Emily Hawk

20th Century U.S. Cultural & Dance Historian

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History

Columbia University



Emily Hawk is a twentieth century United States cultural historian and a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in U.S. history at Columbia University. Her dissertation, "Movements of Modern Dance: Black Choreography and Civic Education, 1965-1976," examines how a cohort of Black choreographers intervened in discourse on race, cultural identity, and civic engagement by performing beyond conventional theatrical settings and engaging diverse national audiences.

Hawk's research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Smithsonian Institution, the Rockefeller Archive Center, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, the New York State Archives, Emory University, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. It has also earned graduate awards from the Dance Studies Association (Selma Jeanne Cohen Award), Popular Cultural Association (William M. Jones Award), and Western Association of Women Historians (Perry Graduate Poster Prize).

Hawk's first publication is “The Choreographer as Intellectual: Alvin Ailey’s Ideas about Black Modern Dance” in the Journal of American Culture. She is a contributor to the blogs of the Gotham Center for New York City History and the Society for U.S. Intellectual History and has written book reviews for The Nation and History Today.  She also serves as rapporteur of the Studies in Dance University Seminar (2018-present) at Columbia University.  

Hawk is committed to her teaching practice and student mentorship, grounded by a love for the liberal arts. A 2021 finalist for Columbia's Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching and a Faculty Diversity Fellow, Hawk participates in Columbia's Teaching Development Program. She serves as an advisor to rural college applicants through the Fair Opportunity Project (2022-present) and is a former undergraduate academic advisor through Columbia's Center for American Studies (2019-2022).

Hawk earned an M.A. with distinction in dance history at the University of Roehampton and a B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in dance and history from Franklin & Marshall College. She lives in New York City with her husband Mark Harmon Vaught, a higher education administrator.

Upcoming Talks & Presentations

Lecture for the 92nd Street Y

"Join historian Emily Hawk as she explores the creation, choreography, and reception of Revelations and discusses the piece’s importance in the modern dance canon."

August 8, 2023
2:00 PM

The Mind is a Muscle: Dance as an Approach to History 

Methodological round table featuring Glory M. Liu, Julie Malnig, Anne Searcy, Siobhan Burke, Juliana DeVaan & Emily Hawk

Organization of American Historians
Annual Conference
April 11-14, 2024

Recent Works

Novel Ideas: Black Intellectual History and The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Society for U.S. Intellectual History Blog

April 2022

The Choreographer as Intellectual: Alvin Ailey’s Ideas about Black Modern Dance

Journal of American Culture 

Vol 44:3

September 2021

Stages, Streets, And Screens: The Geography Of NYC Dance In The 1960s-1970s “Dance Boom”

Gotham Center for New York City History Blog 

October 2020