Psyche Williams-Forson

Associate Professor & Acting Director of Graduate Studies
4103 Susquehanna Hall

For Graduate Program issues, email

Psyche Williams-Forson is an Associate Professor and served as Director of Graduate Studies from 2009 to summer of 2012 in the Department. She is an affiliate faculty member of the Women’s Studies and African American Studies departments and the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity . Her research and teaching interests include cultural studies, material culture, food, women’s studies, social and cultural history of the U.S. in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Her work on material culture and food has been published in her books Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World and the award-winning (American Folklore Society-Women’s Section) Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power. In the latter she examines the complexities of black women’s legacies using food as a form of cultural work. Her new research explores issues of class, entrepreneurship, and material culture in African American history and culture.

She is also the recipient of numerous fellowships including a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Diversity Fellowship, the Lord Baltimore Fellowship from the Maryland Historical Society, the Virginia Historical Society Fellowship and the Winterthur Museum and Library.


  • Ph.D., American Studies (Univ of Maryland, 2002)
  • M.A., American Studies, Women’s Studies Certificate (Univ of Maryland, 1994)
  • B.A., English/African American Studies, Women’s Studies (U of Virginia, 1987)

Select Publications:


  • Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World. Eds. Psyche Williams-Forson and Carole Counihan (Routledge, forthcoming fall 2011)
  • Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.


  • “Other Women Cooked for My Husband: Negotiating Gender, Food, and Identities in an African American/Ghanaian Household.” Feminist Studies 36.2 (Summer 2010): 435-461.
  • “African Americans and Food Stereotypes.” African American Foodways: Explorations of History and Culture. Ed. Ann Bower. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009).
  • “More than Just the ‘Big Piece of Chicken’: The Power of Race, Class, and Food in American Consciousness.” Food and Culture: A Reader. 2nd ed. Eds. Carole Counihan and Penny van Esterik (NY: Routledge, 2007)
  • “Suckin’ the Chicken Bone Dry: African American Women, History and Food Culture.” Cooking Lessons: The Politics of Gender and Food. Ed. Sherrie Inness. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) 200 – 214.

Courses Taught:


  • New Approaches to American Studies
  • Feminist Cultural Criticism in Diasporic Texts
  • Diasporic Cultures


  • Advanced Material Culture
  • Gender, Food, and Identity
  • Senior Seminar in American Studies