Erika D Gault
- Assistant Professor, Africana Studies
- Member of the Graduate Faculty
Erika Gault’s scholarly work demonstrates a sustained focus on the impact and outcomes of religion and technology in Black life. Currently, she is most intrigued with the use of online social networks in both the research and curation of religious life among Black young adults. On the topic of Hip Hop, religion, and/or digital ethnography she has delivered and published a number of papers regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Given her innovative approach to ethnography, she was awarded the Louisville First Book Grant for minority scholars for the 2018-2019 academic school year. She has just completed her first book, currently under contract with NYU Press. Recently published works include the co-edited volume Beyond Christian Hip Hop: Towards Christians and Hip Hop (2019) and the Fall 2020 Special Edition of Fire!!!: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies titled “ ‘My People Are Free!:’ Theorizing the Digital Black Church” for which she served as the guest editor.
She is an ordained elder at Elim Christian Fellowship and an award winning slam poet. She is currently working on her first book project titled No Matter What They Think of Me: Black Millenials, Hip Hop and the New Black Church and a co-edited volume entitled You Gon' Learn Today: The Aesthetics of Christians in Hip Hop.
- Ph.D. American Studies
- State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, United States
- No Matter What They Think of Us: The Religious Beliefs and Practices of Gospel Rappers in Buffalo, NY
- M.A. Religion
- Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, New York, United States
- The Times Have Run Ahead of Us: The Student Lockout
- B.A. Political Science/African American Studies
- New York University, New York, New York, United States
- Hilbert College (2009 - 2017)
- Arizona Champion Award
- University of Arizona, Fall 2019
Licensure & Certification
- Ordained Elder, Elim Christian Fellowship (2015)
Hip Hop and Religion, Black Millennials, Digital Media
African American History, Research Methods, African American Studies, Black Religion
Afr Dispora Rel+CultrAFAS 160A2 (Fall 2021)
Independent StudyAFAS 399 (Fall 2021)
Senior CapstoneAFAS 498 (Fall 2021)
Afr Dispora Rel+CultrAFAS 160A2 (Summer I 2021)
Afr Dispora Rel+CultrAFAS 160A2 (Fall 2020)
Senior CapstoneAFAS 498 (Fall 2020)
African American RelAFAS 344 (Spring 2020)
African American RelRELI 344 (Spring 2020)
Senior CapstoneAFAS 498 (Spring 2020)
Introduction- Africana StudiesAFAS 200 (Fall 2019)
Intro African Amer StudyAFAS 220 (Spring 2018)
Intro African Amer StudySOC 220 (Spring 2018)
AFAS Research ApproachesAFAS 302 (Fall 2017)
Intro African Amer StudyAFAS 220 (Fall 2017)
Intro African Amer StudySOC 220 (Fall 2017)
- Gault, E. D., & Harris, T. (2019). Beyond Christian Hip Hop: Towards Christians and Hip Hop. Routledge.More infoChristians and Christianity have been central to Hip Hop since its inception. This book explores the intersection of Christians and Hip Hop and the multiple outcomes of this intersection. It lays out the ways in which Christians and Hip Hop overlap and diverge. The intersection of Christians and Hip Hop brings together African diasporic cultures, lives, memories and worldviews.Moving beyond the focus on rappers and so-called "Christian Hip Hop," each chapter explores three major themes of the book: identifying Hip Hop, irreconcilable Christianity, and boundaries.There is a self-identified Christian Hip Hop (CHH) community that has received some scholarly attention. At the same time, scholars have analyzed Christianity and Hip Hop without focusing on the self-identified community. This book brings these various conversations together and show, through these three themes, the complexities of the intersection of Christians and Hip Hop. Hip Hop is more than rap music, it is an African diasporic phenomenon. These three themes elucidate the many characteristics of the intersection between Christians and Hip Hop and our reasoning for going beyond "Christian Hip Hop."This collection is a multi-faceted view of how religious belief plays a role in Hip Hoppas' lives and community. It will, therefore, be of great interest to scholars of Religion and Hip Hop, Hip Hop, African Diasporas, Religion and the Arts, Religion and Race and Black Theology as well as Religious Studies more generally.
- Gault, E. D. (2018). Performing to the Rhythm of Justice: Martin Luther King’s Speeches and the Urban-Digital Contex. In Reframing Urban Ministry: 21st Century Contexts and Considerations. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminister John Knox Press.More infoThis article explores King’s influence as an artist, crafting a new context for our existential being in the world. In particular, it applies King’s prophetic vision to the present urban context. I first explore a number of King’s speeches in the context of the mid- 20th century Civil Rights movement situating his work within a larger body of socially conscious performance art of the time. I argue that such speech acts worked to craft new worlds of possibilities for audiences in mostly urban communities.
- Gault, E. D. (2020). "My People Are Free": Theorizing the Digital Black Church. Fire!!! The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies.
- Gault, E. D. (2018). “When Saints Found Out…”: Tasha Cobbs, Nicki Minaj, and the Policing of Black Christianity Online. Fire!!!, 5(1), 26.More infoBlack Christians were a buzz across social media platforms at the release of the third gospel music album of Tasha Cobbs. The new album boasts many of the same musical elements of her earlier works. Cobb’s signature sound is marked by a strong contralto, paired with equally formidable lyrics. Tasha Cobbs is known for crossover hits like “Break Every Chain” which topped Billboard Gospel Songs charts, ranked twenty-nine on Billboard Adult R&B charts, and earned her first Grammy win in 2014. The 2017 release of “Heart. Passion. Pursuit.” was meant to offer audiences a mature album, integrative of diverse internationally-known recording artists and a unique and intimate sound. This objective was achieved, through the use of diverse instrumentation, iconic recording artists and lyricists, and perhaps most notably, a guest appearance by Nicki Minaj. Minaj’s lyrical contribution, while providing clever wordplay, offers listeners a conventional hip hop Christology. Given the staidness of Minaj’s lyrical contribution to Cobb’s album, as well, the volume of similar collaborations during the same period by other hip hop and gospel artists, the question to consider is, “Why did the Minaj/Cobb’s collaboration receive particular scrutiny from gospel music fans on social media platforms?” Qualitative research for this study indicates that digital black Christianity mimics rituals of Black Church shaming offline in its censure and censor of the black female body.ii Alternatively, given the diverse space for self-representation and new identity-making online, in ways unachievable in the Black Church, digital black Christianity is also marked by black women’s use of digital spaces to expose and disrupt persistent and painfully oppressive narratives regarding their bodies. While such analysis of the black female body in digital spaces has been taken up elsewhere, this work focuses on its appearance within digital spaces frequented by self-identified Christians. In the following pages, I employ black feminist/womanist theory and performance theory regarding identity and representation to briefly discuss the shape of my digital ethnography of this phenomenon, the topical ranges of criticism lodged against Tasha Cobbs and Nicki Minaj, and what it suggests for understanding digital black Christianity.iii
- Gault, E. D. (2020, September/2020). Viral Faith: Black Young Adults and The Digital Black Church. History Department Brown Bag Colloqium. Zoom: Arizona History Department.
- Gault, E. D. (2019, March). Black Lives Matter: Taking Back Our Voices and Bodies. NCBS Annual Conference. New Orleans, LA: NCBS.More infoI served as moderator for this conference session
- Gault, E. D. (2019, March). It’s Complicated: Jackie Hill-Perry and the Complex Notion of Sexual Freedom Among Christian Black Millennials. American Academy of Religion Annual Regional Conference. Phoenix: AAR.
- Gault, E. D. (2019, March). Social Crisis and Gentrification. National Council of Black Studies Annual Conference. New Orleans, LA: National Council of Black Studies.More infoI served as Moderator for this panel conference session
- Gault, E. D. (2019, March). “Beyond the Black Church: The Complex Cost of Digital Black Christian Labor,”. National Council of Black Studies Annual Conference. New Orleans, LA: National Concil of Black Studies.
- Gault, E. D. (2019, November). Hip hop is at the core of who I am: " (Re) Defining Black Christian Millennials. American Academy of Religion Annual Conference. San Diego, CA: AAR.
- Gault, E. D. (2019, October). Beyond the Black Church: The Digital-Religious Lives of Black Millennials. Tucson Humanities Festival. Tucson: Humanities Department.
- Gault, E. D. (2018, Fall). To Be Black, Christian, and Millennial Online: A Digital Ethnography of the Breakfast Club. American Academy of Religion. Denver, CO: AAR.
- Gault, E. D. (2018, Fall). “My Life as A Stud”: Jackie Hill Perry and P4CM’s Embodiment of Black Sexuality. Show and Prove 2018 Hip Hop Studies Conference. Riverside, CA: University of California.More infoRapper and poet Jackie Hill Perry first gained popularity among black Christian millennials for her spoken word performance titled “My Life as a Stud” in which she details her move from identifying as a lesbian to a heterosexual woman. Perry later released a rap album, titled “The Art of Joy.” Perry represents a nascent voice within black Christian young adult circles. This voice adheres at times to white evangelicalism and at other times firmly critiques white supremacy. Inspired by both the culture and sound of hip hop, artists like Perry, through an organization called Passion for Christ Movement (P4CM), have amassed a critical following mostly through social media. While identifying with hip hop Christian black millennials continue to wrestle with troubling binaries of homophobia/inclusion, social justice/discrimination. This paper speaks to the following conference question, “How does Hip Hop feminism remix our understanding of misogyny, homophobia, & transphobia where hip hop religious voices are concerned?” Beginning with an examination of Jackie Hill Perry’s artistic work, this paper focuses on how Perry frames sexual freedom and the embodiment of black possibility in dexterous racial-religious performances. Such performances are unpacked and critiqued. Her rap lyrics, sermons, and poetry are taken up here in light of Brittany Cooper’s recent work on black women’s intellectual production and the works of other hip hop and religion scholars like Monica Miller, which proposes that black women’s public intellectualism presents- not a problem- but an opportunity for discussion and growth in the academy and beyond.
- Gault, E. D. (2017, October). More Than Meets the Eye: Black Millennial Religiousity in America. Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Cinnicinati: ASALAH.More infoThis paper focuses on the inherent flaws in the way we currently study black millennials. I attempt to argue for a qualitative approach that takes seriously the role of digital technology in informing and mediating black millennial belief. This approach to the study of black millennials is particularly useful given its move away from the simple exploration of black millennials' Christian beliefs as connected to the traditional black church. Instead the "black digital diaspora" must be acknowledged and given its rightful place in the Black Church Studies lexicon, that is the way in which black millennials use online tools in the reformation and reconfiguration of the Black Church online.
- Gault, E. D. (2020, October). Godtalk- Digital #Black Faith Panel Discussion. National Musuem of African American History and Culture. https://nmaahc.si.edu/god-talk