John M. Vlach

John M. Vlach
Professor of American Studies and Anthropology
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Folklife; material culture; vernacular architecture; art and crafts. Regional foci: Southern U.S., Caribbean, West Africa.

Dr. Vlach is a leading expert on American material culture, especially African American and Caribbean decorative arts, folk architecture, and historic preservation.


Ph.D. 1975, Indiana University
B.A. 1970, University of California at Davis



2003  Vlach, J.M. Barns. New York: W.W. Norton. Norton/Library of Congress Visual Sourcebooks series. (Winner of the 2003 Kniffen Prize for Best Book on North American Material Culture).

2002  Vlach, J.M. The Planter's Prospect: Privilege and Slavery in Plantation Paintings. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

1993  Vlach, J.M. Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

1990  Vlach, J.M. The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts, revised ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Selected Articles and Online Publications

2008  Vlach, J.M. "Rooted in Africa, raised in America: The traditional arts and crafts of African-Americans across five centuries." In Freedom's Story: Teaching African American Literature and History. National Humanities Center TeacherServe. Online at

2004  Vlach, J.M. "The mysterious Mr. Jenkins of Jenkins Hill: The early history of the Capitol site," The Capitol Done (spring). Washington: U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

Classes Taught

AmSt 2530 (old 145): Folk Arts in America
AmSt 2532 (165)/Anth 2532 (192): Introduction to Folklore
AmSt 2533 (160)/Anth 2533 (130): Material Culture in America
AmSt 6561 (257)/Anth 6561 (297): Seminar: American Folklife
AmSt 6562 (256)/Anth 6562 (296): Folklore Theory