Sarah Weiss

Humanities (Music)

Associate Professor
Rector, Saga College

Contact No.: +65 6601 3499

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Associate 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, Assoc Prof 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, Assoc Prof 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.

Assoc Prof 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.

Assoc Prof Weiss addresses issues of postcoloniality, hybridity, gender, world religions, southeast asian performance, and aesthetics in her writing and teaching. Assoc Prof 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. Assoc Prof Weiss is publishing a new book entitled, Ritual Soundings: Weddings, Women Performers, and World Religions (University of Illinois Press, anticipated date: 2018). 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. Assoc Prof Weiss’s comparative approach reveals similarities in women’s practices that suggest world religions may share more than is commonly acknowledged.

Some of Assoc Prof 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 an on-going fieldwork project examining interdependent development of Singaporean identity and cultural performance over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

(in press) Ritual Soundings: Women Performers and World Religions. University of
Illinois Press. (Awarded a subvention grant from the Lloyd Hibberd Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.)

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)

Peer-Reviewed Articles
2018 “Last time, in the Kampong, Chinese Wayang, Malay Bangsawan and Kroncong, all in one place:” Nostalgia, Memory, and History in Discourse on Singaporean Performance. Out of Bounds: Ethnography, History, Music, edited by Ingrid Monson, Carol J. Oja and Richard K. Wolf. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

2017 Rangda and the Goddess Durga in Bali. Journal of Fieldwork in Religion 12/1: 50-77.

2016 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, 43-63.

2015 Écouter le monde mais n’entendre que soi: Hybridité et perceptions de l’authenticité dans les musiques du monde. Translated into French by Dario Rudy. Volume!: French Journal of Popular Music Studies 10/1.
(This is a differently peer-reviewed piece related to the 2014 Ethnomusicology article listed below.)

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.

Literature and Humanities II
Permeable Boundaries: Music and Cultural Encounter
Introduction to the Arts: Urban Sounds, Urban Spaces
Sounding Royal: Power and Performance in Southeast Asian Courts
Performing Gender: Gendering Performance
Introduction to the World’s Musics