Vaughn A. Booker is an Associate Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies and the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College. As a historian of African American religions, he focuses on American subjects who engage in practices of (re)making simultaneously religious and racial identities, communities, and forms of authority. Vaughn's areas of interest include studies of religion and gender, leadership, conversion, popular music, humor, "race histories," memoir, visual/material culture, metaphysics/spirituality, memorialization/mourning, activism, and internationalism.
Two of Vaughn’s book projects center popular culture producers as alternative models for religious authority in Black America’s evolving religious landscape. His first book is Lift Every Voice and Swing (NYU Press, 2020), which explores the role of jazz celebrities like Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Mary Lou Williams as representatives of African American religion in the twentieth century. His second book project, ‘From the Back of the Church,’ is a history of “irreverent religion” in African American life from Emancipation to the present. To support this research, in 2022, he was awarded a Distinguished Junior External Faculty Fellowship with the Stanford University Humanities Center for the 2022-2023 academic year. In 2021, he was also awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship.
Vaughn co-chairs the Afro-American Religious History Unit of the American Academy of Religion. His other 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. He is currently an editorial board member for The Immanent Frame.
At Dartmouth, Vaughn teaches courses on Black religion and culture during Jim Crow, religion and the Civil Rights movement, contemporary Black religious/spiritual memoirs, religion and mourning/memorialization, and modern Black religious/spiritual communities.