Javon Johnson

Director, African American & African Diaspora Studies
Assistant Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies
Expertise: African American Literature, Black Pop Culture, Poetry, Black Queer Theory, Black Feminist Theory


Javon Johnson’s research focuses on performance, blackness, African American literature, black pop culture, black feminist theory, black queer theory, masculinity studies, black sexualities, and ethnography.

Johnson -- a renowned spoken word poet -- is a three-time national poetry slam champion and a four-time national finalist. He has appeared on HBO’s "Def Poetry Jam," BET’s "Lyric Café," TV One's "Verses & Flow," "The Steve Harvey Show," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "United Shades of America with Kamau Bell" on CNN. He also co-wrote a documentary titled "Crossover," which aired on Showtime in collaboration with the NBA and Nike.

Johnson has also been published in numerous academic publications and national outlets such as Text & Performance Quarterly, Liminalities, QED: A Journal of Queer Worldmaking, The Root, and Huffington Post.



  • Ph.D., Performance Studies, Northwestern University
  • M.A., Communication Studies, California State University
  • B.A., Communication Studies, California State University

Javon Johnson In The News

Reno Gazette-Journal
January 20, 2021
Less than an hour before sundown, the men wrapped UNLV’s bronze Hey Reb! statue in a yellow sling and rigged it to a forklift.
Broadway World
December 17, 2020
Pasadena Playhouse has announced the launch today of In Development: Iceboy! on PlayhouseLive. This work gives an insiders' look at an unproduced theatrical work as it is introduced to the world for the first time. Join Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Adam DeVine and Laura Bell Bundy as they perform 4 new songs and give a rare early look at Iceboy!, a new musical by Mark Hollmann, Erin Quinn Purcell and Jay Reiss. This preview of Iceboy! is directed by Kevin Chamberlin with musical accompaniment by Jesse Vargas.
Larchmont Buzz
October 20, 2020
A pandemic is arguably not the optimal time to make theater, considering theaters are closed and actors can’t come within six feet of each other. Yet there’s some exciting work being done within pandemic parameters. This weekend I took in three remarkable performances developed during these locked-down days, as well as one recorded just prior to it (the riveting What the Constitution Means to Me, now on Amazon Prime)…plus three exhilarating Dodgers games. (Go, Dodgers!)
Broadway World
October 13, 2020
As one of the nation's most prominent spoken-word artists, and a three-time national poetry slam champion and a four-time national finalist, Javon Johnson now takes to The Pasadena Playhouse stage in STILL. to share his very personal experience growing up as a Black man in America at a pivotal time in our history. Recounted at breakneck speed, thankfully with captions, Johnson blends powerful imagery, witty prose and beautiful lyricism in this timely, unforgettable theatrical event which will fill your senses with wonder, knowledge, and the type of confusion that comes from the bombardment of too much information hitting your senses too quickly.

Articles Featuring Javon Johnson

Claytee White sits in a chair and gestures toward a woman sitting to her right
Arts and Culture | December 30, 2020
A sampling of university experts who sounded off on the year’s monumental movements surrounding race, ethnicity, and gender.
A portrait of UNLV's new president Keith Whitfield on campus.
Campus News | August 10, 2020
As summer heats up, so do the accomplishments on UNLV’s campus.
Protest signs read "Defund Police" and "Abolish Police"
Research | June 10, 2020
As more municipalities weigh the future of their police departments, UNLV professors explain what these movements mean and how they would work.
lizard surrounded by cameras
Campus News | September 3, 2018
A round up of news briefs from the fall 2018 issue of UNLV Magazine.