Zackary Vernon

Academic Specialty:

Zackary Vernon specializes in American literature and film. In particular, his work examines the intersections among environmental activism, philosophy, film, and literature from romanticism to the present. Vernon also has an abiding interest in studying the literary, cultural, and material history of Appalachia and the U.S. South. His research has appeared in a range of scholarly books and journals, including Journal of American Studies, Southern Cultures, and ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. Vernon is a co-editor of Summoning the Dead: Essays on Ron Rash (University of South Carolina Press, 2018), and he is the editor of Ecocriticism and the Future of Southern Studies (Louisiana State University Press, 2019). His creative nonfiction has been published in magazines and journals, such as The Bitter SouthernerNorth Carolina Literary Review, and Carolina Quarterly, and his YA novel Our Bodies Electric was published in the summer of 2024.


  • Ph.D., English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • M.A., English, North Carolina State University
  • B.A., English, Clemson University

Selected Publications:

Book Projects

  • Summoning the Dead: Essays on Ron Rash.
    This co-edited volume is the first book-length collection of scholarship on Ron Rash. The collection features the work of many leading scholars in southern and Appalachian studies, and it provides a disparate but related constellation of interdisciplinary approaches to Rash’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. University of South Carolina Press, 2018. Co-edited with Randall Wilhelm.
  • Ecocriticism and the Future of Southern Studies.
    This is the first book-length collection of scholarship that applies interdisciplinary environmental humanities research to analyses of the U.S. South. All of the essays in this collection demonstrate how the greening of southern studies and the southernization of environmental studies can catalyze alternative ways of understanding the connections between regional and global cultures and landscapes. Louisiana State University Press, 2019.
  • Literary Taxidermy: The Figure of the Hunter-Conservationist in American Literature and Culture.
    This monograph investigates the problematic figure of the hunter-conservationist in American cultural and literary history from romanticism to the present. Many writers, ranging from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau to Sarah Orne Jewett and Cormac McCarthy, have interrogated the paradoxical desire to conserve nonhuman life by destroying certain embodiments of it. While the characters in these texts taxidermize their killings, the texts themselves function as instantiations of literary taxidermy, immortalizing facets of the environment within the hermeneutic world of the text. My article “‘Being Myriad, One’: Melville and the Ethics of the Ecological Sublime in Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses,” which was published in Studies in the Novel, will serve as the foundation for two chapters on Melville and Faulkner.
  • Our Bodies Electric.
    YA novel. Regal House/Fitzroy Books. Summer 2024. 
  • A New American Vein: Critical Essays on Contemporary Appalachian Literature.
    This co-edited collection examines the current state of Appalachian literary studies. It features twenty essays on contemporary authors and is organized into the three subsections: Indigenous and Multicultural Appalachia, Queer and Feminist Appalachia, and Environmental(ist) Appalachia. Taken together, the contributors in these subsections create a chorus of voices emphasizing how much there is to celebrate, but also critique, in the region today. Under contract with Ohio University Press. Co-edited with Nicole Drewitz-Crockett.
  • Food on the Fringe: Adventures in Eating at the End of the World.
    This creative nonfiction book explores how eating outside of the industrial agricultural and capitalist restaurant systems leads to encounters with extremist individuals and fringe groups. While wrestling with the tension between individual versus structural solutions to ethical eating, Vernon worked on a certified organic farm and volunteered at a nonprofit community-supported restaurant, and he conducted interviews with a range of people, from reality TV stars to biologists, and from anarchists to self-proclaimed ecosexuals. Using Boone as a case study, Food on the Fringe provides a candid and humorous assessment of how it feels to desire to be an ethical eater and good environmentalist, all the while knowing you will inevitably fail. But the book also offers ways for us to fail better both because of emerging sustainable practices and because of radical shifts in thinking that are necessary as we try to attain food justice in a climate-changed world. The first chapter of this book was published in the North Carolina Literary Review 25 (2016): 26-40, and it also won the 2015 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize. Under contract with the University of North Carolina Press.

Academic Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Haunted by Waters: American Literature, Global Hydropolitics, and Environmental Justice.” Comparative American Studies. Forthcoming.
  • “‘A Yearning for the Mud’: Metafiction, Metafilm, and Bioregionalism in Robert Penn Warren’s Flood.” Mississippi Quarterly. Forthcoming.
  • “Hydrological Toxicity in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle.” Uncontained Toxicity: The Dialectics of Loss and Control. Eds. Gisela Heffes and Arndt Niebisch. Forthcoming.
  • “‘Some Sort of Conflict’: Hydrological Containment and Homoerotic Repression in John Cheever’s ‘The Swimmer’ and James Dickey’s Deliverance.” Southern Quarterly. Forthcoming.
  • “The Vine at the End of the World: Reimagining Kudzu in the U.S. South.” Understory: Plants of the American Tropics. Ed. Lesley L. Wylie. Liverpool University Press, 2023. 195-215. Co-authored with Jessica Martell.
  • “Faulkner’s Charismatic Megaflora: Critical Plant Studies and the U.S. South.” Journal of Modern LiteratureJournal of Modern Literature 45.3 (Spring 2022): 90-105.
  • “Appalachian Literature.” The Routledge Companion to Literature of the U.S. South. Eds. Katherine A. Burnett, Todd Hagstette, and Monica Carol Miller. Routledge, 2022. 16-19.
  • “Environmental Refugees.” The Routledge Companion to Literature of the U.S. South. Eds. Katherine A. Burnett, Todd Hagstette, and Monica Carol Miller. Routledge, 2022. 299-302.
  • "The Inebriation and Adaptation of Larry Brown’s Big Bad Love.” Southern Comforts: Drinking and the U.S. South. Eds. Conor Picken and Matthew Dischinger. Louisiana State University Press, 2020. 136-148.
  • “Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Bogfolk’: Apocalypse, Fertility Rites, and Irish History in The Road.” Swamp Souths: Literary and Cultural Ecologies. Eds. Eric Gary Anderson, Taylor Hagood, Kirstin Squint, and Anthony Wilson. Louisiana State University Press, 2020. 217-228. Co-authored with Jessica Martell.
  • "Farm Noir: Agriculture, Empathy, and Genre." John Alton: An Artist of the Moving Image. Ed. Leon Lewis. McFarland Press, 2020. 126-147. Co-authored with Jessica Martell.
  • “Culture Detectives: A New School of Contemporary Southern Nonfiction." Detecting the South in Fiction, Film, and Television. Eds. Deborah E. Barker and Theresa Starkey. Louisiana State University Press, 2019. 301-316.
  • "Southern Studies in the Age of the Anthropocene.” Ecocriticism and the Future of Southern Studies. Ed. Zackary Vernon. Louisiana State University Press, 2019. 1-20.
  • “Strange Agrarianisms: Transmutations of I’ll Take My Stand in James Dickey’s Deliverance and Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden.” Summoning the Dead:  Essays on Ron Rash. Eds. Randall Wilhelm and Zackary Vernon. University of South Carolina Press, 2018. 13-25.
  • “The Hum of Resurrection: Raising Rash to Critical Light.” Summoning the Dead: Essays on Ron Rash. Eds. Randall Wilhelm and Zackary Vernon. University of South Carolina Press, 2018. 1-9. Co-authored with Randall Wilhelm.
  • “Southern Cinematic Slumming: The Rough South Turn in Post-South Film.” The Bohemian South: Creating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk. Eds. Shawn Bingham and Lindsey A. Freeman. University of North Carolina Press, 2017. 148-164.
  • “Romanticizing the Rough South: Contemporary Cultural Nakedness and the Rise of Grit Lit.” Southern Cultures 22.3 (Fall 2016): 77-94.
  • “Toward a Post-Appalachian Sense of Place.” Journal of American Studies 50.3 (2016): 639-658. Forthcoming re-print in Appalachian Ecocriticism. Eds. Jessica Cory and Laura Wright.
  • “Reading the Forms of History: Plantation Ledgers and Modernist Experimentation in William Faulkner’s ‘The Bear.’” Fifty Years after Faulkner. Eds. Jay Watson and Anne J. Abadie. University Press of Mississippi, 2016. 168-188. Co-authored with Patrick Horn and Jessica Martell.
  • “The Anthropocene and the Future of Southern Studies.” Mississippi Quarterly 68.1-2 (Winter-Spring 2015): 32-34.
  • “‘Of Great Gabasidy’: Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and the Making of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” Journal of Modern Literature 38.3 (Spring 2015): 56-70. Co-authored with Jessica Martell.
  • “The Enfreakment of Southern Memoir in Harry Crews’s A Childhood.” Mississippi Quarterly. 67.2 (Spring 2014): 193-211.
  • “‘Being Myriad, One’: Melville and the Ethics of the Ecological Sublime in Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses.” Studies in the Novel 46.1 (Spring 2014): 63-82.
  • “The Problematic History and Recent Cultural Reappropriation of Southern Agrarianism.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 21.2 (Spring 2014): 337-352.
  • “Commemoration versus Commodification: Ron Rash and the Search for an Appalachian Literary Identity.” Appalachian Journal 42.1/2 (Fall 2013/Winter 2014): 104-23.

Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction

  • “Where Is Cold Mountain?” Cold Mountain Review (2023).
  • “George Singleton: The People’s Satirist.” The Bitter Southerner (January 2021).
  • “The Danger of Oral History.” Barely South Review 12.1 (2021).
  • “Wet Business.” Wraparound South (Spring 2021). 
  • “The Perils of Making Outer Space a Place.” Cold Mountain Review (Fall/Winter 2019).
  • “Where We Are: My Mundane Professional Life.” Composition Studies 47.1 (Spring 2019): 175-180. Co-authored.
  • “Crafting Local Souls: The Metafiction of Allan Gurganus.” NCLR Online 27 (2018): 13-18.
  • “Blast South: A Manifesto of Southern Vorticism.” Mississippi Quarterly 68.1-2 (Winter-Spring 2015): 5-10. Co-authored.
  • "Boone Summer: Adventures of a Bad Environmentalist." North Carolina Literary Review 25 (2016): 26-40. Winner of the Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize.
  • "Halloween's Herald of Democracy: Allan Gurganus and the Horror Show of American Politics." North Carolina Literary Review 23 (2014): 140-149.
  • "Walking Down Furrows, Talking Down Lines: The Polemics and Poetics of Wilmer Mills." The Carolina Quarterly 61.1 (2011): 34-43.
  • "The Role of Witness: Ron Rash's Peculiarly Historical Consciousness." The South Carolina Review 42.2 (2010): 19-24.

Interviews and Reviews

  • The Late Rebellion: An Interview with Mark Powell.” North Carolina Literary Review. Forthcoming. 2024 winner of the Randall Kenan Prize.
  • “‘To Love the South Surgically’: A Review of Mark Powell’s The Late Rebellion.” NCLR Online (Winter 2024): 64-65.
  • “‘Glutons for Local Color’: A Review of The Uncollected Stories of Allan Gurganus.” NCLR Online (Winter 2022): 106-107.
  • “Alabama Márquez: An Interview with Caleb Johnson.” Cold Mountain Review (Spring/Summer 2019).
  • “Writers Empowering Readers: An Interview with Allan Gurganus.” North Carolina Literary Review 27 (2018). 18-33.
  • “With Eyes to See It: A Review of Ron Rash’s Above the Waterfall.” NCLR Online 27 (2018): 30-32.
  • “Their Impulse toward the Terrain: An Interview with Robert Gipe.” Cold Mountain Review 45.2 (Spring/Summer 2017).
  • "Alternative Appalachia: A Review of Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean." Appalachian Journal 43.3-4 (Spring-Summer 2016): 246-250.
  • "From the Sublime to Destruction: An Introduction to Overburden and Interview with Documentarian Chad A. Stevens." Cold Mountain Review 44.2 (Spring 2016). Co-conducted with Sarah Beth Hopton.
  • "North Carolina Connections: An Interview with NCLR Editor Margaret Bauer." NCLR Online 25 (2015): 10-26. Reprinted in North Carolina Literary Review 25 (2016): 8-24.
  • "Overcoming the Southern Cult of Authenticity: A Review of Wiley Cash's This Dark Road to Mercy." NCLR Online 24 (2014): 98-100.
  • "Writing the Other World War: Terry Roberts and Ron Rash Discuss World War I, the German Internment Camp in North Carolina, and the Historical Novel." North Carolina Literary Review 23 (2014): 30-47.
  • "'Green Life Running Wild': Environmental Philosophy in Charles Frazier's Nightwoods." NCLR Online 22 (2013): 92-95.
  • "A Poet's Native Tongue: Ron Rash's Waking." The Carolina Quarterly 62.1 (2012): 112-115.
  • "Interview with Wilmer Mills." The Carolina Quarterly Online. July 2011.
Title: Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Department: Department of English

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-8127

Office address
Sanford Hall 544