Carter became interested in Proust while reading In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past) as a graduate student at the University of Georgia. He continued his study of Proust for his Ph.D. dissertation at Indiana University.
As a leading scholar in the crowded field of Proustian studies, Carter has authored a biography of the French writer and co-produced a documentary film about his life. He spent 34 years teaching at UAB before retiring in order to be able to travel and lecture more freely. Before leaving he was instrumental in securing a large collection of Proust-related material for the university's Mervyn H. Sterne Library.
- The Proustian Quest. (1992) New York: New York University Press ISBN 0814714706
- Marcel Proust: A Life. (2000) New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press ISBN 0300081456
- Proust in Love. (2006) New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press ISBN 0300108125
- The Memoirs of Ernest A. Forssgren: Proust’s Swedish Valet. (2006) New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press ISBN 030011463X
- Mondale, Sarah, director. Marcel Proust: A Writer's Life (1993)
- Wolfson, Hannah (January 17, 2009) "UAB's Proust expert retires." Birmingham News
- "Former University of Alabama at Birmingham professor William Carter wins humanities award." (August 16, 2009) Birmingham News
- William C. Carter profile at uab.edu