Willow G. Mullins specializes in folklore, the study of vernacular culture, with a special interest in material culture, economics, music, foodways, and death.
Since discovering Folklore Studies as an undergraduate, Mullins has been following a deep interest in the artistry of everyday life. From early work on Ozark charm practices, she began focusing on how material culture integrates ideas about tradition and authenticity with individual creativity. Taking the oldest textile form, felt, as a case study, Mullins traced the fabric from its origins in ancient Central Asia through to its modern uses in fine art and industry. This survey work formed a basis for a more in-depth analysis of the American marketplace for traditional art produced through global development projects. Her economic work has resulted in the edited book The Folklorist in the Marketplace: Conversations at the Crossroads of Vernacular Culture and Economics.
More recently, Mullins has been engaged in a number of research projects leading to publications on domestic horror and food in Shirley Jackson's novels, the unhomely and Irish national economics in Tana French's Broken Harbor, and a collaborative book on the gaps created by implicit disciplinary boundaries, entitled Implied Nowhere: Absence in Folklore Studies. Mullins' current research largely returns to material culture: centering on the materiality of death in modern America, an edited volume on biopolitics, environmental sustainability, and weatherlore, and an ethnography of uilleann pipe makers.