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Theo Cateforis

Theo Cateforis

Theo Cateforis

Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music History & Cultures and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Fine Arts


Art and Music Histories
308 J Bowne Hall
Office: 315.443.4835


Ph.D. Music History, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2000


Courses Taught

  • American Popular Music
  • European and American Music Since 1800
  • The History of Jazz
  • Indie Music
  • Junior Seminar: Musicology in Action
  • Music and Gender
  • Music and Media
  • Music and Sports
  • Music of the 1960s
  • Music Videos: From MTV to YouTube
  • Rock Music
  • Music, Space and Place
  • Popular Music Studies
Research Interests

Theo Cateforis’s research is in the areas of popular music, American music, and film music, with a specific focus on the history of rock music. He has published and presented widely on various rock genres and movements, such as new wave, post-punk, math rock, and riot grrrl. He has also explored issues of youth and gender in teen movies and emerging adulthood in recent indie rock music. His most current research is on 1990s’ alternative rock.


e: The Pre-Punk History of a ‘90s Rock Genre” In Media Narratives in Popular Music, eds. Chris Anderton and Martin James, 109-124. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022.

“The World of Wes Anderson and Mark Mothersbaugh: Between Childhood and Adulthood in The Royal Tenenbaums.” In Transmedia Directors: Artistry, Industry and New Audiovisual Aesthetics, eds. Carol Vernallis, Lisa Perrott and Holly Rogers, 35-49. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.

“Time to Pretend: The Emerging Adulthood of Indie Rock.” Popular Music & Society 43, no. 5 (2020): 481-500.

“Total Trash: Analysis and Post-Punk Music.” Journal of Popular Music Studiesv30, no. 4 (2018): 95-112.

“Between Artifice and Authenticity: Music and Media in Wag the Dog.” In The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media, eds. Carol Vernallis, John Richardson, Amy Herzog, 369-378. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

A&S Experts Share Their Halloween Favorites

(Oct. 29, 2023)

Professors from the Department of Art and Music Histories discuss the haunting works of art they enjoy on October 31.

2023 Humanities Center Faculty Fellows Focus on Critical Societal Concerns

(Feb. 13, 2023)

Projects examine race and language, the genealogy of slavery, women’s marital rights in Arab nations and the impact of 1990s alternative rock.

Five Questions for Theo Cateforis

(April 5, 2019)

The author of 'The Rock History Reader' may have the coolest job on campus

Rock Biographers Anthony DeCurtis, David Yaffe Headline Syracuse Symposium Feb. 19

(Feb. 11, 2019)

Bestselling authors discuss books on Lou Reed '64, Joni Mitchell and rock journalism, in general

The Business of the Backbeat

(Feb. 19, 2015)

Drummer Jason Sutter illuminates Syracuse students on the business of rock 'n' roll

Honors and Awards

Syracuse University

  • Writing Across the Curriculum, Faculty Fellowship ($3000) 2019-20
  • Humanities Center Grant ($2750) to support Syracuse Symposium “Stories” Event, 2019
  • Humanities Center Grant ($1500) to support Syracuse Symposium “Networks” Event, 2016
  • Mellon Humanities Corridor Grant ($12,500), Mobilizing Music: Gender and Performativity (co-organizer with Amanda Eubanks Winkler), Syracuse University mini-seminars 2013-14
  • College of Arts & Sciences, Ray Smith Symposium award ($10,000), Mellon Humanities Corridor Grant ($5000), and Syracuse Symposium funds ($2000) to support Music of Conflict and Reconciliation (co-organizer with Carol Babiracki, Amanda Eubanks Winkler and Stephen Meyer), Ray Smith Symposium Syracuse University, 2010-11
  • College of Arts & Sciences, Publication subvention for Are We Not New Wave? Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s, 2010
  • Mellon Humanities Corridor Grant and Syracuse Symposium ($15,000) Forum on Music and Sound in Film (co-organizer with Stephen Meyer), Syracuse University, 2009
  • Meredith Professors Teaching Recognition Award, 2008
  • College of Arts & Sciences, Publication subvention for The Rock History Reader, 2006