Section Navigation

The Edible and Visual South: UNC scholars visit Appalachian Sept. 15

By Ellen Gwin Burnette

BOONE, N.C.—Southern scholars Marcie Cohen Ferris and William R. Ferris of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill will be on campus for two events Friday, Sept. 15, in Belk Library and Information Commons Lecture Hall 114. At 3:30 p.m., Cohen Ferris will speak about how food – as cuisine and as commodity – has expressed and shaped southern identity. Ferris’s talk from 6 – 8 p.m. will focus on his photography and documentary film work.

View larger imageView larger imageView larger imageView larger image

Cohen Ferris is a professor of American studies at UNC Chapel Hill and writes on southern history and culture, with a particular interest in the foodways and material culture of the U.S. South, the history of the Jewish South and American Jewish identity and culture. Cohen Ferris will speak on “The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region,” also the title of her most recent book, published in 2014 by UNC Press.

Cohen Ferris’s book and her talk will examine how food serves as a way to chronicle the South’s larger history from colonial settlements and antebellum plantations, to New South cities and Civil Rights-era lunch counters. Topics range from chronic hunger and agricultural reform to counterculture communes and iconic restaurants of the evolving South.

She is also the author of the award-winning “Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South” (UNC Press, 2005), which was nominated for a 2006 James Beard Foundation Award. Currently, she is working on a multi-tiered project involving teaching, research and publication on “Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats: Foodways of North Carolina,” as an exploration of the Tar Heel state’s vibrant and historic food cultures.

Cohen Ferris, along with her colleague Alice Ammerman (UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention), co-chairs the University of North Carolina’s pan-university campus theme (2015-17), “Food For All: Local and Global Perspectives,” which is about advancing both campus and community engagement to address issues such as hunger, sustainable agriculture, food justice, entrepreneurial creativity and economic development.

William “Bill” Ferris, former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Bill Clinton, is the Joel Williamson Professor of History at UNC Chapel Hill. He is also the senior associate director of UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South.

Ferris is an acclaimed folklorist, photographer, blues scholar and documentary filmmaker. He has published 10 books, including “The South in Color: A Visual Journal” (UNC Press, 2016), “The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists” (UNC Press, 2013) and “Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues.” He has made 15 documentary films, many of which deal with African-American music and folklore representing the Mississippi Delta. He co-edited the Pulitzer Prize-nominated “Encyclopedia of Southern Culture” (UNC Press, 1989), which is widely recognized as a major reference work linking popular, folk and academic cultures.

Ferris will discuss his most recent book, “The South in Color,” a provocative color photograph collection from the 1960s and 1970s of his family’s farm in Vicksburg, Mississippi, as well as people and places in the region.

In addition, on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 11 a.m., the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum will host a reading and book signing for “The South in Color.” Ferris will give a short presentation from the book before providing an assessment of the current state of the humanities.

These events are co-sponsored by the Department of English, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Humanities Council, the Center for Appalachian Studies, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies, and the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM).


About the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, two stand-alone academic programs, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university’s strengths, traditions and unique location. Our values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of our students as global citizens. There are approximately 5,850 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.