Photo credit: Marsha Miller

Contact Information

Greenlaw Hall 211, CB # 3520
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520
(919) 962-6873


Ph.D. Emory University, 1999.
M.A. Emory University, 1997.
B.A. Duke University, 1992.

Research Interests and Honors

I joined the Department of American Studies as the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies in January 2015. My most recent book project, The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South (2013, co-edited with John T. Edge and Ted Ownby), is an anthology that thinks about diverse ways we can write and talk about southern cultures through food. I am the author of A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food (2011), a monograph that investigates the changing food story of the US South. I am also the lead author of Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket (2009); editor of Beyond Hill and Hollow: Original Readings in Appalachian Women’s Studies (2005); author of The Tangled Roots of Feminism, Environmentalism, and Appalachian Literature (2003); and editor of The Power and the Glory: An Appalachian Novel (2003, a reprint of a 1910 novel by Grace MacGowan Cooke).

Throughout my research, I draw from letters, diaries, cookbooks, novels, photographs, government records, short stories, and material objects. I work to collect and build alternative archives as well, especially in terms of oral histories with living subjects, and, increasingly, the seeds, heritage ingredients, tastes, and even sounds of the communities whose stories I aim to document and analyze. Archival analysis, informed by critical race theory, ecological, feminist ethnographic, and oral history practices, helps me to expand my range and my responsibilities as a humanities scholar. While my recent work has coalesced around southern food studies, my commitment to Appalachian studies and the intersectionality of region, race, gender, and class continues to motivate me as a scholar.

I serve on the board of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization dedicated to the documentation and celebration of the complicated stories of food in diverse communities of the US South. During my previous ten years at the University of Texas at Austin, I helped to found and served on the board of Foodways Texas, a similar organization working to understand the multi-racial, multi-ethnic cultures and foods of the state. I also am one of the book series editors for the Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture People and Place through the University of Georgia Press (


I teach courses about southern cultures, gender, food studies, feminist theories, ecological literature and culture, Appalachian Studies, public humanities, and the intersections of race, class, and gender in American literature and society.

More importantly, I am always looking for ways to extend research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. For instance, Republic of Barbecue began as a graduate class and became a multi-state collaboration, incorporated a website of oral histories into the resulting book, and helped launch a statewide organization. I want students in my classes to claim their own role as knowledge producers and as synthetic thinkers.

Courses Taught

AMST 089: First Year Seminar: Mobility, Cars, NASCAR and the South
AMST 201: Literary Approaches to American Studies: Southern Writers
AMST 410—Senior Seminar in Southern Studies: How to Study the South Today