Dr Ross Cole

Dr Ross Cole


I joined Leeds as Lecturer in Popular Music in 2022 after a five-year Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, where I also held a temporary Lectureship in 20th and 21st century music and served as Director of Studies at Homerton College.

I completed my PhD at King’s College Cambridge, an MA by Research at the University of York, and a BA at Christ Church Oxford, where I was awarded the Gibbs Prize. While at Cambridge I co-convened the ‘Auralities’ research network at CRASSH and was involved in leading a major redesign of the undergraduate music curriculum. I have been invited to speak internationally, including at Cambridge, King’s College London, Leeds, NYU, Oxford, University College Cork, and on ABC Radio National.

I am author of The Folk: Music, Modernity, and the Political Imagination (University of California Press, 2021) and co-editor of Remixing Music Studies: Essays in Honour of Nicholas Cook (Routledge, 2020).

My work has appeared in ASAP/Journal, Ethnomusicology, Popular Music, 19th Century Music, Twentieth-Century Music, the Journal of Musicology, the Journal of the Society for American Music, and the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, among other places. I have also contributed to edited collections on Mute Records and Stravinsky, as well as an industry report for Britten Pears Arts on digital interactivity.


  • Interim Director of Postgraduate Research Studies

Research interests

My work revolves around understanding the politics and poetics of popular culture. I’m particularly interested in moments of profound change, whether the fin de siècle, the 1960s, or the present. Although wide-ranging, my research is unified by a number of recurrent themes: nostalgia, radical politics, modernity, race, imagination, song, experimentalism, and the vernacular. My approach is defined by what I call ‘an ecological history of music’­—one that cuts insistently across disciplinary boundaries. I welcome potential PhD students who wish to work in or around these areas with me.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, University of Cambridge
  • MRes, University of York
  • BA (Hons), University of Oxford
  • LRSM Saxophone

Professional memberships

  • Royal Musical Association
  • British Forum for Ethnomusicology
  • International Association for the Study of Popular Music
  • American Musicological Society
  • Society for Ethnomusicology
  • International Council for Traditional Music
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>