Department of American Studies
BERNARD HERMAN, Chair
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
*Robert Cantwell, Folklore, Vernacular Music, Culture and Human Rights, Folklore Theory, Jane Addams, Pragmatism and the Progressive Era, Jewish Writers, Close Reading
Philip Gura, American Literature, American Studies
*Bernard Herman, Material Culture, Visual Culture, Vernacular Arts, Foodways
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
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
Christopher Teuton, North American Indigenous Oral and Written Literatures, Indigenous Critical Theory; Nineteenth Century American Literature and Culture
Rachel Willis, Labor Economics, Access to Work, History of the University, Documentary Studies
*Katherine Roberts, Material Culture, Environment and Place, Vernacular Architecture, American South
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
Yaakov Ariel, Religious Studies, Religion in the Americas, Evangelicals and Jews; Jewish Renewal; Jewish New Religious Movements; Christianity and Israel
Carole Blair, Communication Studies, Visual and Material Rhetorics, Rhetoric and Memory, and Rhetorics of Place, Contemporary Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
Fitzhugh Brundage, History, American History since the Civil War, Southern History
Kathleen DuVal, History, Early America, Particularly Cross-Cultural Relations on North American Borderlands
Jon Finson, Music, American Popular Song, Film Music
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
Jacquelyn Hall, History, U.S. Women’s History, Southern History, Working-Class History, Oral History, Cultural/Intellectual History
Reginald Hildebrand, History and African American Studies, Emancipation in the South
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
Malinda Maynor Lowery, History, Native American History, Southern History, Race and Ethnicity
Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Religious Studies; African American Religion; Ethnicity, Race, and Religion; Religious and Cultural History of the American West; Mormonism
Eliza Richards, English, 19th-Century American Literature, Gender Studies, American Poetry
Ruth Salvaggio, English, 18th-Century Literature, Feminist Theory
Heather Williams, History, African Americans in 19th and 20th Centuries
Additional Faculty in Folklore
*William Ferris, Southern Music and Literature, Documentary Studies, American South
James L. Peacock (11) Culture Change, Symbolic Systems, Southeast Asia
Della Pollock (9) Performance of Literature, Performance Theory and Criticism, Cultural Studies
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
*Jocelyn Neal (7) 20th-Century Theory, Popular Music
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
Trudier Harris, African American Folklore and Literature
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 is the home for the master’s degree in folklore. It also offers graduate courses that may be taken as part of a graduate minor by students admitted in other departments. A new doctoral program in American Studies is pending approval by the Board of Governors for implementation in 2013–2014.
Graduate Minor in American Studies
American studies is a nationally and internationally recognized field, comprising the interdisciplinary study of American culture. 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, and Southern studies. The American studies graduate minor serves students admitted in a variety of departments, including art, communications studies, English, history, religious studies, and others. Interdisciplinary training can enhance scholarly and teaching capabilities for these students.
See the department chair or director of graduate studies.
Requirements for the Minor in American 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 American studies designation. Additional courses may be chosen from cognate departments.
Program in Folklore
Master of Arts Degree
The folklore program 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 the contested arenas of culture. Not bound to traditional definitions of folklore, and committed to preparing students for ethical practice in a multicultural world, the folklore program offers a flexible M.A. program that readies students for both public practice and further academic study.
The millennium’s turn marked five decades of the folklore program’s presence at UNC–Chapel Hill. Founded with an eye to regional study and deeply integrated with the University’s long-standing focus on Southern history, literature, and culture, the program maintains its commitment to the study of regional folklife. This dedication, however, in no way limits the program’s vision. Students and faculty do much of their fieldwork in the South, but also in other regions and internationally. Faculty interests cluster in the areas of music, language, and narrative, African American culture, public folklore, gender, material culture, vernacular architecture and landscape, foodways, occupational folklife, and the politics of culture. Deeply committed to collaborative work in the public realm, folklore program members work extensively with local communities, pursuing projects with museums, arts councils, media production companies, and a range of other organizations.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supports folklore research and the folklore program through its library and archival collections. Our libraries have extensive holdings of books, manuscripts, periodicals, images, and both field and commercial sound recordings and videos relating to folklore, with especially strong and growing holdings for the American South and the British Isles. Particularly notable among these collections are the Archie Green Occupational Folklife Collection, the Don Yoder Collection of American religious tune books, and the John Edwards Memorial Collection of early Southern commercially recorded folk and popular music, all part of the Southern Folklife Collection.
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 also traditionally take courses in a variety of associated graduate programs, including anthropology, communications studies, English, history, and music, 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. complete and defend a thesis at the end of their two years of study and must demonstrate reading proficiency in a language other than English.
Students may also opt for a folklore minor in another Ph.D. program. Students pursuing the minor complete six courses, decided upon in consultation with the program coordinator.
Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students
410 Senior Seminar in Southern Studies (3). We will engage such topics as race, immigration, cultural tourism, and memory to consider conceptions of the South. Students will research a subject they find compelling and write a 20- to 25-page paper.
440 American Indian Poetry (3). This course explores the relation of American Indian poetry and music in English to the history and culture of indigenous communities and their relation to the United States.
466 You Are Where You Live: The American House in Critical Perspective (3).This course emphasizes the complexities of human shelter in the United States. We learn housing types, explore their social uses and meanings, and evaluate critical issues, such as affordability and gentrification.
482 Images of the American Landscape (3). This course will consider how real estate speculation, transportation, suburbanization, and consumerism have shaped a landscape whose many representations in art and narrative record our ongoing struggle over cultural meaning.
483 Seeing the U.S.A.: Visual Arts and American Culture (3). Examines the ways in which visual works—paintings, photographs, sculpture, architecture, film, advertising, and other images—communicate the values of American culture and raise questions about American experiences.
484 Visual Culture (3). This course investigates how we make and signify meaning through images, ranging from art to advertising to graffiti, and provides the critical tools to understand the visual worlds we inhabit.
485 Folk, Self-Taught, Vernacular, and Outsider Arts (3). Drawing on American and international examples, this course addresses a body of art that occupies the borderlands of contemporary art, examining questions of authenticity, dysfunction, aesthetics, and identity.
486 Shalom Y’all: The Jewish Experience in the American South (JWST 486) (3). This course explores ethnicity in the South and focuses on the history and culture of Jewish Southerners from their arrival in the Carolinas in the 17th century to the present day.
487 Early American Architecture and Material Life (3). This course explores, through lecture and discussion, the experiences of everyday life from 1600 through the early 19th century, drawing on the evidence of architecture, landscape, images, and objects.
488 No Place Like Home: Material Culture of the American South (FOLK 488) (3). Seminar will explore the unique worlds of Southern material culture and how "artifacts" from barns to biscuits provide insight about the changing social and cultural history of the American South.
490 Writing Material Culture (3). A reading seminar that examines multiple critical perspectives that shape the reception and interpretation of objects, with a particular emphasis on things in American life.
499 Advanced Seminar in American Studies (3). Graduate or junior/senior standing. Examines American civilization by studying social and cultural history, criticism, art, architecture, music, film, popular pastimes, and amusements, among other possible topics.
685 Literature of the Americas (CMPL 685, ENGL 685) (3). See ENGL 685 for description.
691H Honors in American Studies (3). Directed independent research leading to the preparation of an honors thesis and an oral examination on the thesis. Required of candidates for graduation with honors in American studies who enroll in the class once permission to pursue honors is granted.
692H Honors in American Studies (3). Directed independent research leading to the preparation of an honors thesis and an oral examination on the thesis. Required of candidates for graduation with honors in American studies who enroll in the class once permission to pursue honors is granted.
Courses for Graduate Students
700 The History and Practices of American Studies (3). This course will acquaint students with the texts, contexts, issues, and controversies in American studies as a field of study. It is required for most American studies graduate students and open to graduate students in other departments.
701 Interdisciplinary Research Methods (3). This course will focus on techniques of American studies investigation. Various faculty members will make presentations highlighting approaches including Southern studies, American Indian studies, Material Culture studies, and new media.
702 Readings in American Studies (3). This course takes a specific topic to explore in depth, and through this investigation critically examines contending perspectives on the field. Topics will change depending on faculty interest.
840 Digital Humanities/Digital American Studies (3). This course, explores the application of digital technologies to the materials, questions, and practices of humanities scholarship, particularly as related to enduring topics in American Studies scholarship and community engagement. Students will work on group digital history projects in collaboration with local cultural heritage organizations.
878 Readings in Native American History (HIST 878) (3). See HIST 878 for description.
880 American Film and Media History (3). Topically focused examination of social and cultural aspects of cinema and media history in the United States including cinema/media audiences, reception, and historiography.
890 Special Topics in American Studies (3). Field/topical/research seminar. Instructors use this course to offer instruction in particular topics or approaches. Specific course descriptions are available each semester on the departmental Web site.
895 Directed Readings for Graduate Students (3). Permission of the instructor. Independent reading programs for graduate students whose needs are covered by no course immediately available. For students resident in Chapel Hill or vicinity.
900 Directed Readings (0.5–21). Topics vary according to the needs and interests of the individual student and the professor directing the reading and writing project.
901 M.A. Research Seminar (3). Students will be introduced to issues of project design, develop a prospectus for the M.A. capstone project, work with an advisor, and prepare full drafts of their projects.
902 Ph.D. Research Seminar (3). A review of current scholarship in American studies, with the aim of creating the final reading list for the comprehensive exams, and an introduction to dissertation design.
948 Research in Native American History (HIST 948) (3). See HIST 948 for description.
992 Non-Thesis Option (3).
993 Master’s Thesis (3-6).
994 Doctoral Dissertation (3). Individual work on the doctoral dissertation, pursued under the supervision of the Ph.D. advisor.
Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students
428 Religion and Anthropology (ANTH 428, RELI 428) (3). See ANTH 428 for description.
429 Culture and Power in Southeast Asia (ANTH 429, ASIA 429) (3). See ANTH 429 for description.
435 Consciousness and Symbols (ANTH 435, CMPL 435) (3). See ANTH 435 for description.
454 Historical Geography of the United States (GEOG 454) (3). See GEOG 454 for description.
455 Method and Theory in Ethnohistoric Research (ANTH 455) (3). See ANTH 455 for description.
470 Medicine and Anthropology (ANTH 470) (3). See ANTH 470 for description.
473 Anthropology of the Body and the Subject (ANTH 473) (3). See ANTH 473 for description.
484 Discourse and Dialogue in Ethnographic Research (ANTH 484, LING 484) (3). See ANTH 484 for description.
487 Folk Narrative (ENGL 487) (3). See ENGL 487 for description.
488 No Place like Home: Material Culture of the American South (AMST 488) (3). See AMST 488 for description.
490 Topics in Folklore (3). Topics vary from semester to semester.
495 Field Research (3). Research at sites that vary.
496 Directed Readings in Folklore (3). Permission of the department. Topic varies depending on the instructor.
502 Myths and Epics of the Ancient Near East (RELI 502) (3). See RELI 502 for description.
525 Culture and Personality (ANTH 525) (3). See ANTH 525 for description.
550 Introduction to Material Culture (3). An introduction to material folk culture, exploring the meanings that people bring to traditional arts and the artful creations with which they surround themselves (e.g., architecture, clothing, altars, tools, food).
560 Southern Literature and the Oral Tradition (3). Course considers how Southern writers employ folklore genres such as folk tales, sermons, and music and how such genres provide structure for literary forms like the novel and the short story.
562 Oral History and Performance (COMM 562, HIST 562, WMST 562) (3). See COMM 562 for description.
565 Ritual, Theater, and Performance in Everyday Life (COMM 362) (3). See COMM 362 for description.
571 Southern Music (HIST 571) (3). See HIST 571 for description.
585 British and American Folk Song (ENGL 585) (3). See ENGL 585 for description.
587 Folklore in the South (ENGL 587) (3). See ENGL 587 for description.
589 African American Folklore (ENGL 589) (3). See ENGL 589 for
610 Vernacular Traditions in African American Music (AFAM 610) (4). Explores performance traditions in African American music, tracing development from African song through reels, blues, gospel, and contemporary vernacular expression. Focuses on continuity, creativity, and change within African American aesthetics.
670 Introduction to Oral History (HIST 670) (3). See HIST 670 for description.
675 Ethnographic Method (ANTH 675) (3). See ANTH 675 for description.
684 Women in Folklore and Literature (ENGL 684, WMST 684) (3). See ENGL 684 for description.
688 Observation and Interpretation of Religious Action (ANTH 688, RELI 688) (3). See ANTH 688 for description.
690 Studies in Folklore (3). Topic varies from semester to semester.
691H Honors Project in Folklore (3). Permission of the instructor. For honors candidates. Ethnographic and/or library research and analysis of the gathered materials, leading to a draft of an honors thesis.
692H Honors Thesis in Folklore (3). Prerequisite, FOLK 691H. Writing of an honors thesis based on independent research conducted in FOLK 691H. Open only to senior honors candidates who work under the direction of a faculty member.
Courses for Graduate Students
790 Public Folklore (3). A graduate seminar addressing theory and praxis in public sector cultural work. Focusing on public folklore, this course explores broad issues of representation, cultural politics, and cultural tourism.
841 Performance Ethnography (COMM 841) (3). See COMM 841 for description.
842 Seminar in Performance and Cultural Studies (COMM 842) (3). See COMM 842 for description.
843 Seminar in Contemporary Performance Theory (COMM 843) (3). See COMM 843 for description.
850 Approaches to Folklore Theory (3). A systematic overview of the major issues and theoretical perspectives that have informed the study of folklore historically and that are emerging in contemporary scholarship.
860 Art of Ethnography (ANTH 860) (3). A field-based exploration of the pragmatic, ethical, and theoretical dimensions of ethnographic research, addressing issues of experience, aesthetics, authority, and worldview through the lens of cultural encounter. Field research required.
890 Seminar in Selected Topics (3). An irregularly offered graduate seminar exploring selected topics in the theory and practice of folklore.
891 Topics in Folklore (3). An irregularly offered graduate seminar exploring selected topics in the theory and practice of folklore.
895 Seminar in Folklore (3). An irregularly offered graduate seminar exploring selected topics in the theory and practice of folklore.
993 Master’s Thesis (3-6). Research in a special field under the direction of staff members.