Headshot of historian Emily Hawk

Emily Hawk

20th Century U.S. Cultural Historian

Department of History

Columbia University



Emily Hawk is a twentieth century United States cultural historian and final-year Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University. Her current research, "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 Archives, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, New York State Archives, Emory University, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. It has also earned accolades 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 article "Civic Education and Artistic Innovation on New York City’s Dancemobile, 1967-88" is in press with the Journal of Urban History. Her most recent 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 is an organizer for the upcoming Dance, History & the Social Sciences Conference, to be hosted by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia.

Hawk is committed to teaching 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).

Prior to Columbia, 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

Preserving Local Dance Histories and Cultures

Panel discussion with Candace Thompson-Zachery, Pia Agrawal, and Emily Hawk

Snug Harbor Dance Festival 2023
September 24, 2023, 12:30pm

Dance, History & the Social Sciences

Conference organized  by Emily Hawk and Juliana DeVaan

Columbia University
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
December 2023

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 Work

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 

September 2021