Ellie M. Hisama

Professor of Music, Music Theory and Historical Musicology; Executive Committee, Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Office Address: 
609 Dodge
Office Hours: 
by appointment
(212) 854-1253

Ellie M. Hisama, Professor of Music, is a member of the Theory and Historical Musicology areas. Her research and teaching focus on interdisciplinary studies, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and the social and political dimensions of music. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality and has served as its Director of Graduate Studies. Her research interests include the visual arts, dance, film, theatre, collaborative works, and public engagement. Recent talks include a post-screening discussion of The Otolith Group's "The Third Part of the Third Measure: A Film About Julius Eastman" with visual artists and film directors Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar; a Society for Music Theory plenary talk about equity in the field of music theory at the intersection of gender and sexuality; a paper at the panel Acoustemologies in Context, Center for Musical Humanities, Herb Alpert School of Music, UCLA; and a paper on seeing queer black aurality in the work of Julius Eastman at Ithaca Sounding 2020: a festival/symposium, Department of Music, Cornell University.

She is directing or co-directing three events in 2020-21: Feed the Fire: A Cyber Symposium in Honor of Geri Allen (Thurs., 5 November 2020, co-director Michael Heller), Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston at 30: A Screening and Roundtable Celebrating Queer Harlem (Wed., 9 December 2020), and the symposium and podcast series Unsung Stories: Women at Columbia’s Center for Computer Music (9-10 April 2021, co-director Zosha Di Castri). 

Hisama is an inaugural recipient of the 2020 Faculty Mentoring Award established by the Office of the Provost; the award recognizes senior faculty who have demonstrated a clear commitment to faculty mentoring through their work with tenure-track and mid-career faculty in developing their careers. She is currently a Provost Leadership Fellow in a two-year university-wide program that "aims to develop leadership skills for some of Columbia’s outstanding mid-career and senior faculty." She received a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; a Tsunoda Ryusaku Senior Fellowship, Waseda University (Tokyo); and a Faculty Fellowship from the Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities. She and Zosha Di Castri have received three grants for 2020-21 for their project Unsung Stories: Women at Columbia's Computer Music Center: a Columbia University Faculty Seed Grant from the Office of the Provost, part of the university's initiative Addressing Racism: A Call to Action for Higher Education; a grant from the A&S Equity and Diversity events program, and a Public Outreach Grant from the Center for Science and Society. 

In 2020-21, Hisama will be in residence virtually at Michigan State University as part of its Distinguished Lecturers in Music Theory series and at Utah State University's Department of Music in the Caine College of the Arts. She was named the 2019 Kenneth H. Peacock Lecturer at the University of Toronto, the keynote speaker for the 2019 UT-Austin Graduate Music Conference: Music of the Americas, the 2017 Robert Samels Visiting Scholar at Indiana University, the 2016 speaker in the Judy Tsou ’75 Music Scholars Series at Skidmore College, and the 2015 Hartt Music Theory Forum speaker, and has delivered additional plenary and keynote addresses in Kanazawa, Montreal, Ann Arbor, Charlottesville, Columbus, and New York. Invited international talks in spring and summer 2020 at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Charles University in Prague, Zentrum für Genderforschung at Kunstuniversität Graz, and the Department of Analysis, History and Theory of Music, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien were cancelled after the COVID-19 crisis and will be rescheduled as possible. She is the author of Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon, which was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and co-editor of the volumes Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-century American Music and Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop StudiesShe is Founding Director of the workshop For the Daughters of Harlem: Working in Sound, a multi-year initiative with seed funding from the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research, which brings students from local public schools to campus to create, record, and reflect upon their work in sound. 

She has served on the Governing Board of the Society of Fellows/Heyman Center for the Humanities and as a member of the Columbia Working Group of AFRE (Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity), an organization based at Columbia and the Nelson Mandela Foundation whose mission is "to build an enduring transnational network of leaders across issues, approaches, and geographies to challenge anti-Black racism and build the institutions, policies and narratives for a more equitable future." She chaired the Humanities Equity Committee of the Policy and Planning Committee (PPC) and served as primary author of the Humanities section of its 2018 Equity report about the experience of faculty with regard to equity at the university. She chairs the Music Department's inaugural Committee on Inclusion and Diversity, serves on the A&S Committee on Equity and Diversity and the A&S Graduate Equity Initiative committee, and directed Agents of Change: A Symposium in Honor of Marcellus Blount (2019), which featured a solo performance by Lloyd Knight, Principal Dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company. 

She came to Columbia in 2006, having served as Director of the Institute for Studies in American Music [now the Hitchcock Institute] at Brooklyn College for seven years. She has served on the faculties of Brooklyn College, the City University of New York's Graduate Center, the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, Ohio State University, and Queens College/CUNY, and has held visiting appointments at Harvard University, Connecticut College, and the University of Virginia. She has directed or co-directed many international conferences, including Women, Music, Power (2015), Feminist Theory and Music 8 (2005), and a centennial festival celebrating composer and folk music advocate Ruth Crawford Seeger (2001). She has been nominated twice by Columbia College's Academic Awards Committee for the Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching. An alumna of Phillips Exeter Academy, her classroom teaching is strongly based in Exeter’s Harkness Method of collaborative learning.

Outside the academy, she has served as an advisor for the Smithsonian Institution's annual Folklife Festival on the National Mall; for The Annie Tinker Association for Women, established to support women in retirement; for the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS; and twice as a respondent at the Center for Jewish History's Jewish Music Forum. Her intersectional anti-racist scholarly writing has been featured internationally in publications including Slate, the Washington Post, Business InsiderNew Statesman (UK), Stone Music (Italy), and the Economic Times (India).

Daughters of Harlem Teaches Local Young Women to Record and Produce Their Own Music

Degrees from Other Institutions: 
with honors
English language and literature
University of Chicago
Music theory
City University of New York
Awarded the Barry S. Brook Dissertation Award in Music for the best dissertation of the year
Music theory
City University of New York


Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-century American Music, co-edited with Ray Allen. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2007.

Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies, co-edited with Evan Rapport. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Institute for Studies in American Music, 2005. 



Guest Editor (with Rachel Lumsden), Theory and Practice, vol. 45 (2021). 

Editor in Chief, Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, volumes 18-20 (2013-16).   

Founding Editor, Journal of the Society for American Music, vol. 1, no. 1-4 (2007); vol. 2, nos. 1-4 (2008).  

Editor, American Music, vol. 24, nos. 2, 3, and 4 (Summer, Fall, and Winter 2006). 



In press/forthcoming

“Acoustemologies of Context: A Response to Nina Eidsheim’s The Race of Sound,” Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relationship Ethnic Studies (forthcoming).

"Geri Allen and 'The Whole Feeling of the Connection'," Jazz & Culture 3, no. 2 (Fall 2020, in press).

“For the Daughters of Harlem: Bridging Campus and Community Through Sound” (co-authored with Lucie Vágnerová), in Sounding Together: Collaborative Perspectives on U.S. Music in the 21st Century, ed. Carol J. Oja and Charles Hiroshi Garrett (University of Michigan Press, in press). 

"Getting to Count," Music Theory Spectrum (forthcoming 2021).

“Popular Culture: Cultural Activism and Musical Performance,” in A Cultural History of Western Music in the Modern Age, vol. 6, ed. William Cheng and Danielle Fosler-Lussier (Bloomsbury, in press).

"Women composers and modernism, 1920–1945," in The Cambridge Companion to Women Composers, ed. Matthew Head and Susan Wollenberg (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).  

“'Not yet accepted as singing': Ruth Crawford’s 'To An Angel' from Chants for Women’s Chorus (1930)” in Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers, volume 4, ed. Laurel Parsons and Brenda Ravenscroft (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

Translation of “Improvising Women” into German by Berni Doessegger for publication in #0 (Zürich, in press), http://www.nr0.org/. Originally published in <<your own voice>>: Ein Kaleidoskop von improvisierte Musik (book celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Werkstatt für Improvisierte Musik, Zürich), ed. Jean-Pierre Reinle. Zürich: Chronos Verlag, 2001. 


“On seeing and hearing anew: On the Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf's Drum of the Waves of Horikawa,” ASAP/Journal [The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, named Best New Journal in Humanities by the Association of American Publishers, 2019] 4/1 (2019). https://muse.jhu.edu/article/723938

Forward to section “Decolonizing Sound” [essays by Alexa Woloshyn, Elliott Powell, and Liz Przybylski] in Popular Music and the Politics of Hope: Queer and Feminist Interventions, ed. Susan Fast and Craig Jennex. New York: Routledge, 2019. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781315165677

“Power and Equity in the Academy: Change from Within,” Current Musicology, special issue Sounding the Break: Music Studies and the Political 102, special issue edited by Tom Wetmore (Spring 2018). https://journals.library.columbia.edu/index.php/currentmusicology/issue/view/569

"A Feminist Staging of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia," Journal of the American Musicological Society 71/1 (April 2018), 237-43. http://jams.ucpress.edu/content/71/1/213.article-info

“‘Blackness in a white void’: Dissonance and Ambiguity in Isaac Julien’s Multi-Screen Film Installations,” in Rethinking Difference in Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Music: Theory and Politics of Ambiguity, ed. Gavin Lee, 168-183. New York: Routledge, 2018. 

“Considering Race and Ethnicity in the Music Theory Classroom,” in Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory ed. Rachel Lumsden and Jeff Swinkin, 252-66.  New York: W. W. Norton, 2018. http://diversity.societymusictheory.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-Hisama_Considering-race-and-ethnicity.pdf

“Improvisation in Freestyle Rap,” Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, vol. 2, ed. Benjamin Piekut and George E. Lewis, 250-57. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Also published online in Oxford Research Reviews. http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199892921.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199892921-e-24?print=pdf

“‘Diving into the Earth’: Julius Eastman’s Musical Worlds,” in Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship, ed. Olivia Bloechl, Jeffrey Kallberg, and Melanie Lowe, 260-86. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/rethinking-difference-in-music-scholarship/diving-into-the-earth-the-musical-worlds-of-julius-eastman/F5565C1BA2E30863484126EBAFAB163C/core-reader

“DJ Kuttin Kandi: Performing Feminism,” American Music Review XLIII, no. 2 (Spring 2014), http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/academics/centers/hitchcock/publications/amr/v43-2/hisama.php

“The Ruth Crawford Seeger Sessions," Daedalus: the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences 142/4 (Fall 2013), 51-63. https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/10.1162/DAED_a_00236

“Comment on AVANT’s interview with John Zorn,” AVANT: pismo awangardy filozoficzno-naukowej [AVANT: The Journal of the Philosophical-Interdisciplinary Avant-Garde, Torún, Poland] III, T/2012 (January-June, 2012). Translated into Polish. http://avant.edu.pl/en/t2012-2.

“From L’Étranger to ‘Killing an Arab’: Representing the Other in a Cure Song,” in Expression in Pop-Rock Music: A Collection of Critical and Analytical Essays, ed. Walter Everett, 59-74. New York: Garland Press, 2000; 2nd edition published by Routledge, 2007.

Introduction (co-authored with Ray Allen) to Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-century American Music, edited by Ray Allen and Ellie M. Hisama, 1-10. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2007.

“In Pursuit of a Proletarian Music: Ruth Crawford’s ‘Sacco, Vanzetti’,” in Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-century American Music, edited by Ray Allen and Ellie M. Hisama, 73-93. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2007.

“‘We’re All Asian Really’: Hip Hop’s Afro-Asian Crossings,” in Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies, edited by Ellie M. Hisama and Evan Rapport, 1-21. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Institute for Studies in American Music, 2005.

“John Zorn and the Postmodern Condition,” in Locating East Asia in Western Art Music, ed. Yayoi Uno Everett and Frederick Lau, 72-84. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2004.

“Feminist Music Theory Into the Millennium: A Personal History,” in Feminisms at a Millennium, ed. Carolyn Allen and Judith A. Howard, 276-80. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. Reprinted from special millennial issue of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 25/4 (Summer 2000). https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/495562

“Life Outside the Canon? A Walk on the Wild Side,” Music Theory Online 6.3 (2000), http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.00.6.3/mto.00.6.3.hisama.html

“Voice, Race, and Sexuality in the Music of Joan Armatrading,” in Audible Traces: Gender, Identity, and Music, ed. Elaine Barkin and Lydia Hamessley, 115-32. Zürich: Carciofoli Verlagshaus, 1999.

“The Question of Climax in Ruth Crawford’s String Quartet, Mvt. 3,” in Concert Music, Rock, and Jazz Since 1945: Essays and Analytical Studies, ed. Elizabeth West Marvin and Richard Hermann. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1995, 285-312.

“Postcolonialism on the Make: The Music of John Mellencamp, David Bowie, and John Zorn,” in Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music, ed. Richard Middleton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 329-46. Reprinted from Popular Music 12/2 (May 1993). https://www.jstor.org/stable/931292?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents 



Review of Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World by Howard Pollack (Oxford University Press, 2012), Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 69, no. 3 (Fall 2016), 833-40. https://doi.org/10.1525/jams.2016.69.3.835

Review of Understanding Charles Seeger, Pioneer in American Musicology, ed. Bell Yung and Helen Rees (University of Illinois Press, 1999), Music Theory Spectrum 24, no. 1 (Spring 2002), 142-149. https://doi.org/10.1093/mts/24.1.142

Review of Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship, ed. Ruth A. Solie (University of California Press, 1993) and Marcia J. Citron, Gender and the Musical Canon (Cambridge University Press, 1993) in Journal of Musicology XII, no. 2 (Spring 1994), 221-234. https://www.jstor.org/stable/763989



Agents of Change: A Symposium in Honor of Marcellus Blount. Editor of program booklet including twenty-six tributes by faculty, staff, and students about Marcellus Blount, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; event organized with the Committee on Equity and Diversity, Arts & Sciences, Columbia University, Low Library Rotunda and Faculty Room, March 2019. 

Remembrance: Randy Weston (1926-2018), The Bulletin of the Society for American Music XLV/1 (Winter 2019). https://www.american-music.org/page/BulletinWinter2019

Primary author of Division of Humanities section in the Policy and Planning Committee's Equity Reports for the Arts & Sciences at Columbia University (October 2018): https://fas.columbia.edu/home/diversity-arts-and-sciences/ppc-equity-reports 

Remembering Geri Allen, 1957-2017. Editor of booklet of twenty-four tributes presented at memorial celebration of pianist/composer/improviser/teacher Geri Allen at international conference Feminist Theory and Music 14, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, July 2017.  https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/geri-allen-symposium/files/geri_allen_tributes_booklet_ftm_july_2017.pdf

“Race/ethnicity in the profession.” Invited colloquy on Race, Ethnicity and the Profession, Musicology Now (official blog of the American Musicological Society), 1 December 2016. http://musicologynow.ams-net.org/2016/12/colloquy-race-ethnicity-and-profession.html

“Ruth (Porter) Crawford (Seeger).” In The Grove Dictionary of American Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, vol. 2, 470-474. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

“Feminist Scholarship as a Social Act: Remembering Adrienne Fried Block,” American Music Review XXXIX/1 (Fall 2009). http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/aca_centers_hitchcock/NewsF09.pdf

Liner notes for compact disc of Jason Kao Hwang, The Floating Box: A Story in Chinatown, New World Records 80626-2, 2005.

“Miriam Gideon,” Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Vol. 5, 1976-2000, ed. Susan Ware, 231-233. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Ruth Crawford Seeger: Tradition, Modernity, and the Making of American Music (conference booklet co-edited with Ray Allen). Brooklyn, N.Y.: Institute for Studies in American Music, 2001.

Liner notes for compact disc of music by Marion Bauer with pianist Virginia Eskin (Troy 465), 2001.

“Musicology: Feminist,” Reader’s Guide to Music: History, Theory, Criticism, ed. Murray Steib, 479-80. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999. 

Liner notes for compact disc Miriam Gideon: Music for Voice and Ensemble (CRI 782), 1998.



Doctoral Advising [all PhD dissertations at Columbia University unless otherwise indicated]

Sponsor [Advisor]: Completed

Elliott S. Cairns, “The Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv and the Emergence of Comparative Musicology.” PhD, 2020. Junior Designer, Columbia University Press; Adjunct Professor, Montclair State University. (Historical musicology)

Marc Hannaford, “One Line, Many Views: Muhal Richard Abrams, Music Improvisation, and Affordances.” PhD, 2019. Lecturer in Music Theory, Columbia University, 2019-20. Assistant Professor of Music Theory (tenure-track), University of Michigan, Fall 2020 - .  (Music theory)

Paula Harper, “Unmute This: Circulation, Sociality, and Sound in Viral Media.” PhD, 2019. Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Department of Music, Washington University in St. Louis, 2019-21. (Historical musicology)

William Mason, “Technological Embodiment and Affective Cognition in the Electroacoustic Music of Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail.” PhD, 2019. Assistant Professor of Music (tenure-track), Wheaton College (Mass.), Fall 2018 - . (Music theory)

Lucie Vágnerová, “Sirens/Cyborgs: Sound Technologies and the Musical Body.” PhD, 2016. Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University, Spring 2020. (Historical musicology)

Kate Heidemann, “Hearing Women’s Voices in Popular Song: Analyzing Sound and Identity in Country and Soul.” PhD, 2014. Director of AP Music Theory Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. (Music theory) 

Beau Bothwell, “Song, State, Sawa: Music and Political Radio Between the United States and Syria.” PhD, 2013. Awarded Whiting Fellowship. Assistant Professor of Music (tenure-track), Kalamazoo College. (Historical musicology)

Louise Chernosky, “Voices of New Music on National Public Radio: Radio NetRadioVisions, and Maritime Rites.” PhD, 2012. Music Director, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County. (Historical musicology)

Daniel Sonenberg, "'Who in the world she might be': A Contextual and Stylistic Approach to the Early Music of Joni Mitchell." DMA in composition, City University of New York, Graduate Center, 2003. Professor of Music and Resident Composer, University of Southern Maine. (Composition)

Sponsor: In Progress

Gabrielle E. Ferrari, "England's Singing Lad: Sexuality, Nation, and Men's Voices in English Art Song." (Historical musicology)

Velia Ivanova, “The Musical Heritage of Incarceration: The Dissemination and Management of the Lomax Collection Prison Songs (1933-2017).”  Recipient, 2019 Margery Lowens Dissertation Research Fellowship, Society for American Music. Instructor, Teaching Scholars Program, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University, 2019-20. (Historical musicology)

Toru Momii, "Rethinking Transpacific Boundaries: Analyzing Intercultural Performance in Contemporary Japanese Music." Recipient, Junior Fellowship in Japan Studies [support for dissertation research and writing], Weatherhead East Asian Institute, 2020-21. (Music theory)


Examiner for Graduate Certificate, Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Kate Heidemann (Department of Music); with examiner Alice Kessler-Harris. Field: Music theory, musicology, feminism. Director of AP Music Theory Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

Shenila Khoja-Moolji (Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Teachers College; with examiner Lila Abu-Lughod). Field: Girlhood Studies; Gender, Culture, and Human Rights. Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, Bowdoin College. 

Daniel da Silva (Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures; with examiner Elizabeth Povinelli). Field: Lusophone world, exploring feminist and queer articulations through performance, music, film, literature and political struggle at transformative moments throughout the XX and XXI centuries. Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Rutgers University (New Brunswick).

Alessia Palanti (Department of Italian; with examiner Marianne Hirsch). Field: Feminisms, Gender, Sexuality, Queer Theory, Cinema. Lecturer in Discipline, Columbia University; co-founder of New York City’s acrobatic and contemporary dance movement collective, Gravity.

Lucie Vágnerová (Department of Music; with examiner Alondra Nelson). Field: Technology, gendered labor, race, music, sound, and postcolonialism. Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University (Spring 2020).

Undergraduate Courses

Humanities W1123: Music Humanities

Women's Studies 2340: Women, Power, and Popular Music (Summer session 2020)

Music UN3310: Techniques of Twentieth-Century Music

Music UN3321: Music Theory III

Music UN3322: Music Theory IV

Music UN3385: Analysis of Popular Music

Music UN3395: Listening to Hip-Hop

Music UN3030: Asian American Music

Women's Studies UN3800: Feminist Listening (Awarded an inaugural IRWGS Curriculum Development Grant funded by the Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation)


Graduate Courses

Music G6333: Proseminar in Music Theory

Music G6385: Analysis of Popular Music

Music G8111: New Currents in American Music Studies [20th-century seminar] 

Music G8111: Julius Eastman [20th-century seminar] 

Music G8360: Gender/Sexuality/Music: History/Theory/Criticism

Music G8370: Ruth Crawford Seeger: Modernism and Tradition in 20th-century American Music

Music G8374: New Currents in Hip-Hop Studies 

Women's Studies G8001: Feminist Pedagogy