Thomas S. Rankin

Thomas S. Rankin

Professor of the Practice in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies


  • M.F.A., Georgia State University 1987

  • M.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1983

  • B.A., Tufts University 1980


A photographer, filmmaker, and folklorist, Tom Rankin has been documenting and interpreting American culture for nearly twenty years. His books include Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta (1993), which received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Photography, 'Deaf Maggie Lee Sayre': Photographs of a River Life(1995), Faulkner's World: The Photographs of Martin J. Dain (1997), and Local Heroes Changing America: Indivisible (2000).


Photography, filmmaking, folklore


Beyond Beauty: Photographs from the Duke University Special Collections Library featured more than 80 original photographs, films, personal artifacts and rare... read more »
Over the last few decades, the radio documentary has developed into a strikingly vibrant form of creative expression. Millions of listeners hear arresting, intimate... read more »
Though artistic and ambitious, Paul Kwilecki (1928-2009) chose to remain in Bainbridge, Georgia, the small Decatur County town where he was born, raised, and ran the family's... read more »

Colors of Confinement: Color Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II. Ed. T Rankin and IT Hill. University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Jackson, B, and Christian, D. In This Timeless Time. Ed. IT Hill and TS Rankin. University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

Rankin, TS. Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound. Ed. T Rankin, IT Hill, J Biewen, and A Dilworth. 2010.

Rankin, T. Beyond Beauty: The Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University. Duke University, Durham: The Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, 2009.

Rankin, T. Local Heroes Changing America: Indivisible. W.W. Norton and Company/Lyndhurst Books, 2000. (Collection)

Rankin, T. "Judgment and Grace in Dixie." Judgment and Grace in Dixie. Ed. CR Wilson. The University of Georgia Press, 2007. (Essay)

Rankin, T. "Careful Tending." Last Harvest: Truck Farmers in the Deep South. Ed. P Dilbeck. University of Georgia Press, 2006. (Afterword)

Rankin, T. "Home and Away at 25." 25 Under 25: Up-and-Coming American Phogtographers. Powerhouse Books, 2003.

Rankin, T. "The Cruel Radiance of the Obvious." Southern Cultures (2011).

Rankin, T. "Maasai Community of Lakipia." (September 2009). (Essay)

Rankin, T. "Mike Seeger Remembered." Porch Gallery (2009). (Essay)

Rankin, T. "Paul Kwilecki Remembered." Porch Gallery (2009). (Essay)

Rankin, T. "Visualizing the World of William Faulkner." Ed. PJ Brownlee. American Studies International, Oct. 1998 XXXVI (2007).

Rankin, T. "Seeing What We Need To See." The Light Factory (2007).

Rankin, T. "Share a Table, Make a Friend." Appalachian Heritage (2007).

Rankin, T. "The Injuries of Time and Weather." Southern Cultures 13.2 (2007): 3-28.

Rankin, T. "Putting a Bottom Under It." Oxford American 49 (2005).

Rankin, T. "In Wildness (photo essay)." Daylight Magazine 1 (2004). (Essay)


Rankin, T. "The Last Days of Kitty Shenay." American Radio Works (2004).

Selected Grants

Film Fellowship awarded by Princess Grace Foundation-USA (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2016

UndraBorn: Extraordinary Children awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2010

Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life awarded by Mary Duke Biddle Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2008

Nuestras Historias/Nuestros Suenos: Our History/Our Dreams - Latino Immigrants in North Carolina awarded by Mary Duke Biddle Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2007

Gallery in the Classroom awarded by National Endowment for the Arts (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2002

Fall 2017

Doc Photo/south Culture (ARTSVIS 216.01)
Bridges 201, M 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
Doc Photo/south Culture (VMS 215.01)
Bridges 201, M 03:05 PM-05:35 PM

Spring 2016

Contemporary Documentary Films (VMS 264.02)
East Duke 209, Tu 01:40 PM-05:10 PM

Fall 2015

Doc Photo/south Culture (ARTSVIS 216.01)
Bridges 201, Th 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
Doc Photo/south Culture (VMS 215.01)
Bridges 201, Th 03:05 PM-05:35 PM

Spring 2015

Contemporary Documentary Films (VMS 264.01)
White 107, Tu 01:40 PM-05:10 PM
Contemporary Documentary Films (VMS 264.01M)
White 107, Tu 01:40 PM-05:10 PM

Spring 2014

Contemporary Documentary Films (VMS 264.01)
Nasher 105, Tu 01:40 PM-05:10 PM