Marcie Cohen Ferris

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Greenlaw Hall 320, CB #3520
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520
work (919) 843-9881
mobile (919) 360-9718
home (919) 968-8280

Carolina Center for Jewish Studies

Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats (AMST 375, SP 2015) 


Ph. D., American Studies, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., 2003
MA, History, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1985
BA, American Civilization, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 1981


I am associate professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Since 2008, I have served as the department’s coordinator of Southern Studies.  My research and teaching interests include the history of the Jewish South, food in American culture, American Jewish women’s history, and the foodways and material culture of the American South.  In 2007, I received the University of North Carolina’s Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.  From 2006-2008, I served as President of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

My recent book, The Edible South:  The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region (UNC Press, 2014), is a social history of southern foodways—the cultural, social and economic practices that relate to food in the American South. Throughout this text, I examine the visceral connection between southern food and the politics of power. The contradiction between the realities of fulsomeness and deprivation, privilege and poverty, in southern history resonates in the region’s food traditions, both beloved and maligned. The experience of food serves as an evocative lens onto colonial settlements and antebellum plantations, New South cities and Civil Rights-era lunch counters, chronic hunger and agricultural reform, counterculture communes and iconic restaurants. Food–as cuisine and as commodity–has expressed and shaped southern identity to the present day.

I am currently developing “Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats,” a multi-tiered project of teaching, research, service, and publication which explores the history and contemporary politics of food in five regions of North Carolina: the coast, eastern Carolina, the Piedmont, western Carolina, and the state’s borderlands.
My publications include Matzoh Ball Gumbo:  Culinary Tales of the Jewish South (UNC Press, 2005), nominated for a 2006 James Beard Foundation Award. I am co-editor of Jewish Roots in Southern Soil:  A New History (University Press of New England, 2006), an anthology of contemporary scholarship on the Jewish South. I served as guest editor and a contributor to Southern Cultures’ first food issues (Vo. 15, 2009, Vol. 18, 2012), and will edit the spring 2015 food issue. I have published chapters in anthologies that include Writing in the Kitchen: Essays on Southern Literature and Foodways (University of Mississippi Press, 2014), The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South (University of Georgia Press, 2013), Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World (Routledge Press, 2012), Southern Crossroads:  Perspectives on Religion and Culture (University Press of Kentucky, 2008), Cornbread Nation:  The Best of Southern Food Writing, Volumes 1 (UNC Press, 2002), 2 (UNC Press, 2004), 4 (University of Georgia Press, 2008), and 5 (University of Georgia Press, 2010), American Jewish Women:  An Historical Reader from Colonial Times to the Present (NYU Press, 2002), Shalom Y’all:  Images of Southern Jewish Life in America (Algonquin Press, 2002), and Southern Jewish History (1998).
I received my Ph.D. in American Studies from George Washington University (2003). Prior to this time, I worked in the field of public history as a museum educator/administrator, including, Norlands, a living history farm museum (Livermore, ME), Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) Elderhostel (Boston, MA), and the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (Jackson, MS).


AMST 486: “Shalom Y’all”: The Jewish Experience in the American South
AMST 375: Cooking Up a Storm: Exploring Food in American Culture
AMST 253: Mamas and Matriarchs: A Social History of Jewish Women in America
AMST 390: No Place Like Home: Material Culture of the American South
AMST 211: Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey