The Fragment and the Long Song of Julius Eastman

Tue, March 2, 2021 12:45 PM at Zoom (if you wish to attend, please email Michael Callahan at

Dr. Ellie Hisama, Professor of Music at Columbia University, presents a guest lecture at Michigan State University. The event is free and open to the public. It will take place via videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would like to attend, please contact Michael Callahan, Music Theory Area Chairperson, at

Lecture Abstract

This talk examines the ways in which the archive of the composer, pianist, and vocalist Julius Eastman (1940-1990) performs an act of refusal. Eastman’s subjectivity as a queer African American musician and the narratives about his life strongly resonate with researchers and the public who are eager to excavate the work of Black artists and musicians. In writing a “long song” about Julius Eastman, this project brings together the fragments of Eastman’s work, focusing on his radical sonic expressions of and commentary on black being in compositions from the 1970s and 1980s. It serves as an initiative in music studies that offers tangible pathways of listening to Julius Eastman’s uncompromising and fierce musical engagements of refusal. 


Dr. Ellie HisamaEllie Hisama is Professor of Music and a member of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University, where she has taught since 2006. The author of Gendering Musical Modernism, she has published widely on topics that were until recently well outside of the mainstream, including on the composer and folk music advocate Ruth Crawford, representations of Asian women in popular music, and the composer, singer, and artist Julius Eastman. Her essay “Geri Allen and ‘The Whole Feeling of the Connection’” will appear in the next issue of Jazz and Culture. She is Founding Director of the workshop For the Daughters of Harlem: Working in Sound, a multi-year initiative that brings students from local public schools to campus to create, record, and reflect upon their work in sound. With Zosha Di Castri, she is directing the symposium, podcast series, and concert titled Unsung Stories: Women at Columbia’s Computer Music Center, which will take place in Spring and Fall 2021. She will become the next Dean of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music in July.