Vaughn A. Booker

Assistant Professor of Religion and African and African American Studies

Vaughn received his A.B. in Religion from Dartmouth (’07), his M.Div. from Harvard, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton, with a Certificate in African American Studies. His focus is the historical study of twentieth-century African American religions, including religion and popular music, "race histories," gender and religious leadership, visual and material culture, African American metaphysical religions, practices of memorialization and mourning, and African American religious internationalism.  Vaughn's academic publications have appeared in The Journal of Africana Religions, Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, and the open-access journal Religions. Vaughn is also an alumnus of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. Recently, Vaughn was selected as one of 10 junior Religion faculty nationwide to be in the 2019-2020 cohort of the Young Scholars in American Religion Program (read the cohort profiles here).


305 Thornton Hall, Religion; 201 Choate House, AAAS


  • Ph. D. Princeton University
  • M.A. Princeton University
  • M. Div. Harvard University
  • A.B. Dartmouth College

Selected Publications

  • BooksLift Every Voice and Swing: Black Artistry and Religious Movement in the Jazz Century (New York: New York University Press, expected 2019/2020)

  • Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles"'God's Spirit Lives in Me': Metaphysical Theology in Charleszetta 'Mother' Waddles’ Urban Mission to the Poor," Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 22.1 (August 2018): 5-33, available (PDF available here)“Performing, Representing, and Archiving Belief: Religious Expressions among Jazz Musicians,” Religions 7 (8), 108 (2016): available“‘An Authentic Record of My Race’: Exploring the Popular Narratives of African American Religion in the Music of Duke Ellington,” Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation 25.1 (2015): 1-36, available“Civil Rights Religion? Rethinking 1950s and 1960s Political Activism for African American Religious History,” Journal of Africana Religions 2.2 (2014): 211-243, available

  • Book ReviewsReview of Ula Yvette Taylor, The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam (UNC, 2017), for Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion (2018), available of Lerone A. Martin, Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Shaping of Modern African American Religion (NYU, 2014) for Journal of Religion and Culture 25 (2015): 111-115, available

  • Encyclopedia Entries“Abraham Joshua Heschel,” “Mordecai Wyatt Johnson,” “George Dennis Sale Kelsey,” and “Benjamin Elijah Mays,” in The Martin Luther King, Jr., Encyclopedia, ed. Clayborne Carson, et al. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007).

Speaking Engagements

"The Dignity of Work Is the Theme of MLK Breakfast Address," Dartmouth News, January 22, 2019 (address write-up by Bill Platt)"Mary Lou Williams and a Calling to Care," Dartmouth Health Care Foundations, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, Hanover, NH, July 10, 2018 (event recap)“‘Pulpit and Pew’: African American Humor on Irreverent Religious Participation in the Negro Digest,” American Academy of Religion, Boston, MA, November 19, 2017


"The Dignity of Labor," Address at the Annual MLK Employee Breakfast Celebration, Dartmouth College, January 21, 2019 (YouTube video)Interview with Randall Balmer on Aretha Franklin’s life and legacy, The Briefing, SiriusXM, recorded 19 September 2018, broadcast 22 September 2018 Interview with Tiffanie Wen on the future of religion, “Eight Dartmouth Professors Peer into the Future (It’s not all scary.),” in Dartmouth Alumni Magazine (May-Jun 2018)"The False God of Nationalism," a piece for The New School's Public Seminar, January 9, 2018A 2017 interview with Professor Judith Weisenfeld of Princeton University, discussing her book, New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration  (NYU Pr.) in Religion & Politics.