Dr. Peter Neumeyer, Distinguished Faculty
Peter F. Neumeyer was born in Germany in 1929. Fleeing the Nazis, he and his family immigrated to the United States in 1936. After receiving his undergraduate degree, master’s degree, and doctorate (in 1963) in English at UC Berkeley, Neumeyer taught at Harvard University until 1969. It was there that Neumeyer taught one of the first literary courses on children's books in North America. He also taught at State University of New York (Stony Brook) and West Virginia University, and at summer courses on children’s literature at Columbia University. Additionally, Neumeyer has lectured in Sweden and Finland.
Neumeyer came to San Diego State University in 1978. At SDSU, he developed in the English Department what has become the largest children's literature program in North America. Neumeyer has published extensively on children's literature topics, including The Annotated Charlotte's Web. He has also written about Franz Kafka, Tove Jansson, Richard Kennedy, and Randall Jerrell.
Outside of academia, Neumeyer collaborated with illustrator and friend Edward Gorey on three books, the Donald and the… series. He is also a poet, and has published numerous poems in literary journals. After retirement from SDSU in 1993, Neumeyer became a prolific reviewer of children's books for various publications including Prodigy, Mothering Magazine, Parent's Choice, San Diego Home and Garden, and the Los Angeles Times. In 2005, he received the Children's Literature Association's Anne Deveraux Jordan Award for his contributions to the field.
Download the PDF transcript.
Dr. Neumeyer’s oral history documents his childhood, education, and professional career as a teacher, professor, editor, and children’s book author. His oral history is divided into two parts. Part 1 focuses on Dr. Neumeyer’s early childhood in Germany, and later Oakland, California. Of particular interest are his remembrances of growing up Jewish in Nazi Germany. He also reflects on his education at Berkeley and his professorships at Harvard, Stony Brook, and West Virginia. The second half of Dr. Neumeyer’s oral history documents his time at San Diego State, the genesis of the children’s literature program, the Green Tiger Press, and Neumeyer’s contributions to children’s literature. Highlights include his collaboration with Edward Gorey on Donald and the dot, dot, dot and other children’s stories.
Interview digitally recorded by Susan Resnik, Ph.D on April 2010.