Marcie Cohen Ferris



Born and raised in northeastern Arkansas, Ferris’s deep attachment to the study of place and the American South is rooted in her childhood. For over forty years, she has studied, documented, interpreted, exhibited, taught, and written about the South, largely through its foodways, material culture, and the southern Jewish experience. She’s committed to fostering the creative economies of a diverse, equitable, vibrant region.

As a professor emeritus in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ferris is an editor for Southern Cultures, a quarterly journal of the history and cultures of the U.S. South.  From 2006-2008, she was president of the board of directors of the Southern Foodways Alliance.  She was co-chair of UNC Chapel Hill’s pan-university academic theme, FOOD FOR ALL: LOCAL AND GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES, 2015-2018. And, under her leadership, a food studies minor was initiated at UNC Chapel Hill in 2018. 

Ferris’s major publications include: The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region and Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South, and she co-authored Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History. She’s currently working on her next book with UNC Press, Edible North Carolina: A Journey Across a State of Flavor, exploring the contemporary food movement in the Tar Heel State. 

Currently, Ferris serves on the board of directors for FEAST DOWNEAST, whose food hub and mobile farmers’ markets are helping to build to a healthy, accessible local food system in southeastern North Carolina. She resides in Chapel Hill with her husband, folklorist and Southern Studies scholar, Bill Ferris, and their two badly behaved Labrador Retrievers. 


photo credits: Donn Young