Professor (Sabbatical leave, Winter '23)
Ph.D. in Music History (1993), Stony Brook University
Professor Whitesell is the author of The Music of Joni Mitchell (Oxford, 2008). His book Wonderful Design: Glamour in the Hollywood Musical was published by Oxford in 2018. He has published articles on Benjamin Britten, Maurice Ravel, Charles Ives, film music, minimalism, modern tonalities, and the anxiety of influence. Other areas of interest include neo-Romanticism and modernist culture. An essay collection he coedited, Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity (Illinois, 2002), won the 2002 Philip Brett Award for excellence in LGBTQ musicology. His current research explores queer aesthetics by way of important creative personas (e.g., the Monster, the Trickster, the Dandy).
Professor Whitesell received a B.A. in Music and German Literature from the University of Minnesota. His dissertation used literary theories to explore images of identity in the dramatic and vocal works of Benjamin Britten. His musical training also included studies in piano and vocal accompaniment at the Peabody Conservatory, the Mozarteum Akademie, and the Minnesota Opera. He is an Associate Member of McGill's Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies.
Undergraduate courses include film music, modern piano literature, and opera since 1900; graduate seminar topics have included glamour, style in film music, queer monsters, theories of the audience, Bernard Herrmann, Joni Mitchell, and challenges to the concert format in recent performance.
Schulich School of Music Teaching Award, 2011.
Books and monographs
Wonderful Design: Glamour in the Hollywood Musical (Oxford, 2018).
The Music of Joni Mitchell (Oxford, 2008).
Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity, co-edited with Sophie Fuller (Illinois, 2002).
Articles in refereed journals
“Compromising Positions,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 66 (2013): 835-40.
“Musical Eclecticism and Ambiguity in The Sweet Hereafter,” American Music 29 (2011): 229-63.
“Concerto Macabre,” Musical Quarterly 88 (2005): 167-203.
“Britten’s Dubious Trysts,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 56 (Fall 2003): 637-94.
“White Noise: Race and Erasure in the Cultural Avant-Garde,” American Music 19 (Summer 2001): 168-89.
Articles/chapters in books and monographs
“Notes of Unbelonging,” in Benjamin Britten Studies: Essays on an Inexplicit Art, ed. Vicki P. Stroeher and Justin Vickers (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2017), 214-33.
“Love Knots: Britten, Pears, and the Sonnet,” in Rethinking Britten, ed. Philip Rupprecht (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 40-59.
“Erotic Ambiguity in Ravel’s Music,” in Ravel Studies, ed. Deborah Mawer (Cambridge, 2010), 74-91.
“Quieting the Ghosts in The Sixth Sense and The Others,” in Music in the Horror Film: Listening to Fear, ed. Neil Lerner (Routledge, 2010), 206-23.
“Trans Glam: Gender Magic in the Film Musical,” in Queering the Popular Pitch, ed. Sheila Whiteley and Jennifer Rycenga (Routledge, 2006), 263-77.
“Twentieth-Century Tonality, or, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” in The Pleasure of Modernist Music, ed. Arved Ashby (Rochester, 2004), 103-20.