Dr. Theresa Burris


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 have appeared in Appalachian HeritageAppalachian Journal, Appalachian Voice, 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.

Recently, Theresa collaborated with Professor of Dance, Deborah McLaughlin, on two Appalachian-themed dance/theater pieces, Sounds of Stories Dancing and Shadow Waltz. She’s currently working on three projects, Women of Change, Women of Courage: Appalachian ActivistsThe Country Store on White Oak Grove: A Children’s Story; and Coal Dust Curse: Collecting Oral Histories from Appalachian Miners with Black Lung.

She teaches classes on Appalachian literature, Appalachian cultural and social capital, Appalachian social and environmental justice issues, and place-based education. As a part of her community outreach, Theresa serves as a cultural consultant for the Free Clinic of the New River Valley and provides Appalachian cultural competency workshops throughout Southwest Virginia.

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, with her two sons, Paul and Campbell, and her husband, Dr. James L. Werth, Jr.