Joan Titus

Joan Titus

  • Associate Professor
  • Music - Musicology
  • 252 Music Building
  • 336-334-3301

Joan Titus examines cultural politics of audiovisual media, with a focus on the intersections of nationalism, ethnicity, and gender in music for cinema. She has conducted research in Russia, the US, and Morocco, and produced research on the themes of Soviet and Russian film music, indigeneity and power, transnationalism and music festivals, and the intersectionality of gender, race, and nationalism in screen media.

Dr. Titus is currently working on several projects on Russian sound and screen media, including a trilogy of books on Dmitry Shostakovich’s film music career. The first of these books, The Early Film Music of Dmitry Shostakovich (Oxford University Press, 2016) provides examinations of narration and the intricacies of cultural politics in Shostakovich’s early film scores. Her forthcoming second book, also with Oxford University Press, continues this examination through case studies of his scores from 1936 to 1953, and maps out Shostakovich’s negotiation of the Soviet film industry and his maturity as a film composer by the end of Stalinism. The final book of the trilogy addresses film music making and Shostakovich’s work during the Thaw and Stagnation through 1971.

In her other publications, she examines cultural politics specific to indigeneity and transnational identities, gender and sound in cinema, and issues surrounding early modernist Russian film scoring. She is currently working on essay projects that addresses questions of gender in Soviet and Russian film scores, and the transnational slippage between Soviet/Russian and US filmmaking and scoring.

Dr. Titus has published in various edited volumes, encyclopedias, and journals including American Historical Review, American Music, and Russian Review. She has given invited talks and spoken at conferences in the U.S. and abroad, including the American Musicological Society, Society for Ethnomusicology, Society for American Music, International Musicological Society, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and the Southern Conference on Slavic Studies. Her research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2017–2018), NEH Summer Stipend (2016), the AMS 75 PAYS Publication Subvention, multiple fellowships from the U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS), and several institutional awards.

Dr. Titus teaches a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate courses on cultural politics in musics across the world, Russian and Soviet music, gender and feminism in music, music and screen media, and surveys of concert and stage music of European/US American traditions. She developed and taught the undergraduate UNCG General Education course “Music for Film,” and teaches advanced graduate seminars on music and screen media, audiovisual media in Russia and the US, indigenous music in the US, and transnational music in Russia, United States, and North Africa. She currently serves as an editor forMusicology Now, the online platform for theAmerican Musicological Society; and curates and organizes theIrna Priore Music and Culture Lecture Seriesat UNCG. She has also served as co-president of the Sound and Music Studies SIG for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.


  • Ph.D., Musicology, concentrations in Film Studies and Russian Studies, The Ohio State University
  • M.A., Musicology, concentrations in Film Studies and Russian Studies, The Ohio State University
  • B.A., Music History, minor in Art History, University of Arizona

Select Publications


Dmitry Shostakovich and Music for Stalinist Cinema (Oxford University Press, in progress)
The Early Film Music of Dmitry Shostakovich. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Book Chapters

“Schauspiel und Filmmusik: Maxim-Trilogie bis in die 1950er Jahre.” In Schostakowitsch-Handbuch, edited by Dorothea Redepenning and Stefan Weiss. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler (Barenreiter), in progress, 16 pages.
“Schauspiel und Filmmusik: Die späten Werke (ab Hamlet, 1964).” In Schostakowitsch-Handbuch, edited by Dorothea Redepenning and Stefan Weiss. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler (Barenreiter), in progress, 6 pages.
“Experimentalism and the ‘Mainstream’ in the Early Film Scores of Gavriil Popov and VladimirShcherbachyov.” In The Routledge Companion to Global Film Music in the Early Sound Era, edited by Jeremy Barham. New York: Routledge Press, forthcoming. Approximately 25 pages.
“Shostakovich, Arnshtam, and the Women’s Soviet War Film.” In Music in European Cinema,Volume 2, edited by Michael Baumgartner and Ewelina Boczkowska. New York: Routledge Press, in press. Approximately 25 pages.
“A Tale of Two Cinemas: Zashchitniki (Guardians, 2017) and Music for the New RussianSuperhero Film.” In Music in Action Film: Sounds Like Action!, edited by James Buhlerand Mark Durrand, 181–200. New York: Routledge Press, 2020.
“Silents, Sound, and Modernism in Dmitry Shostakovich’s Score to the New Babylon (1928–1929).” In Sound, Speech, and Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema, edited by MashaSalazkina and Lilya Kaganovsky, 38–59. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.
“Dmitry Shostakovich as Film Music Theorist.” In Music and Politics in Twentieth-CenturyEurope: Essays in Memory of Neil Edmunds, edited by Pauline Fairclough, 249–260. London: Ashgate Press, 2012.
Waila as Transnational Practice.” In Transnational Encounters. Music and Performance at theU.S.-Mexico Border, edited by Alejandro Madrid, 149–167. Oxford: Oxford UniversityPress, 2011. (AMS Ruth A. Solie Award Winner, 2012.)
Essay and Translation of “About the Music to the New Babylon” by Dmitry Shostakovich. InFilm Music: Source Readings, 1910–1951, edited by James Wierzbicki, Colin Roust, andNathan Platte, 61–64. London: Routledge Press, 2011.
“Socialist Realism, Modernism, and Dmitry Shostakovich’s Odna (Alone, 1931).” InShostakovich Studies 2, edited by Pauline Fairclough, 100–120. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Encyclopedia Entries, Bibliographic Articles, Conference Reports

“Russian Film Music.” Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies. Ed. Krin Gabbard.New York: Oxford University Press, in progress.
“Bernard Herrmann.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies. Ed. Krin Gabbard.New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.
“Reflections on Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Seattle 2019.” Music, Soundand Moving Image 13, no.1 (Spring 2019): 59–82. Co-authored with James Buhler, Eric Dienstfry, Brooke McCorkle, and Katherine Quanz.
“Human Rights, Music and.” In The Sage Encyclopedia of Ethnomusicology, edited by Janet L.Sturman, 1090–1094. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2019).

Book Reviews

Review of Performing Tsarist Russia in New York: Music, Émigrés, and the AmericanImagination by Natalie Zelensky. American Music, forthcoming.
Review of This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia by JoanNeuberger. American Historical Review, 126, issue 2 (June 2021): 876–877.
Review of Stalin’s Music Prize: Soviet Culture and Politics by Marina Frolova-Walker. RussianReview, 76, No. 4 (October 2017): 756.
Review of The Struggle for Control of Soviet Music from 1932 to 1948: Socialist Realism vs.Western Formalism, by Meri Herrala. Russian Review 72, No.2 (April 2013): 317–318.

Courses Taught at UNCG

Graduate Courses

  • Music 706, Doctoral Research Seminar, “Music and Visual Cultures in the Indigenous U.S.”
  • Music 706, Doctoral Research Seminar, “Music and Media”
  • Music 706, Doctoral Research Seminar, “Music and Cinema”
  • Music 686/786, Twentieth Century Music (Topic: Social Justice and Audiovisual Media)
  • Music 686, Twentieth Century Music (Topic: Image and Sound)
  • Music 606, Research Seminar, “Music and Image”
  • Music 606, Research Seminar, “Music and Politics in the Russian/Soviet Imaginary”
  • Music 606, Research Seminar, “Musical Narrative in African and American Film”
  • Music 606B, Research Seminar, “Music and Narrative”
  • Music 606C, Research Seminar, “Soviet/Russian Film Music”
  • Music 606, Research Seminar, “Shostakovich and Film”
  • Music 602, Seminar in Music Research and Writing
  • Music 526, Overview of Western Music History

Undergraduate Courses

  • Music 492, Senior Capstone for B.A. in Music
  • Music 486, Twentieth Century Music (Topic: Social Justice and Audiovisual Media)
  • Music 486, Twentieth Century Music (Topic: Image and Sound)
  • Music 400x/600x, Gender & Audiovisual Cultures in the US & Russia
  • Music 333, History of Western Music III for music majors
  • Music 332, History of Western Music II for music majors
  • Music 242, Music for Film
  • International and Global Studies 213, Introduction to Russian Studies
  • Music 120, Freshman Listening Seminar