Dr. Theresa Burriss

Theresa L. Burriss has a BA from Emory University in Atlanta, an MS from Radford University, and a PhD from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati. She serves as the Chair of Appalachian Studies and Director of the Appalachian Regional & Rural Studies Center. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Appalachian HeritageAppalachian Journal, Appalachian Voice, Journal of Appalachian Studies, and The New River Voice.  She has published several pieces of literary criticism on the Affrilachian Writers, including chapters in An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature (Ohio UP 2005) and Appalachia in the Classroom: Teaching the Region (Ohio UP 2013), for which she served as co-editor with Dr. Patricia Gantt. Theresa’s chapter, “Ecofeminist Sensibilities and Rural Land Literacies in the Work of Contemporary Appalachian Novelist Ann Pancake,” will be included in the forthcoming collection, Ecofeminism and Literature, coedited by Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey.

Theresa has collaborated with Professor of Dance, Deborah McLaughlin, on three Appalachian-themed dance/theater pieces, Eating Appalachia: Selling Out to the Hungry Ghost, Sounds of Stories Dancing, and Shadow Waltz. During the summer of 2015, she was fortunate to be selected to participate in the two-week NEH Summer Institute, “Transcendentalism and Reform in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller,” in Concord, MA. In October 2015 Theresa presented with colleagues Dr. Christine Small and Dr. Rick Roth at Transilvania University in Brasov, Romania, at the Appalachian-Carpathian Mountain Conference.

She teaches classes on Appalachian literature, Appalachian cultural and social capital, and Appalachian social and environmental justice issues. As a part of her community outreach, Theresa serves as a cultural consultant for the Community Health Center of the New River Valley and provides Appalachian cultural competency workshops throughout Southwest Virginia. She serves on three nonprofit boards for Appalachian Community Fund, Appalachian Sustainable Development, and Mountaintrotter. As the Chair of the Education Committee for the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA), she serves on the ASA steering committee.

In addition to her teaching and research, she works to combat discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Theresa resides in Washington County, Virginia, on Gwendolyn Ridge, a 96 wooded acre plot, with her two sons, Paul and Campbell, and her husband, Dr. James L. Werth, Jr.