Ellie M. Hisama

Professor of Music, Music Theory and Historical Musicology
Office Address: 
609 Dodge
(212) 854-1253

Ellie M. Hisama, Professor of Music, came to Columbia in 2006, having previously taught at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, where she was Director of the Institute for Studies in American Music [now the H. Wiley Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Music]. She has also taught at Harvard University, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Connecticut College, Ohio State University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Queens College/CUNY, and the University of Virginia. At Columbia, she has served as Vice Chair of the Department of Music and Area Chair for Music Theory. She is a member of the Theory and Historical Musicology areas. She chairs the Academic Review Committee (ARC), charged with overseeing the periodic review of all departments, centers, and institutes in the Arts and Sciences, and is a member of Columbia's Policy and Planning Committee, the body elected to represent the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to the Arts and Sciences and university leadership and the Collections Subcommittee of the Provost's Advisory Committee on the Libraries. She has served as Director of Graduate Studies of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia and and is a member of its Executive Committee. For 2017-18, she and her co-investigators Zosha Di Castri, Miya Masaoka, and Lucie Vagnerova were awarded a seed grant from the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research for a project titled For the Daughters of Harlem: Working in Sound, which will offer opportunities at Columbia for girls and young women of color in the community to engage with music--as composers, improvisers, sound artists, and thinkers--under the guidance of faculty, graduate students, and invited session leaders.

Author of Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon and co-editor of Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-Century American Music, she specializes in twentieth- and twenty-first-century music, post-tonal theory, American music, popular music, gender and feminist studies, critical studies of music and race, and the social and political roles of music. Her work has been published in the journals Daedalus, Popular Music, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, AVANT, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and American Music Review; and in the edited volumes Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship, The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation StudiesConcert Music, Rock, and Jazz Since 1945, Audible Traces: Gender, Identity, and Music, Locating East Asia in Western Art Music; Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies, and Ruth Crawford Seeger's Worlds. Her paper "On Race/Ethnicity in the Profession" appears in the colloquy Race, Ethnicity, and the Profession, published in Musicology Now, the blog of the American Musicological Society (December 2016). Her review of Howard Pollack's book on the composer Marc Blitzstein appears in the Fall 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Musicological Society

Her essay "'Blackness in a White Void': Dissonance and Ambiguity in Isaac Julian's Multi-Screen Film Installations" will appear in Rethinking Difference in Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Music: Theory and Politics of Ambiguity, ed. Gavin Lee (Routledge, in press) and her article "Considering Race and Ethnicity in the Music Theory Classroom" will be published in the Norton Guide to Music Theory Pedagogy, ed. Rachel Lumsden and Jeff Swinkin (W. W. Norton, in press). Her essay on Ruth Crawford's Chants for Women's Chorus will appear in Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers series (Concert Music, 1900-1960), ed. Laurel Parsons and Brenda Ravenscroft (Oxford University Press, under contract). She will contribute an essay on Britten's The Rape of Lucretia to the colloquy "Sexual Violence on the Opera Stage: How Musicologists Can Promote Resistance in the Twenty-First Century" to be published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (forthcoming 2018), and the forward to the section “Decolonizing Sound / Decolonizing Scholarship,” in Hearing the Political: Queer and Feminist Interventions in Popular Music Performance, ed. Susan Fast and Craig Jennex (New York: Routledge, under contract). 

She was named the Robert Samels Visiting Scholar at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, April 2017. During her three-day residency, she gave a music theory colloquium titled “'A Complex Dissonant Veil of Sound': Influence and Independence in Ruth Crawford’s Chants for Women’s Chorus” (1930); a Five Friends lecture titled "'Blackness in a White Void': Music in the Film Installations of Isaac Julien”; a workshop titled "Diversity and Inclusion in the Music Theory Classroom," and met with students and faculty. She was the 2016 speaker in the Judy Tsou ’75 Music Scholars Series at Skidmore College in October 2016. At Skidmore, she visited classes, met with students and faculty, and gave a public lecture titled "Passages: Modernism and Tradition in Transnational American Musics." In May 2017, she participated in the workshop “Interrogating the Nation/Repositioning U.S. Music in the 21st Century,” held at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, where she presented her work on the social and cultural activism of Asian Improv aRts.

She has presented papers at meetings of the Society for Music Theory, American Musicological Society, Society for Ethnomusicology, Society for American Music, Feminist Theory and Music, International Musicological Society (Tokyo), International Society for the Study of Popular Music (Kanazawa, Montreal, Denver), Modernist Studies Association, and National Women's Studies Association. She has given invited talks at many institutions, including Indiana University, Cornell University, Case Western Reserve University, Skidmore College, Hartt School of Music, the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, Duke University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan, Waseda University, Tokyo Geijutso Daigaku [Tokyo University of the Arts], the University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta, the University of Washington, McGill University, Stony Brook University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Virginia, the CUNY Graduate Center, and Wesleyan University.  She was also an invited participant at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard in the seminar Postcolonial Music Studies. 

She has received major research fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation/Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities; a Publication Subvention Grant from the Society for Music Theory; an R. F. Johnson Faculty Development Fund Award, Connecticut College; an Elizabeth D. Gee Award for Research on Women, Department of Women’s Studies, Ohio State University; a University Seed Grant, Ohio State University; an Overseas Matching Travel Grant, Ohio State University, and a Scholar Incentive Award, Brooklyn College. She held a Research Associateship at the Five College Women's Studies Research Center at Mount Holyoke College and a Tsunoda Senior Fellowship at Waseda University (Tokyo). She was awarded a grant from the Diversity Projects Development Fund, City University of New York, to support publication of the edited volume Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies, and received an inaugural curriculum development grant from the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, with support from the Heyman Center for the Humanities, to develop a new undergraduate seminar titled "Feminist Listening: Critical and Intersectional Approaches to Popular Music" and offered in Spring 2017.

She is chair of the 2018 Program Committee of the Music Theory Society of New York State, and chair of the H. Colin Slim Award Committee of the American Musicological Society (2017). She has served on the Publication Awards Committee of the Society for Music Theory (2013, 2014) and in 2017 chaired the the Society for American Music's Honors and Awards Committee which selects the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Distinguished Service Citation. She serves on the advisory boards of the new series Ashgate Studies of Music Theory and Analysis After 1900, the new series Music, Sound, and Social Justice, and the popular music book series Tracking Pop, published by the University of Michigan Press; she has also served on the board of the Journal of Popular Music Studies and on the editorial board of Echo: a music-centered journal. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the H. Wiley Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Music which she directed from 1999 to 2005 and is an Associate Editor of Perspectives of New Music.  

She has edited three peer-reviewed journals: Journal of the Society for American Music (JSAM) for which she was Founding Editor; American Music; and Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture. Two articles she edited for JSAM have won major awards: Christopher Reynolds's article "Porgy and Bess: 'An American Wozzeck'," published in JSAM 1/1 (February 2007), won two awards--the American Musicological Society's H. Colin Slim Award for "a musicological article of exceptional merit" by a senior scholar and the 2009 Kurt Weill Prize for "outstanding scholarship on music theater since 1900"--and Laurie Stras's article "White Face, Black Voice: Race, Gender, and Region in the Music of the Boswell Sisters," published in JSAM 1/2 (May 2007) won an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award in the Pop Articles category.

She organized with Ana Paulina Lee a residency in April 2017 at Columbia by choreographer/dancer Lenora Lee and filmmaker/musician Tatsu Aoki in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race's Transnational Asian|American series which included the New York premiere of their 2017 film LIGHT, a talkback with playwright David Henry Hwang and critical race theorist/performance studies scholar Karen Shimakawa, and visits by Lee and Aoki to classes in the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and Department of Latin American & Iberian Cultures.  She has served on the Society for Music Theory's Program Committee, Diversity Committee, and Committee on the Status of Women, and on the AMS's Program Committee, Publications Committee, and Council, as well as on the conference program committees of the Music Theory Society of New York State, International Association for the Study of Popular Music (U.S. branch), and Feminist Theory and Music. She has directed or co-directed several major conferences, including Women, Music, Power, a symposium that celebrated the work of Suzanne G. Cusick with a Festschrift launch, a concert, and an exhibit at the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library; Ruth Crawford Seeger: Modernity, Tradition, and the Making of American Music; Local Music/Global Connections: New York City at the Millennium; and Feminist Theory and Music 8, held in New York City in collaboration with New York University/FAS. 

She has served on the Governing Board of Columbia's Society of Fellows in the Humanities, as an evaluator for fellowships offered by the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Foundation, and the American Musicological Society (the Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50), and as a nominator for the Inamori Foundation which awards the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy. Outside the academy, she has served as a consultant for the Smithsonian Institution, WETA (Washington, D.C.), The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS (New York, NY), and The Annie Tinker Association for Women (New York, NY).

Undergraduate Courses Taught:

Humanities W1123: Music Humanities

Music V3321: Music Theory III

Music V3322: Music Theory IV

Music V3310: Techniques of Twentieth-Century Music

Music V3385: Analysis of Popular Music

Music V3395: Listening to Hip-Hop

Music V3030: Asian American Music

Women's Studies UN3800: Feminist Listening 

Graduate Courses Taught:

Music G6333: Proseminar in Music Theory

Music G6385: Analysis of Popular Music

Music G8111: Seminar in Historical Musicology: 20th Century [New Currents in American Music Studies]

Music G8360: Gender/Sexuality/Music 

Music G8370: Ruth Crawford Seeger

Music G8374: New Currents in Hip-Hop Studies 

Women's Studies G8001: Feminist Pedagogy

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