Ellie M. Hisama

Professor of Music, Music Theory and Historical Musicology
Office Address: 
609 Dodge
Office Hours: 
On leave, Spring 2018
(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 is a member of the Theory and Historical Musicology areas and has served as Vice Chair of the Department of Music and Area Chair for Music Theory. She is a member of Columbia's Policy and Planning Committee (PPC), the body elected to represent the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to the Arts and Sciences and university leadership and is Chair of the Humanities Equity Committee of the PPC, which has prepared a report on equity issues affecting the thirteen Humanities Departments at Columbia. 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. With Associate Director Lucie Vágnerová, she organized and directed a day-long workshop in April 2018 titled For the Daughters of Harlem: Working in Sound with funding from the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research, the Society of Fellows/Heyman Center for the Humanities, and IRWGS. It offered opportunities at Columbia for young women of color from eight New York public schools to engage with music technology--as composers, improvisers, sound artists, and thinkers--under the guidance of workshop leaders Professors Miya Masaoka, Zosha Di Castri, Courtney Bryan, and David Adamcyk.

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 essay "A Feminist Staging of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia" appears in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (April 2018) in a colloquy on sexual violence in opera. Her article "Considering Race and Ethnicity in the Music Theory Classroom" was published in the Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory, ed. Rachel Lumsden and Jeff Swinkin (W. W. Norton, 2018). Her paper "On Race/Ethnicity in the Profession" appears in Musicology Now, the blog of the American Musicological Society (2016). 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). 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 to Sounding the Break: Music Studies and the Political, a special issue of Current Musicology edited by Tom Wetmore, and the forward to the section “Decolonizing Sound and 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 2019 Kenneth Peacock Lecturer at the University of Toronto, the 2017 Robert Samels Visiting Scholar at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, and was the 2016 speaker in the Judy Tsou ’75 Music Scholars Series at Skidmore College. In 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 received major research fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation/Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities. 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 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," first offered in 2017.

She will chair the Society of Music Theory's SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship Committee, and served as chair of the 2018 Program Committee of the Music Theory Society of New York State. She serves on the advisory boards of the new series Music and Social Justice, the new series Ashgate Studies of Music Theory and Analysis After 1900, and the book series Tracking Pop. 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. She co-organized a residency at Columbia in 2017 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 and a talkback with playwright David Henry Hwang and critical race theorist/performance studies scholar Karen Shimakawa. She has directed or co-directed several major conferences, including Women, Music, Power; 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. 

She has taught at Harvard University, City University of New York's Graduate Center, Connecticut College, Ohio State University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Queens College/CUNY, and the University of Virginia. 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, and the Herb Alpert Awards. Outside the academy, she has served as a consultant for the Joyce Foundation (Chicago), Smithsonian Institution, 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