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Benjamin Ratliff

Visiting Assistant Professor
(212) 992-3738
1 Wash Pl, Room 717

Office Hours
Thursday (12-3 by appt)
Friday (9:30-10:30 by appt)

B.A., Classics, Columbia College, 1990

Ben Ratliff has written about pop, jazz, traditional and experimental music for publications including Granta, Slate, Artforum, Wire, Rolling Stone, the Guardian, and The New York Times, where he worked as a music critic for twenty years. His subjects are popular music, listening, journalism, creative nonfiction, and the practice and history of cultural criticism. He has taught criticism and nonfiction writing at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and the Columbia University School of the Arts. He is the author of four books: Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016); The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (St. Martin's/Griffin, 2009); Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (Picador, 2007, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in Criticism); and Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings (Times Books, 2002). Ratliff garnered a 2018 Grammy nomination for Best Album Notes for his essay “The 1960 Time Sessions” for the Sonny Clark Trio.  

Teaching and Research Interests

cultural criticism, popular music, traditional music, experimental music, jazz, listening, journalism, creative nonfiction  

Recent News


Ben Ratliff garnered a 2019 Grammy Nomination as an album notes writer for Sonny Clark Trio, “The 1960 Time Sessions”. The 2019 Grammy Awards will be held February 10, 2019.


Ratliff’s book Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in a Time of Musical Plenty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016) was reviewed in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The New Republic.


Ratliff delivered the 2017 Una’s Lecture at University of California, Berkeley. A revised version of the lecture—“Mere Virtuosity: Variations on a Slippery Idea”—was published as an essay in the Spring 2018 issue of Virginia Quarterly Review.

Benjamin Ratliff