Skip to Navigation Skip to Content
College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University



David Stowe

Prof. Stowe has won a fellowship from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music, and will be visiting at Yale in 2012-2013. Information on the fellowship can be found here.


Personal Homepage:

Office: 705 Wells Hall
Office phone: 517-353-4370


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

Principal Scholarly

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

Biographical Profile

My first research interests were jazz history and the pragmatist tradition in American philosophy; my first book was a cultural history of big-band jazz in the context of New Deal America. For three years I taught in a graduate school of American Studies at Doshisha University in Japan, where I became interested in studying American culture in a transnational context, with particular attention to the U.S. and Japan. I also began teaching a course on American sacred music which eventually resulted in my second book, How Sweet the Sound: Music in the Spiritual Lives of Americans (2004). I recently finished a book manuscript titled No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Rock and the Rise of the Religious Right, and am working with a filmmaker to make a documentary focusing on this topic.

My courses at MSU include a large lecture version of IAH 201, U.S. and the World, which investigates transnational flows of popular culture in and out of North America: an IAH 211B course on music and religion of the Asia-Pacific; and an American Studies graduate seminar on music, culture and power. I look forward to teaching Religious Studies classes focusing on music as lived religion both in North America and globally, and the politics of religion.

During the past spring and summer I created and taught two new courses for Religious Studies. The first was a new version of Myth, Self, and Religion; to check out a wide-ranging website on myth and religion created collaboratively by students in the class, go to The second was a brand new course, The Sound of World Religions, in which we explored the interplay between music, chant, and spirituality in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religions. Taking advantage of the World Cup, we made a brief digression to consider soccer as a religion and the spiritual significance of vuvuzelas. I look forward to teaching both these classes again during the upcoming academic year. Two publications have appeared in print in this summer: an article for the on-line journal Religion Compass entitled “Both American and Global: Jazz and World Religions in the United States,” and a 6,000 word article on “Christian Music” for the Encyclopedia of Religion in America, published by CQ Press. I have been invited to deliver a keynote lecture at Kettering University for the opening of an exhibition on WPA art at the Kettering Art Center, originally scheduled for August but pushed back to the fall. Finally, my book manuscript, No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism, is in production at University of North Carolina Press and should be in print early next year. In May I presented a lecture based on my book at the “Cool U” alumni conference sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters.

My latest book, No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism (UNC Press, 2011), can be viewed here. My book has been mentioned favorably on the U.S. Religion site, and has received a starred endorsement by the Library Journal.