Academic Program Listings of Graduate Faculty and Courses Appointment to the Graduate Faculty

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Academic Program Listings of Graduate Faculty and Courses

Appointment to the Graduate Faculty

Graduate faculty members whose appointments are current as of the publication date of this Record are listed by academic rank in the department(s) in which they serve. Comprehensive listings of the graduate faculty may also be found at Within the school and departmental sections of the Graduate Record, following the faculty member's name, where applicable, is a section number that students should use when registering for independent studies, reading, research, and thesis and dissertation courses with that particular professor. Areas of specialization are listed for each faculty member following the section number.

Course Numbers and Credit

Courses numbered 400–699 are for advanced undergraduates and graduates; courses numbered 700–999 are for graduates only. The unit of measurement in meeting degree requirements is the semester hour–that is, one hour of lecture or at least two hours of laboratory or fieldwork a week per semester. The number in parentheses following the course title in the sections "Courses for Graduates and Advanced Undergraduates" and "Courses for Graduates" indicates the value of the course in semester hours.

Department of American Studies


PATRICIA SAWIN, Coordinator of the Folklore Program

Core members of the Folklore Program are indicated with *.


Robert Allen, American Cultural History, Media Studies, Digital Humanities, Global American Studies

Elizabeth Engelhardt, Southern Studies, Food Studies, Appalachian Studies

Philip Gura, American Literature, American Studies

*Bernard Herman, Material Culture, Visual Culture, Vernacular Arts, Food Studies

Sharon Holland, Feminist, Queer, and Critical Race Theory, Afro-Native Studies, Food Studies, the Human/Animal Divide

Associate Professors

Daniel Cobb, American Indian History, 20th-Century History and Culture

*Marcie Cohen Ferris, Southern Jewish History, American Foodways, Women's Studies, Folklore, Material Culture

Tim Marr, American Literature and Culture, American Studies Theory, Globalization, American Encounters with Southeast Asia

*Patricia Sawin, Folklore Theory, Gender, Narrative, Festival, Ethnography of Speaking

Rachel Willis, Labor Economics, Access to Work, History of the University, Documentary Studies

Assistant Professors

Gabrielle Berlinger, Jewish Studies, Vernacular Architecture, Public Folklore

Ben Frey, American Indian Studies, Language Shift, German, Cherokee

Seth Kotch, Modern American History, Oral History, Digital Humanities

Keith Richotte, Jr., American Indian Law and Policy; Tribal Law, Governance, and Constitutionalism; Legal History

Michelle Robinson, 19th-Century American Literature and Culture, Detective Fiction, Women's History, Religious Movements

Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote, American Indian Material and Expressive Culture, American Indian Art History, Museums, Tourism, the Plains, and American Indian Social and Cultural History

Adjunct Faculty in American Studies

Fitzhugh Brundage, History, American History since the Civil War, Southern History

Kathleen DuVal, History, Early America, Particularly Cross-Cultural Relations on North American Borderlands

Larry Griffin, Sociology, Social Inequality, Race and Race Relations, Politics, U.S. Culture, the American South

Lawrence Grossberg, Communication Studies, Media and Cultural Studies

Minrose Gwin, English, 20th-Century American Literature, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, Southern Literature

Jennifer Ho, English, 20th-Century American Literature, Asian-American Literature, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies

Michael Lienesch, Political Science, American Political Theory, Religion and Politics in America

*Jocelyn Neal, Music, 20th-Century Music Theory, Popular Music

Michael Palm, Technology and Everyday Life, Politics and Economics of Media Culture, Telecommunications History, Work, Labor and Consumption Studies

Eliza Richards, English, 19th-Century American Literature, Gender Studies, American Poetry

Katherine Roberts, Landscape, Vernacular Architecture

Ruth Salvaggio, English, 18th-Century Literature, Feminist Theory

Additional Faculty in Folklore


*William Ferris, Southern Music and Literature, Documentary Studies, American South

Della Pollock (9) Performance of Literature, Performance Theory and Criticism, Cultural Studies

Associate Professors

Robert Edward Daniels (4) Social Anthropology, Culture and Personality, Africa

*Glenn D. Hinson (36) Ethnography, African American Expressive Culture, Belief Systems, Vernacular Art, Public Folklore, American South

Valerie Lambert (59) American Indians, Ethnography, Political and Legal Anthropology, Sovereignty, Identity, Race and Racism, Elites, United States

Christopher Nelson (64) History and Memory, Everyday Life, Ethnography, Critical Theory, Storytelling, Ritual and Performance, Japan and Okinawa

Karla Slocum (56) Global/Local Studies, Social Movements, Agency, Development, Gender, Applying Anthropology, Caribbean

Professors Emeriti

Robert Cantwell, Folklore, Vernacular Music, Culture and Human Rights, Folklore Theory, Jane Addams, Pragmatism and the Progressive Era, Jewish Writers, Close Reading

Trudier Harris, African American Folklore and Literature

John Kasson, American Intellectual and Cultural History, Technology and Society, Art and Literature, Popular Culture

Joy Kasson, American Visual Culture, Literature, Popular Culture, Cultural History

Townsend Luddington, American Literature, Art, and Culture

Daniel W. Patterson, Ballads, American Folksong, Religious Folklife, Gravestones, American South

Theda Perdue, Native American History

Charles Gordon Zug, Pottery, Material Culture, Narrative, Maritime Folklife, Folk Art, American South

The American Studies Department offers a Ph.D. in American Studies and an M.A. in Folklore as well as a graduate minor in either American Studies or Folklore for students pursuing a graduate degree in other departments.

Ph.D. in American Studies


Students will be admitted to the Ph.D. in American Studies from a wide range of undergraduate programs, some with an undergraduate degree, some with a master's degree in American Studies or another relevant discipline. Candidates for admission should be firmly grounded in the humanities, social sciences, or the arts. The best qualified students should articulate an interest in American history, literary, expressive and/or material culture, and/or critical theory, should show some familiarity with library, Web-based, and/or ethnographic research methods, and should offer a specific rationale for their interest in the UNC–Chapel Hill graduate program. In addition to the Graduate School application form, candidates for admission will present one or two writing samples, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, GRE aptitude scores, and a curriculum vitae. Transfer credits may be awarded at the department's discretion on the basis of course equivalencies.

Applications will be accepted in December for matriculation the following August. Consult the Web site of the Graduate School for details, specific deadlines, and link to the on-line application system.

Students who join the department with a master's degree can usually expect to spend one year less on coursework than those who enter with an undergraduate degree, although students admitted with a master's degree in a field other than American Studies may need to take some additional courses as they progress toward the American Studies Ph.D. The graduate studies committee will make the determination on an individual basis. Students who enter with an undergraduate degree undertake a capstone project in their second year and earn the M.A. upon completion and defense of the capstone project before proceeding to preparations for comprehensive examinations and the dissertation.

The Department of American Studies also offers an M.A. degree in Folklore. Admission to the Folklore does not constitute admission to the Ph.D. in American Studies.

The Ph.D. in American Studies

The Ph.D. degree in American Studies provides rigorous training in interdisciplinary methods dedicated to the understanding of the complex cultures and history of the United States and its place in the world. Program graduates will be prepared both to teach at the college and university levels in American Studies and related fields, including Southern Studies, American Indian Studies, literature, history, art history, cultural studies, and folklore, and to pursue professional opportunities in museums, historical sites, archives, or related fields requiring interdisciplinary perspectives and methodologies.


The Ph.D. program in American Studies balances flexibility and a focus on students' own areas of interest with requirements designed to insure knowledge of key issues and texts in the interdisciplinary study of American culture. Ph.D. students must complete 20 courses (60 hours). Those who enter the program with an M.A. may count up to 18 hours of previous study toward the degree. Four specific courses – History and Practices of American Studies (AMST 700), Interdisciplinary Research Methodologies (AMST 701), Readings in American Studies (AMST 702), and Ph.D. Research Seminar (AMST 902) – are required. Students generally take six other courses offered by American Studies core faculty and the remainder of their courses in a variety of associated graduate programs, including English, history, music, and religious studies. Those who enter the program with a B.A. also undertake the M.A. Research Seminar (AMST 901) and the Capstone Project (AMST 992). Students pursuing the Ph.D. take comprehensive exams in American Studies and two other areas of their own choice and complete a dissertation. They are also expected to participate actively in the departmental colloquium.

Language Proficiency

Each Ph.D. candidate is expected, as a condition of advancing to candidacy, to demonstrate moderate reading and/or speaking proficiency in one language beyond his or her native language. The department is committed to helping students choose a specific language and a means of satisfying the requirement best suited to promote their studies and future career. In order to demonstrate the required proficiency, a student may:

  • Pass the Graduate Foreign Language Proficiency Assessment offered by the Graduate School for Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Italian each semester: (Students may wish to enroll in SPAN 601 Spanish for Reading, FREN 601 French for Reading, or GERM 601 and 602 Elementary German for Graduate Students to prepare for the assessment).

  • Enroll in and pass with a B or better a language course at the 204 (4th semester) level or higher and any prior courses necessary to reach that level. UNC and our sister institutions offer courses in many languages not covered by the GFLPA, including Cherokee and several African and Slavic languages, with which students could satisfy the requirement by taking courses. (Note that courses numbered below 400 will not count for credit toward the graduate degree.)

  • Arrange to be tutored by an expert in the target language, who will attest to the Director of Graduate Studies in writing that the student has attained moderate reading and/or speaking competence.

  • In exceptional circumstances, and especially where the student wishes to demonstrate speaking competence that will be used in his or her research, the student may petition the Graduate Studies Committee to have other experience and/or evidence of competence count to satisfy the requirement.

Students who earned a B.A. with a major in or an M.A. in the study of a language other than English are considered already to have demonstrated the required competence. Native speakers of languages other than English are considered to have completed the requirement by earning a score on the TOEFL exam sufficient to qualify for admission to UNC (or by being exempt from taking the TOEFL according to the rules promulgated by The Graduate School, usually by earning a previous degree at a university where the primary language of instruction is English) and by completing their coursework and other requirements for the degree in English.


All students enrolled in the American Studies graduate program will participate throughout their graduate careers in a monthly colloquium in which faculty and Ph.D. candidates will offer presentations of their work-in-progress. The colloquium exposes graduate students to the research interests of faculty in American Studies and allied fields and more advanced students, provides opportunities for sharing discourses and ideas, and may also include visiting graduate students and faculty from international partner institutions. The colloquium is the collegial wellspring of the program, the intellectual and social center of the American Studies community, the conversation occurring there will naturally both inform and be informed by classroom work, particularly in AMST 700, 701, and 702, will help to shape, against the backdrop of individual specializations, a common discourse, and in large part provide a site for the formation of the American studies social and intellectual community.

Comprehensive Exams

Students will undertake comprehensive exams in the spring of the third year for students admitted with a B.A. and in the spring of the second year for students admitted with an M.A. Students and faculty will work collaboratively, with the aim of integrating the best work with the most current scholarship in particular fields. The professors who teach AMST 700, AMST 701 and/or AMST 702 for each cohort will collaborate with students to develop the reading list for the American Studies exam required of all students. Each student will constitute a three-person examination advisory committee (usually consisting of two faculty members from American Studies and one from a related department) in consultation with whom to develop reading lists for two other field concentrations. In one of the field concentrations the student will undertake a written exam and in the other the student will produce a portfolio. Shortly after passing the written exams and submitting the portfolio, each student will undergo an oral exam covering the American Studies exam and their two chosen field concentrations. Students are expected to receive passing evaluations in all three examination areas as well as the oral exam. Any student who fails one or more sections of the exam may repeat the failed section(s) only once.


Each student will prepare a professional portfolio directed toward teaching, museum, archival, public policy, digital humanities, publicly engaged humanities, or other appropriate application of the field. The portfolio will constitute the written examination in one of the student's chosen field areas. A portfolio for teaching will include the syllabus for an upper division course in the area of specialization plus bibliography and sample lesson plans. A portfolio for those interested in museum studies or public programming will include a comprehensive framework for an exhibit or similar project plus a bibliography and sample components. Students with other areas of specialization may work with their advisors to develop plans for an appropriate portfolio of similar scope.

Teaching and Professional Development

All students will be expected to teach as part of their service requirement for financial aid. Students will most often serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate courses taught by members of the faculty. More advanced students may have the opportunity to develop and teach undergraduate courses in their areas of specialization. The teaching portfolio may provide the basis for such an independently taught course.

Doctoral Dissertation and Defense

The dissertation constitutes an original contribution to knowledge that advances the interdisciplinary understanding of American culture. It may be based upon archival research, analysis of texts and/or cultural artifacts, ethnographic research, or a combination. The student will constitute a five-person doctoral advisory committee, usually by adding two more members to the three-person comprehensive examination advisory committee. The student ordinarily completes the dissertation prospectus and refines it with the advice of the doctoral advisory committee at the end of the semester that begins with his/her successful completion of the comprehensive exams and the acceptance of the portfolio. The prospectus must be approved by the committee following a prospectus defense. Students should normally plan to complete the doctoral dissertation during the spring of the third year of doctoral studies (the fourth year of matriculation for students beginning the program with a B.A.; the third year for students admitted with an M.A.). Upon completion of the dissertation, all degree candidates must successfully defend their dissertations before their doctoral advisory committee.

M.A. in Folklore

The Department of American Studies offers an M.A. in Folklore. The M.A. program in folklore focuses on the study of creativity and aesthetic expression in everyday life and on the social and political implications of this expression as it unfolds in contested arenas of culture. Not bound to traditional definitions of folklore, and committed to preparing students for ethical practice in a multicultural world, the program offers a flexible M.A. curriculum that readies students for both public practice and further academic study.

The study of folklore focuses attention on those expressive realms that communities infuse with cultural meaning and through which they give voice to the issues and concerns that they see as central to their being. These realms are often deeply grounded in tradition, yet as community self-definitions develop and change in light of shifting social, political, and economic realities, community-based artistry likewise evolves. Folklore thus moves beyond the study of the old and time-honored to explore emergent meanings and cultural forms.

The primary vehicle for the exploration of contemporary folklore is ethnographic fieldwork, the real-world study of people's lives in everyday settings, grounded in conversation and participatory engagement. In Folklore courses, students often move beyond the university to engage experts of the everyday in the communities they call home. The expertise of our core faculty offers broad coverage of the expressive realms of music, narrative, festival, architecture, belief, language, food, and art as articulated in communities defined by race, gender, class, ethnicity, region, faith, and occupation.


Applications will be accepted in December for matriculation the following August. Consult the Web site of the Graduate School for details, specific deadlines, and link to the on-line application system.

Degree Requirements

The M.A. program in folklore balances flexibility and a focus on students' own areas of interest with requirements designed to insure knowledge of key issues and texts in the discipline. Master's students must complete 10 courses (30 hours). Two specific courses–Approaches to Folklore Theory (FOLK 850) and The Art of Ethnography (FOLK 860)–are required, and students must take three other courses offered by core faculty. Students take the remainder of their courses in a variety of associated graduate programs, including American studies, anthropology, communications studies, English, history, music, and religious studies or take advantage of the opportunity to enroll in courses at neighboring universities, particularly those offered at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. Students pursuing an M.A. must compile a critical literature review at the beginning of their third semester, and must complete and defend a thesis at the end of their second year of study. They must also demonstrate moderate reading and/or speaking proficiency in a language other than their native language. (See Language Proficiency section for the American Studies Ph.D. for a listing of ways for students to complete the language requirement.)

Graduate Minor in American Studies

The American studies graduate minor serves students admitted in a variety of departments, including art, communications studies, English, history, and religious studies. Interdisciplinary training in the study of American culture can enhance scholarly and teaching capabilities for these students. The object of study is American culture in all its diversity, and the methodologies include historical, literary, and visual analysis as well as ethnography, sociology, economics, and political science as appropriate. The American Studies Department at UNC offers courses in the theory and methodology of American studies and in concentrations including American Indian studies, folklore, material culture studies, Southern studies, and digital humanities.


Contact the department chair or director of graduate studies.


The graduate minor consists of five courses, to be selected with the advice of the chair or director of graduate studies in American studies. These courses should include AMST 700 or 701 and at least two other graduate courses with an AMST designation. Additional courses may be chosen from cognate departments. These courses must be in addition to those required for the degree in the student's major field of study.

Graduate Minor in Folklore

Students pursuing the Ph.D. in another department at UNC may qualify for a minor in Folklore by completing six courses, chosen in consultation with the coordinator of the Folklore Program. These courses must be in addition to those required for the degree in the student's major field of study.

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students

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