Folklorist, Writer, Media Producer
Emily Hilliard is the West Virginia state folklorist and founding director of the West Virginia Folklife Program based at the West Virginia Humanities Council. She holds an M.A. in folklore from the University of North Carolina, and a B.A. in English and French from the University of Michigan.
For over the past ten years she has worked with cultural heritage and traditional arts institutions including Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the North Carolina Folklore Society, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and Maryland Traditions. She is a 2018 recipient of the Gerald E. and Corrine L. Parsons Fund Award and 2016 recipient of the Henry Reed Fund Award, both from the American Folklife Center. She currently serves on the board of the Appalachian Food Summit.
Hilliard is a co-editor of 55 Strong: Inside The West Virginia Teachers' Strike from BELT Publishing, and wrote the foreword to the new edition of Patrick Gainer's Folk Songs from the West Virginia Hills from West Virginia University Press. Her chapter, “‘The Reason We Make These Deep Fat-Fried Treats,:’ In Conversation with the Rosettes of Helvetia, West Virginia,” is included in the new collection, The Food We Eat, The Stories We Tell: Contemporary Appalachian Tables, out November 2019 from Ohio University Press. Her writing and media work have been published elsewhere by NPR, Southern Cultures, Lucky Peach, Ecotone Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, The Southern Foodways Alliance's James Beard award-winning quarterly Gravy, and the James Beard award-nominated Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, among others. From 2005-2016, Hilliard wrote and published the pie blog Nothing in the House, a finalist in The Kitchn's 2014 Best Baking & Sweets Homie Awards.
Hilliard has been a faculty member of the University of Michigan's New England Literature Program, and currently teaches in Marshall University's Graduate Humanities Program.
Her research and writing interests include foodways and vernacular music, women's domestic creativity, and the intersections between traditional, experimental, and radical culture. She is currently working on a book based on her folklife fieldwork in West Virginia, under contract with Ohio University Press.
She is also a musician and a co-founder of the intersectional feminist record label SPINSTER.
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