Wilson Center Experts
William R. Ferris
Ferris, the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History, is a leading voice on Southern studies, music and folklore. He joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina in 2002.A native of Vicksburg, Miss., and an award-winning scholar, Ferris chaired the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1997 to 2001. Before that, he was founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he was a faculty member for 18 years.Ferris has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films, most of which deal with black music and other folklore from the Mississippi Delta. He co-edited the massive "Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" (1989), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His films include "Mississippi Blues" (1983), which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. His many honors include the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities from former President Bill Clinton, the American Library Association's Dartmouth Medal and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award.