I went to the University of Connecticut to study children's literature (as part of a PhD in English) with a couple of the most respected scholars in the field.
Tell us about your role at Simmons.
I'm brand new to Simmons, and I feel fortunate to be here. I'm working with the graduate degree programs in children's literature, and I'm also teaching a Boston course this fall.
Do you have a favorite course you teach?
I always love teaching children's and young adult literature, and I'm newly excited to teach a graduate course on fantasy and science fiction this fall. I'm also hoping to put together something in disability studies in the spring.
What inspired you to work in children's literature?
I've spent most of my career working with education- and community-based nonprofit organizations and I've felt frustrated by the separation between academia and the rest of the world. Children’s literature is a great way to discuss difficult and complex ideas with people of various backgrounds and skill levels. Reading children's books is a lot of fun, and the best ones provoke really interesting, meaningful conversations.
What research have you been conducting lately?
I just finished revising a book, From Wallflowers to Bulletproof Families: The Power of Disability in Young Adult Narratives, which has been important to me, both personally and professionally.
If we visited your home office, what would we see?
Most of the time, it's a mess—but kind of an organized mess. Along with the usual piles of books and papers, that room is filled with amateur drawings and paintings, lots of CDs, record albums, and inexpertly played instruments.
What's the last book you read?
On the recommendation of a good friend, I finally read Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, and I'm so glad I did.
What TV show are you currently binging?
I watch and re-watch tons of TV shows and movies, but I always end up with Seinfeld. Somehow, it never gets old, and of course, it never loses the wisdom of Larry David.
What social media accounts have you been following lately?
I don't follow many specific accounts, but I do pay attention to Disability Twitter—especially the #CripTheVote founders Alice Wong, Andrew Pulrang, and Gregg Beratan. I also often check my favorite band Belle & Sebastian's social media accounts, where group leader Stuart Murdoch has been leading regular meditations during these COVID-19 times.
Do you have any words of encouragement for students this semester?
This will be an odd semester, of course, so I'm hoping we all make an effort to feel comfortable with as many communication forms as possible—from Zoom to email to snail mail to phone calls to apps I don't even know to exist. Human connection feels really important and helps make learning so much more fun and meaningful.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
While I was living in Glasgow, I managed to become friends with my favorite band, Belle & Sebastian. Even though I'm not Scottish, I already knew how to play the bagpipes (a strange, silly story), and the band has one song with a bagpipe part, so I've played with them a few times. It's probably my best story—and as close as I'll get to fame!