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Judith Pearl Summerfield

Judith Pearl Summerfield

Professor Emerita of English at Queens College / CUNY, Judith Summerfield writes about language and literature, composition, rhetoric, and teaching, the place of stories in our lives, and the importance of a liberal/liberating education. A builder of innovative college programs, she served as University Dean for Undergraduate Education at CUNY’s Central Office.  She has received a number of grants and awards for her work, including the Modern Language Association Mina Shaughnessy outstanding research award for Texts and Contexts: A Contribution to the Theory and Practice of Teaching Composition.  In 1998 she was named the New York State Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for her contributions to improving undergraduate teaching.  

Summerfield, who grew up in a coal-mining town in southwestern Pennsylvania, earned a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. from New York University.  Her new book, A Man Comes from Someplace: Stories, History, Memory from a Lost Time is a family narrative, drawn from the oral stories of her father who escaped from his shtetl in Ukraine during the Russian Revolution. The story speaks to questions of place and identity, exile, immigration, and survival. Story functions as antidote to trauma and an act of resistance, the refusal to be silenced or erased, the insistence that we know the past and remember those who came before.  

She introduced the book at the Krakow Jewish Festival in Poland in July 2015, and since then has been an invited speaker and consultant at universities, community centers, book clubs, and organizations such as the Holocaust Educators Network that are furthering teachers’ knowledge about the Holocaust and other genocides. 

In 2011, she traveled to the remains of the place her father and his family came from in southwestern Ukraine, where she met with the principal and teachers in the area school. They asked that the book be included as part of their efforts to reconstruct a local history for their community.  A Man Comes from Someplace is now being read by students in their English classes in the area school in Novokonstantinov.