Skip to main content

Contact Information

Greenlaw Hall 211, CB #3520
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520

Meditations on the Worlds of Things
Southern Things


Ph.D. Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania, 1978.
B.A. English, College of William and Mary, 1973.

Research Interests

Bernie Herman, George B. Tindall Professor of Southern Studies, joined the American Studies, Folklore, and Art faculty in 2009 after a distinguished career at the University of Delaware where he taught in Art History, History, Urban Affairs and Public Policy, and Material Culture Studies and co-founded two interdisciplinary research centers on material culture and historic preservation and architectural documentation.

His books include Architecture and Rural Life in Central Delaware 1700-1900The Stolen House, and Town House: Architecture and Material Life in the Early American City, 1760-1830—each awarded the Abbott Lowell Cummings Award as the best book on North American vernacular architecture. His recent books include edited works Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper and Fever Within: The Art of Ronald Lockett (forthcoming 2016), both accompanying traveling exhibitions organized through the Ackland Art Museum at UNC. He has published essays on quilts, self-taught and outsider arts, foodways, historical archaeology, vernacular photography, and theoretical approaches to the study and interpretation of objects.

Herman teaches courses on visual and material culture, contemporary craft and traditional arts, writing material culture, Southern studies, architectural history, folklife, and objects in everyday life. He works with students on hands-on research projects leading to public engagement through publications and exhibitions. His seminar projects include Food Always Brings People Together: Stories, Poems, and Recipes from the New London Road Community, Newark, Delaware, and Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper, a book and exhibition a 2011 with the University of North Carolina’s Ackland Museum of Art.

His current research projects include Quilt Spaces, an oral history based exploration of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, quilts and quiltmakers. He is also working on a history of first-period (1675-1740) Delaware Valley houses from the falls at Trenton to the Capes of Delaware and a collection of essays, Troublesome Things, supported with a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, that explores themes in contemporary self-taught and outsider arts and craft.

Courses Taught

AMST 211: Introduction to the American South: A Cultural History
AMST 284: Visual Culture
AMST 485: Folk, Self-Taught, and Vernacular Art
AMST 490: Writing Material Culture