Sarah Weiss

Humanities (Music)

Associate Professor
Rector, Saga College

Contact No.: +65 6601 3499

View Curriculum Vitae

Professor Sarah Weiss holds a BA with honours in Music History and Theory from the University of Rochester and Eastman School of Music and MA and PhD degrees in Music (with Distinction) from New York University, winning the Dean’s Dissertation Award in 1998. An active scholar of Southeast Asian performance and culture, Professor Weiss has taught world music theories, music research methodologies, gender theory, ethnography, hybridity and postcolonial studies, world music surveys, and Javanese gamelan performance in the Departments of Music at the University of Sydney, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Harvard University, and Yale. She is delighted to continue her teaching and research activities here at Yale-NUS College.

In her role as the inaugural Rector of Saga College, Professor Weiss strives to encourage and develop a sense of community and college identity among the students, faculty and staff who live, study, and work in Saga Residential College.

Professor Weiss is also an active musician. She regularly performs with Gamelan Singa Nglaras housed in the National University of Singapore’s Southeast Asian Studies Department and has started a faculty a cappella group called The Lecture Notes.

Professor Weiss addresses issues of postcoloniality, hybridity, gender, world religions, southeast asian performance, and aesthetics in her writing and teaching. Professor Weiss’s book, Listening to an Earlier Java: Aesthetics, Gender, and the Music of Wayang in Central Java was published in 2006 by KITLV Press in Leiden, Netherlands. Based on fieldwork over several years in Central Java, this book explores the impact of postcolonial intellectual ideas and gender philosophies on the reception and development of Javanese traditional wayang performance in the twentieth century. Professor Weiss is currently finishing her second book entitled Ritual Soundings: Weddings, Women Performers, and World Religions. In this work, she adopts a meta-ethnographic approach to examine women’s use of performance in extraordinary, religiously sanctioned contexts to voice their opinions, effect change, and assert control over their own destinies while simultaneously localising the practice of world religions. Weiss’s comparative approach reveals similarities in women’s practices that suggest world religions may share more than is commonly acknowledged.

Some of Professor Weiss’s teaching springs from her keen research interest in the interpretation of cultural encounter through the discourse of hybridity theories. She has examined the international presentation of Sulawesi’s epic in I La Galigo by Robert Wilson and Rahayu Supanggah (2008) and Bali’s Sanggar Çudamani’s Odalan Bali (2013) as well as the role of listener expectation on the reception of world musics. Other areas of research include projects on Indonesian novelist Armijn Pane and the uses of kroncong in Indonesian nationalist discourse and the interdependent development of Singaporean identity and cultural performance over the course of the twentieth century.

This is a selection of Professor Weiss’s peer-reviewed articles. See her CV for a more extensive list of publications and professional activities.

(in press)             “Last time, in the Kampong, Chinese Wayang, Malay Bangsawan and Kroncong, all in one place:” Nostalgia, Memory, and History in Discourse on Singapore Performance. Out of Bounds, edited by Ingrid Monson and Richard Wolf. Harvard University Press. (in press).

(in press)             Transcending Boundaries: Javanese Wayang Kulit Without the Shadows. Resounding Transcendence: Transition in Music, Ritual, and Religion, edited by Philip Bohlman and Jeffers Englhardt. Oxford University Press. (in press).

2014                        Listening to the World But Hearing Ourselves: Hybridity and Perceptions of Authenticity in World Music. Ethnomusicology 58/3: 506-25.

2013                        Perspectives on Balinese Authenticities: Sanggar Çudamani’s Odalan Bali. Performing Arts in Postmodern Bali – Changing Interpretations, Founding Traditions, edited by Kendra Stepputat. Graz Studies in Ethnomusicology. Institute of Ethnomusicology, University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria, 279-308.

2013                        (with Tony Day) Performance in Southeast Asian History. Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian History. London: Routledge, 300-309.

2008                        Gender and Gender Redux: Rethinking Binaries and the Aesthetics of Old-Style Javanese Wayang. Woman & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 12: 22-39.

2008                        Permeable Boundaries: Hybridity, Music, and the Reception of Robert Wilson’s I La Galigo. Ethnomusicology 52/2: 203-238.



(in progress)     Ritual Soundings: Weddings, Women Performers, and World Religions.

2006                        Listening to an Earlier Java: Aesthetics, Gender and the Music of Wayang in Central Java. Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde monograph series, vol. 237. Leiden: KITLV Press (CD-ROM included)


Literature and Humanities II
Permeable Boundaries: Music and Cultural Encounter
Introduction to the Arts: Urban Sounds, Urban Spaces
Performing Gender