man in blue button down smiling in front of orange brick building


Office: 705 Wells Hall
Office phone: 517-355-7575
Professor in Religious Studies


Ph.D., Yale University, 1993
B.A., Haverford College, 1983


U.S. cultural history, music and religion, jazz history


David W. Stowe is interim chair of the English Department at Michigan State University. During the 2012-13 academic year, Stowe held a research fellowship in Music, Worship, and the Arts at Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, where he researched and wrote an initial draft of a book manuscript on the cultural history of Psalm 137. His research and teaching interests focus on the 20th-century cultural history of the United States, particularly the study of vernacular music. His most recent book is No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism (UNC Press 2011, pbk. 2013). His previous book, How Sweet the Sound: Music in the Spiritual Lives of Americans (Harvard, 2004), won the Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP.

Stowe’s first book, Swing Changes: Big Band Jazz in New Deal America (Harvard, 1994), was published in Japanese translation by Hosei University Press in 1999. He has been interviewed about his work on NPR, consulted for PBS, and lectured on the subject of religion and music in America life for a variety of national organizations. Stowe has published a study of New York cabaret culture and politics in the 1930s and 1940s in the Journal of American History, where he regularly reviews books. He has also written articles on Japanese jazz artist Toshiko Akiyoshi, the musical history of Psalm 137 in the U.S. and Caribbean, whiteness studies, copyright and fair use for academic authors, and church conflict during the Great Awakening.

While on leave from Michigan State University, Stowe taught at Doshisha University’s Graduate School of American Studies in Kyoto, Japan, where he also served as Associate Dean. There he taught American Civilization, American Thought, History of American Religious Music, and workshops on research in American Studies. As part of his interest in the globalization of American Studies, Stowe has participated in international conferences of American Studies scholars in Japan, Korea, and Singapore. He is a founding member of the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Culture, a Michigan-based research institute that sponsors lectures and symposia by leading scholars from around the country.


  • ENG 210 Foundations of Literary Study
  • ENG 342 The Popular in Literature and Music
  • AMS 210 Introduction to American Studies
  • REL 205 Myth, Self, and Religion
  • REL 215 The Sound of World Religions
  • REL 175 Religion in Film
  • IAH 201 United States and the World
  • IAH 211 Sacred Music of the Asia-Pacific
  • MUS 410 Jazz History
  • AMS 881 American Studies Theory, Methods, and Bibliography
  • AMS 891 Music, Culture, and Power