Faculty and Staff


Theresa L. Burriss, Associate Professor, 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 Director of Appalachian Studies and the Appalachian Regional & Rural Studies Center at Radford University. Additionally, she is Radford University’s Director of Academic Outreach for the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. She teaches graduate Appalachian literature, undergraduate and graduate multidisciplinary classes on Appalachia, and doctoral classes on place-based education and critical theories.

Theresa was awarded a Fulbright Teaching & Research grant to Romania for fall 2021. She will teach Appalachian literature with a coal focus to English and American Studies students at Transilvania University in Brasov and conduct ethnographic research in the Jiu Valley, Romania’s coalmining region.

Theresa has published 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 Patricia Gantt. Her chapter, “Ecofeminist Sensibilities and Rural Land Literacies in the Work of Contemporary Appalachian Novelist Ann Pancake,” is part of the collection, Ecofeminism and Literature: Intersectional and International Voices (Routledge 2018), edited by Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey. Her photos and contextual essay, “Benham, Kentucky, Coalminer and Wise County, Virginia, Landscape” are included in Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy (West Virginia UP 2019), edited by Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll. “Raven, Woman, Man: A/Religious Ecocritical Reading of Jim Minick’s Fire Is Your Water” will appear in Appalachian Ecocriticism (Louisiana UP 2022), edited by Jessica Cory and Laura White.

She was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to serve a two-year term on the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice from 2021 – 2023. She was awarded an NEH Summer Institute Grant for the 2015 “Transcendentalism and Reform in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller” in Concord, MA. As the U.S. co-chair for the 2019 Appalachian-Carpathian Mountain Conference, she worked with her Transilvania University colleagues, Dr. Georgeta Moarcas and Dr. Cristian Pralea, to plan the conference in Brasov and Petrila, Romania. Theresa is a board member for the nonprofit organization Appalachian Sustainable Development, and serves on the steering committee for Opportunity SWVA.

In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking, and kayaking throughout the Appalachian region. Theresa lives on a nontraditional 120-acre farm and artist retreat, Gwendolyn Ridge, in Washington County, VA, with her two sons, Paul and Campbell, her husband, Dr. James L. Werth, Jr., their eleven rescue animals, and various wild animals.