Faculty and Staff


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 at Radford University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate multidisciplinary classes on Appalachia.

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,” will be included in the international collection, Ecofeminism and Literature, edited by Douglas Vakoch.

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. She serves as Appalachian cultural consultant for the Community Health Center of the New River Valley, and is a board member for the nonprofit organizations Appalachian Community Fund, Appalachian Sustainable Development, and MountainTrotter. She serves as Education Committee Chair for the Appalachian Studies Association.

In her spare time, Theresa enjoys running, hiking, and kayaking throughout the Appalachian region. She lives on a nontraditional106-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 ten domesticated animals, and various wild animals.



Ricky Cox has an MA in English from Radford University, a BA in History from Radford, and an AAS in Machine Technology from New River Community College. A native of Floyd County, VA, he teaches, American Literature, an introductory course on the Appalachian region, and Appalachian Folklore. He is also Coordinator of the Farm at Selu, a replicated 1930s farmhouse at Radford University’s Selu Conservancy. His research interests include the history of technology in the U.S., and the literature, music, and folk culture of the Appalachian South. His publications include short fiction, reviews, literary criticism, and essays on various topics, many related to Appalachian culture. He is a coeditor of A Handbook to Appalachia: An Introduction to the Region (UT Press 2006) and co-author ofThe Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County, VA: Illustrated Histories, 1770-2010 (McFarland Publishers, 2010).

Contact: rcox@radford.edu



Ruth Derrick is a transplant to Appalachia from the Midwest. She earned her BS and MS in English from Radford University as well as a graduate certificate in Appalachian Studies.

Ruth teaches Introduction to Appalachian Studies, a survey course that introduces students to the region. In the fall of 2015, she helped plan and lead SON, Semester On the New, an experiential learning course that included a week of camping and canoeing on The River.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she coordinates a program titled Appalachian Arts and Studies In the Schools which pairs Radford University students with area high school students in mentoring roles. Ruth also facilitates The Highland Summer Conference, a creative writing course now in its 40th year at Radford University.