New Faculty: Ambre Dromgoole

Ambre Dromgoole

Provost's New Faculty Fellow (starting in July 2024 as Assistant Professor), Africana Studies

Academic focus:  

My areas of expertise include, but are not limited to, African American women’s history, Black feminist theory, religion, ethnomusicology, performance and sound studies. My work centers the composition, perception and projections of Black sacred soundings across different social contexts, the ways that gender is (re)constituted in these spaces and the artistic innovation that occurs outside the purview of traditionally recognized social, educational and ecclesial institutions.

Current research project: 

My current project is the first of its kind to document the 20th century history of itinerant women gospel musicians as a collective, paying particular attention to their musical trainings as girls in Afro-Protestant contexts as well as their formation in the entertainment industry. It asks what the combined lived experiences, sonic performances and working-class consciousness of missionaries turned gospel blues progenitors can reveal about Black cultural hybridity, legibility, plurality and music education and practice. The girls and women I engage constantly find themselves negotiating the spaces where the plain-clothed culture of Black Christian respectability encounters the space of sexual and musical social risk reflected in blues culture and the economy of sex.

Academic background:

  • Ph.D., African American studies and religious studies, Yale University, 2023 
  • M.Phil/M.A., African American studies and religious studies, Yale University, 2021 
  • M.A., Religion, Black religion and the African diaspora, Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music, 2017 
  • B.A., Music and religious studies, Oberlin College and Conservatory, 2015 

Last book read: 

“Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford 

In your own time/when not working: 

I love going on long walks (sometimes hikes, sometimes not), making music and enjoying new music projects, spoiling my four beautiful nieces, and rewatching episodes of Sister, Sister or whatever 90s Black sitcom fits my fancy at the time. 

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching: 

There are so many! I'll mention two: Wayward Women's History, which is a course I've conceptualized around Saidiya Hartman's “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval,” and Hold My Mule: Literary and Sonic Approaches to the Study of Black Religion. 

What most excites you about Cornell: 

There's such a refreshing air of discovery, experimentation, and preservation here, in regards to both the intellectual and physical landscape. I am excited to get to know the many spaces that encourage what seems to be a community brimming with creativity. 

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Ambre Dromgoole