Retired Folk Studies and Anthropology Faculty
- University Distinguished Professor of Folk Studies, Emeritus
Ph.D., Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania
M.A., Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Anthropology, Franklin and Marshall College
I taught folklore at Western Kentucky University beginning in 1986. In 2004, I became the head of the newly created Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology. My research interests have included social and symbolic use of space in vernacular architecture, government policy and its impact on Appalachian communities, and cultural representation and the staging of tradition. I have also worked on various applied projects with my graduate students, including an oral history project documenting the former logging town of Ravensford, North Carolina, part of a larger cultural resource documentation effort accompanying a transfer of land from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. I have served as chair of the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board from 1993-2005 and I am an advisor to the Kentucky Oral History Commission. I have also been an active member of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, formerly serving as the newsletter editor and as a vice-president and board member. From 2014-2015, I was President of the American Folklore Society.
In 2019, Dr. Williams was recognized with the American Folklore Society's Kenneth Goldstein Award for Lifetime Academic Leadership.