Lecturer - Secondary Education & Elementary Education

Summer Melody Pennell's teaching and research focus on social justice and equity, particularly with intersectional queer populations. Her interests include English education, critical literacies, queer theory and pedagogy, teacher education, and qualitative methods. Before joining UVM, she was a faculty member at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.

Pennell's current research projects focus on teaching queer Young Adult literature, interdisciplinary partnerships, and employing social justice methods in teacher education. She is a founding member of an international think tank, The Motherscholar Collective, who are conducting a study of the experiences of academic mothers* during the COVID-19 pandemic.



  • Pennell, S. M. (2019). Queering Critical Literacy & Numeracy for Social Justice: Navigating the Course. Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Pennell, S. M., Boyd, A.., Parkhouse, H., & LaGarry, A. (Eds.) (2017). Possibilities in Practice: Social Justice Teaching in the Disciplines. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Refereed Articles

  • Pennell, S. M. Baker, K., & Fede, B. (in press). The Space Between Two Shores: Embracing Ambiguity in Interdisciplinary Partnerships. Voices from the Middle.
  • Bitter, R., Miller, H. C., & Pennell, S. M. (2021). We’re not Sick, We’re not Straight: Conversion Therapy and the Compulsory Body in YAL. The ALAN Review.
  • Day, S. K., & Pennell, S. M. (2020). #PLLQueerTheory: Fans’ reactions to queer representation in Pretty Little Liars. The Journal of Fandom Studies, 8(2), 165-183.
  • Pennell, S. M. & Stobbe, E. (2019). How Can We Talk about Race in the Classroom? Insights from a Content Analysis of Missouri Learning Standards for K–12 Education. Currents, 1(1), 95-104. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/currents.17387731.0001.108.
  • Pennell, S. M. (2019). Reading Representations of Race: Critical Literacy and Ferguson. English Journal, 108(4), 68-75.
  • Pennell, S. M. & Fede, B. (2018). Fighting Fake News: Interdisciplinary Online Literacies for Social Justice. Voices from the Middle, 25(4), 48-53.
  • Pennell, S. M. (2018). Chosen Families: Using and Creating Queer Cultural Capital in a Queer YAL Course. The ALAN Review, 45(2), 45-56.
  • Pennell, S. M. (2017). Training Secondary Teachers to Support LGBTQ+ Students: Practical Applications from Theory and Research. The High School Journal, 101(1), 62-72.
  • Pennell, S. M. (2016). Queer cultural capital: Implications for education. Race, Ethnicity, & Education, 19(2), 324-338.
  • Boyd, A. & Pennell, S. M. (2015). Batteries, Big Red, and Busses: Using Critical Theory to Read for Social Class in “Eleanor & Park”. Study & Scrutiny: Research in Young Adult Literature, 1(1), 95-124.
  • Pennell, S. M. (October 2014). Performance as Education: Creating and Performing a Lesbian Themed Wayang Kulit in Javanese Style. GEMS (Gender, Education, Music, & Society 7(7), 28-44.

Refereed Book Chapters

  • Azim, K., Pennell, S. M., Lim, S., Obaid, M. C., Eilert, M., Ho, H., Key-Delaria, S., & The Motherscholar Collective. (in press). Collective Perspectives: The formation of a motherscholar pandemic research collaborative.
  • M. C. Planas & D. Castillo (Eds.), Scholars in COVID Times. The Motherscholar Collective, Richardson, I., Jones, J. L. B., Greene-Rooks, J., Azim, K. A., Wagner, K., Eilert, M., Lim, S., Pennell, S. M., & Brooks, T. (accepted). From Social Media Group to Village: Academic Mothers* Create a Supportive Online Networking Group During COVID-19. In S. Trocchio, L. Hanasono, R. Dwyer, J. J. Borchert, & J. Y. Harvie (Eds.), It takes a village: Academic mothers building online communities.
  • Pennell, S. M. (in press). “Queer Theory.” In Strunk, K. & Shelton, S. A. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Queer Studies in Education.
  • Pennell, S. M. (in press). “Queer Pedagogy.” In Strunk, K. & Shelton, S. A. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Queer Studies in Education.
  • Pennell, S. M. (in press). Teaching fairy tale retellings with Anna-Marie McLemore’s Dark and Deepest Red. In P. Greathouse, B. Eisenbach & C. Miller (Eds.), Queer Young Adult Literature as a Complement to the English Language Arts Curriculum (2nd Ed.).
  • Baker, K., Pennell, S. M., & Fede, B. (in press). The Mathematics of Imagination: Uncovering Math and Meaning in the Graphic Novel The Magic Fish. In In P. Greathouse, H. Anthony, & B. Eisenbach (Eds), Developing Mathematical Literacy through Young Adult Literature.

Awards and Recognition

  • The Divergent Award for Excellence in Literary Advocacy, Initiative for Literacy in a Digital Age, 2022
  • Academic Innovation Award for “Creating Memes to Increase Comprehension of Queer Theory,” Truman State University, 2019
  • Center for Institutional Diversity's Bertha Thomas Faculty Advocate Award, Truman State University, 2019
  • Women's Resource Center's Woman of Distinction Award, Truman State University, 2019
  • National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) Faculty of the Year, Truman State University, 2017
  • LGBTQI Advocacy Award, from the UNC-Chapel Hill LGBTQ Center, 2016
  • Prize for Best Graduate Work, from the UNC-Chapel Hill Program in Sexuality Studies, 2016
  • Emerging Diversity Scholar, National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan, 2016
  • American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Taylor & Francis Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award, 2014

Associations and Affiliations

  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
  • Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of NCTE
  • English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE)
  • Social Justice Commission of ELATE
  • Genders and Sexualities Equality Alliance (GSEA)
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Summer Pennell

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

  • Critical literacies
  • Young adult literature
  • Social justice education
  • Queer theory and pedagogy
  • Experiences of academic mothers


  • Ph.D. in Education; Culture, Curriculum and Change; UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Folklore; University of Oregon
  • B.A. in English Literature and Interdisciplinary Visual Art, University of Washington in Seattle


Office Location:

537 Waterman

Courses Taught

  • EDEL 176 Language Arts & Literacy Skills
  • EDEL 278 Plng, Adptg, Dlvring Lit Instr
  • EDSC 215 SL:Reading in Secondary Schools
  • EDSC 215 Reading in Secondary Schools